You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Grocery buying tips from a savings pro

Centerville’s Cindy Ewing runs a helpful website.Costs are rising this year, so here’s timely advice.

The Food Institute has determined the budget for groceries for a family of four will increase about $4 a week in 2013. In order to offset raised prices at the grocery store, shoppers need to pay attention to sales, utilize coupons and shop around to get the best deal.

But just because something is on sale or you have a coupon, doesn’t mean you should buy it.

Cindy Ewing of Centerville, a savings expert who speaks and teaches about the topic, has advice you can use to help manage grocery costs. Ewing runs the website at

Ewing says it is not about how much you save, but how little you spend to get what your family needs.

And knowing your budget is the first step to getting what you need for the least amount of money possible.

“Budgets are a huge thing. Do you know how much you are spending? Because if you don’t, we won’t know how much we’re cutting off your grocery bill,” Ewing said.

“Sales come back over and over again. People think that something will never be on sale again, but it will. It’s an 8-12 week rotation-sale cycle, and if you’re not loyal to a grocery store, you can find what you need,” Ewing said.

For six years, Ewing has been stretching her grocery dollars by sticking to some rules.

“Buy before you need it, while it’s on sale, match it with coupons, without hoarding and bringing a lot of stuff into your home,” Ewing said.

Ewing advises using cash for buying groceries because cash makes you more accountable for your purchases.

“Make sure you’re using the food you buy and not throwing it away,” Ewing said.

Plan meals to save at the grocery and to eliminate the question of what’s for dinner. On her site, Ewing shares her plans for meals that are kid-friendly, easy, cheap and healthy.

“Most people have the same 10 meals. I already know what my family will eat,” Ewing said.

Ewing uses the weekly specials on meat for her families’ dinners.

“For example, if Tyson chicken is on sale, I buy enough for a month. If pork loin is on sale next week, I buy enough for a month. I buy our favorite meats on rotation and within a month, you’ll have all the things everyone in the family needs,” Ewing said.

Cooking, dividing up and freezing right away ensure that the meat she buys and the money she spends will not go to waste.

“I am a bulk cooker. I will brown the taco meat or cook up the chicken, separate it into containers and freeze them and then write taco meat on the container,” Ewing said noting that the meat will fulfill a variety of dishes.

Ewing applies the same rules to fresh fruits and vegetables.

“If you wash and chop up produce right away, your family is more apt to eat it, as opposed to leaving a cantaloupe on the counter for a week, and then it goes bad,” Ewing said.

If she overbuys on produce and it turns mushy, Ewing throws it in a smoothie or freezes it for a future smoothie.

“Take yogurt — if it’s on sale, and you buy too much, freeze it like Gogurts,” Ewing said. “I put yogurt in ice cube trays, freeze, and then put two-three sections in a bag, one cup of frozen fruit, and just make my own smoothie kit.”

Ewing budgets a $1-1.50/pound for fresh produce, double that amount for organic.

Control portions to stay within a budget.

Ewing advises knowing how much you need and how much you will eat before you buy; perhaps fresh is the best option, but if you don’t need a large amount, check out the salad bar, and if you do need a large amount, don’t forget to head to the frozen section.

“Take advantage of frozen, but avoid sauce-laden veggies and fruits,” Ewing said. “Sometimes the bigger bag (frozen) is not always the best deal. Sometimes it’s better to buy several smaller bags.”

Even when it comes to treats, Ewing calculates the cost before making a purchase.

“I look at the ready-made cookie dough, because sometimes it ends up being cheaper than the ingredients I need to make it from scratch,” Ewing said.

Shop all brands to stretch your dollars.

“I’m not brand loyal. If you like a product brand, then you have to stock up on that item. Decide how many of the item you want.” Ewing said. “For toiletries, I look for the best deal, because I don’t have any skin allergies, but not everyone can do that.”

Be aware of sales traps.

“10 for 10 sales — people think you have to buy all 10 to get it for a dollar, but you don’t, you can buy just one. Meijer does the buy 10 and get the 11th free, so in that case you would have to buy 10,” Ewing said.

“Start with small steps with small changes and work your way up. If you try to change it all at once, you’ll get overwhelmed,” Ewing said. “Stick to a budget.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

When sending flowers just won’t do

Flowers. Don’t send them. My former colleague, Tim, lost his beloved Uncle Bill this week. People sent flowers. That’s what they do at times like these. Tim says don’t do it. Not because he didn’t adore his uncle. Oh, how he adored him. Still does. “He’s the man who influenced me to become a journalist,” he...
WASSO Kitchens Tour is Saturday
WASSO Kitchens Tour is Saturday

Some of Springfield’s hottest kitchens will welcome fans in this weekend. The 11th annual Women’s Association of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (WASSO) Kitchens Tour will highlight five different spaces, 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 29. The tour is a fundraiser with proceeds benefitting the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. “We&rsquo...
Katharine the great white shark lurking in waters off central Florida coast
Katharine the great white shark lurking in waters off central Florida coast

  Katharine, the great white shark, has surfaced again in Florida waters, this time pinging off the coast just north of Port St. Lucie. Katharine, who has been swimming up the east coast of Florida since January, started her northward trek parallel to Lake Worth on January 13. In the months that have followed, she has moved up the coast as far...
Woman claims Fitbit burned her arm after it ‘exploded’
Woman claims Fitbit burned her arm after it ‘exploded’

A Wisconsin woman said she suffered second-degree burns on her arm after her Fitbit tracker “exploded” while she read a book, ABC News reported. >> Read more trending news  Dina Mitchell said she had owned her Fitbit Flex 2 for about two weeks when the fitness tracking device allegedly caught fire on her arm Tuesday night...
What’s under your feet at the playground?
What’s under your feet at the playground?

The playground: a universal source of fun for children. It’s also a place to burn calories, make new friends and develop skills like how to judge risks and make decisions. A good playground challenges and engages children but is also designed to keep them safe. One of the best ways to lower the chances of serious injuries is to make sure there...
More Stories