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7 tips for foodshopping in Israel

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

Think you can’t save money while food shopping?  Think again.  This a list of tricks that marketing people use and how you can beat them at their own game.

#1 – If it’s at eye level, it’s more expensive.  Try comparing items on the lower shelves in order to save some money (by the way, the most expensive candies and cereals for kids are on the kids’ eye level).  The cheapest items though are usually placed above eye level (most inconvenient to get to.)  The main thing is to compare all of the prices and not take what they stick in your face.

#2 – Supermarkets make more money when you buy in bulk.  Why is this?  After all, don’t you save money by spending less?  Not really.  Buying in bulk causes you to waste a lot more food.  By waste I mean either the food goes bad or you overeat.  When I have more cereal in the house, I snack on it.  So I use more and buy more.

When buying in bulk ask yourself the following three questions:  #1 – if I buy it, will some of it go to waste?  #2 – if I buy it, will some of it go to waste (considering my overeating as waste)?  #3 – Do I have the proper room to keep this in storage?

If you can answer these three questions correctly,  then you can buy it.  Otherwise, buy the lesser amount and pay more per item – you’ll be paying less overall.

#3 – Supermarkets in Israel will mess you over because they think you’re too lazy to do anything about it.  Supermarkets often times will not give you the sale prices or else purposely mislabel sale items because they know you won’t go back and do anything about it.  Don’t be embarrassed though – stop the line and demand the price advertised.  If they refuse then don’t buy the item.  If they rang it up, then tell them to take it off.  But under no circumstances should you pay more for the item than you thought you should have when you looked at the item.  Go back another time for the item if necessary, but do not throw out your hard earned money on their dishonesty.

#4 – Don’t be fooled by an item with no price.  If I see an item with no price, I take it for a price check.  If the price check is too long, then I take the alternative I would buy along with it to the cashier.  When I pay, I ask the cashier to ring up both of them and then tell him to remove the more expensive one.

#5 – The most dishonest price you can see is a price for a half-kilo.  This is a little trick Israeli fruit vendors pull in order to get you to buy overpriced fruit.  Turn all prices into one unit (price per kilo) and then decide.

#6 – Buy cheap ingredients and make some of your food.  Tomato sauce is expensive, but tomato paste is dirt cheap.  Just add water and some oregano.  Chummus can be made with some chic peas, tehina and a hand blender for half the price.  Olive spread can be made for half the price – just buy olives, add oil and use a hand blender.  Cream cheese can be made by mixing 3 yogurts, 2 sour creams and some salt (let it dry on a cloth for a day or so).  All of these items add up and you can save on average ₪ 50 a week doing this.

#7 – Only buy price-controlled items at the makolet.  The price of cheap bread is mandated by the government.  The price for Ein Gedi water is always ₪ 12.  These items can therefore be bought at the makolet.  Just about everything else is incredibly overpriced.

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