Grocery shopping is a routine many have come to despise or fear due to the overwhelming number of options available in stores these days. With an average of 50,000 products for a supermarket, there is no wonder why people feel this way and walk away perplexed by the high number on their final receipt. However, with some basic guidelines, you can become a savvy shopper that brings home wholesome, nutritious foods. The next 5 tips (plus a personal bonus tip) will provide some advice to keep in mind for your next trip to the store.
1. Create a Budget
Preparing a budget on a monthly and/or weekly basis is a crucial first step in ensuring you are spending an appropriate amount on your grocery shopping. Although this falls more under financial advice, it plays as key role in how you shop at the store. Knowing your budget or budget range will be the foundation for how you structure your shopping. With a set range in mind you would be able to better organize your list ahead of time as you have a general idea of the prices of each item, especially if these are repeat items. Reducing the rushed feeling of going through the supermarket has a significant impact on your overall spending. It is suggested that grocery stores intentionally play slower music to influence shoppers to move at a slower pace and spend more time in the store. This results in higher sales as those individuals are exposed to more products. Thus, take the time to create a budget for your shopping expenses and stick to it. As you get to know your routine better, you can adjust accordingly to perfect the budget and get the most bang for your buck!
2. Have a List Prepared
This may seem like an obvious step but you would be surprised at how few people go to the store prepared and/or stick to their list. Once you have a budget set in place, you can begin to go through all the items you plan on purchasing and add up the prices ahead of time. Even if these are rough estimates, the extra five to ten minutes spent doing this math will save you in the long run. Not only will you be prepared to get through the store more quickly and avoid the trap of buying more, but you will be keener on saving money with a maximum number always in mind. Additionally, some prices may stand out as much higher than others and encourage you to avoid buying those expensive, impulse products.
3. Avoid the Coupon and Sale Trap
Coupons are a great way to save some additional cash and require little upfront effort. However, many fall into the habit of buying items just because of a coupon or shiny sale sign. We all want to feel the accomplishment of getting a good deal and beating the system. It is such a commonality that there are now shows that highlight people’s ability to use coupons to save hundreds. This is not the reality of the situation for a majority of the population. If it were, supermarkets wouldn’t use them. The trap is that many people buy items that they typically would not have because of the coupon. The trick is to keep it simple and only use coupons that are for an item on your list. This way you don’t buy unnecessary items and will become more accustomed to sticking to the list.
4. Do Simple Math and Be Cautious when Buying in Bulk
For more on the sales and not just coupons, it is important to start doing simple math. We are all lured in by those brightly colored, in your face sale signs and stickers. They catch our attention immediately and prey on our desire to beat the system and save money. Many times sales are the best way to save and stay below budget but take the extra seconds to do the math. Certain brands or products will be put on sale to move inventory and may be costing you. However, the truth is in plain sight in front of you on the sales tags, which becomes especially important when buying in bulk. Took a closer look at the price per pound or ounce to understand which product gives the best deals. If the sale offers savings on buying multiple options, it is common that you still receive the deal when buying just one of that item (ex: “Buy 2 at $5” can yield 1 at $2.50). Keep in mind that you should be sticking to your list and only buy items if the sale is good enough to keep you within your budget.
5. Buy Generic When Possible
When it comes to all the different options at our disposal, even though it might be overwhelming, this competition actually drives down prices for the consumer. With multiple options, many popular brands have generic versions of their product made. These store branded products are often produced with the same exact ingredient list and sometimes by the original manufacturer, as well. Although you may feel loyal to certain brands, begin trying the store brand instead to taste the difference for yourself and begin accumulating significant savings.
6. Don’t go to the Store Hungry*
Finally, my personal tip is to always eat before you go shopping! When you are hungry you are much more likely to give into impulses and buy items that are not on your list, buy extra, and buy less nutritious items. Therefore, always try to have at least a snack before you shop and if you simply don’t have the time, grab a snack pack of carrots in the produce aisle to nibble on while you shop.
Try It Out!
Overall, the key to saving money while food shopping is to be prepared. Establishing a budget and a list of your items will serve as the foundation for avoiding being lured into spending more than you need. Then once at the store, ensure that you take the time to compare prices, especially for generic brands vs. name brands. Look particularly close at the price per pound to get the most bang for your buck and don’t buy more than you need unless the budget allows. Good luck!