We’re all pressured for time and (especially!) money these days, so here are some easy ways to save both when you do your grocery shopping.
Make a List
Know what you’re shopping for before you leave the house, and you’ll save time wandering the aisles at the supermarket. By focusing on things you need, you’ll be less tempted to make impulse purchases while grocery shopping. Make a list of food and other items you need at home – and unless it’s on sale, don’t buy anything that’s not on the list.
Eat Before You Shop
It may sound silly, but it’s true: if you show up at the grocery store hungry, you’re likely to buy more. That’s why many stores have their fresh-baked goods near the entrance, so you’ll smell them as soon as you walk in the door and give in to temptation. Spend your time eating at home before you head out, and you’ll save your money while grocery shopping!
Do Your Homework
Check out flyers that come in the mail, newspaper ads and pullouts for weekly grocery shopping specials, making note of savings opportunities on your list. If your local store has an online mailing list, sign up and watch for email sales notices. Also look for paperless coupon offers online.
Sign up for Savings
In addition to coupons and advertised sales, many supermarkets have frequent shopping programs, offering members additional savings on selected products. This is a good way to save money on some items, but make sure you’re not paying higher prices on products you use regularly by limiting yourself to one particular store.
Shop By the Book
Track your grocery shopping costs by creating a grocery price book – an ongoing list of products you purchase often (food, cosmetic and health care items) and what you pay for them at which store. The time you spend setting it up – use a small ring binder or steno pad or even your cell phone note-taking system – will quickly pay dividends when you follow price cycles and seasonal discounts.
Stock up on Savings
If there’s something you use all the time – staples like paper goods, soap, etc. – don’t wait to buy more until you need it, since you’ll probably pay more than if you stock up on an item when it’s on sale. Keep as much as you can on hand at home. And remember that stores rotate what goes on sale, so try to stockpile enough until the next sale cycle.
Read the Labels
Learn the difference between “unit price” and “package price” – the package price is the cost for the entire item, while the unit price (usually printed on a label or sticker on the grocery store shelf) shows the price per ounce/pound/etc. A larger-sized package doesn’t necessarily indicate a lower unit price – paying attention while walking the grocery aisles can yield big savings at checkout.
Phone a Friend
Got a friend who’s a member of a discount warehouse store? Ask her to pick up bulk dry goods that you can easily store. Or maybe the two of you want to share a deluxe-sized box of bargain fresh fruit. Return the favor and keep an eye out for when her favorite brand is on sale at your local grocery chain.
Generic and store brands save you money when you’re grocery shopping, and you won’t be scrimping on quality. A sizable percentage of the price of brand-name products goes towards packaging and marketing, so experiment with other, less-expensive brands, and you might be pleasantly surprised – by both the taste and your lower grocery bill!