In a previous post, I talked about the benefits to learning how to cook. If you are interested in learning how to cook, then you are going to need to know how to grocery shop. You might be thinking that grocery shopping is rather easy to do. The actual task of grocery shopping is easy, but I am going to show you how to grocery shop and make it worth your money.
Make a List
Before you head out to do your grocery shopping, it is imperative that you make a list. Making a list ensures that you save money. You save money by not buying something you already have but forgot you had and you don’t impulse buy. You will see that frozen pizza and think you need that. After looking over your list, you will see that it isn’t on your list and therefore you don’t buy it.
Of course, for this to work you actually have to stick to your list. I can’t help you with that, you just need to have some will power.
If you don’t get weekly sales ads from local grocery stores in your mail, don’t worry. You can view them online or as you walk into the store. For me, I get them in the mail, so I spend 15 minutes looking through them to see what is on sale. I then base my meals for the week on those sale items.
I like to cook lunches and dinners for myself on Sundays for the week. Doing so frees up a lot of time during the week as I only have to reheat the meals.
If a week goes by when I don’t get the ads in the mail, I will usually just visit the store that I know has the lowest prices (for the most part) and look at their ad when I walk in the door. All stores have the current ad just inside or outside the front door. A quick look through that allows me to finalize my meal planning for the week. (In these cases, I come up with a few meal options and go with whichever meal ingredients are on sale that week.)
Once I browse through the ads, I look for some coupons. Again, I get these in the mail, but there are many apps for your Smartphone that have coupons as well. You simply download the app and scroll through coupons. Many times, you don’t even need to print the coupon out, you just send a picture of your receipt to the app and they will deposit your money into your PayPal account.
Look Up and Down
When you go grocery shopping, be sure to look up and down in the aisles. The food that is at eye level is there because the producer paid premium money to get that shelf space. Store brand products are usually on the bottom and up top are other brand’s products. By looking up and down, you will find comparable products for much less money.
Many times, I have found the store brand product to be cheaper than the name brand product that is on sale. Before you knock the store brand product, try it out. I have found only a very few store brand products to not be good. Most times, I can’t even tell the difference.
Learning how to grocery shop is essential if you want to save the most amount of money on your groceries. I have only touched on a few ideas that I use regularly. On average, I save myself close to 20% each shopping trip or close to $20 per week. The work required to do so doesn’t take me more than 15 minutes per week.
If you want to really get serious, there are extreme couponing shows and sites that will teach you how to save crazy amounts of money on each shopping trip. Personally, the effort isn’t worth the rewards. I am happy with my 20% savings for 15 minutes of work.
Readers, what tips do you have for those just starting out grocery shopping?
The “look up and down” tip is great! I think that’s so funny that companies will pay a premium for a certain spot on the shelf – but hey, let ’em keep doing it since we’ve figure out the trick to avoiding paying more for their products.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry has always been a favorite tip of mine. It makes it so much easier to stick to a list!
I do plenty of shopping and home cooking but I still need to get better at meal planning. Right now it’s more ad hoc and I don’t take advantage of multiple meals I could make with on sale ingredients. Of course, part of that is because I’m in a CSA currently and receiving an unknown amount of veggies every week.
I always make it a point to check what I still have at home then make a list of what I need. Having a list gives me a clearer direction of what I need when I go grocery shopping, it also helps save me unnecessary trip to the grocery to buy things we forgot to get.
I don’t keep track of how much we save exactly, but we’ve been doing well on our $200/month grocery budget for a long time now.
Keeping a list and sticking to it is important. Always compare and read labels, you will learn more and save more! And yes, do not shop with an empty stomach!
I’ve always heard to also make sure you don’t shop on an empty stomach. You’ll end up buying more stuff that you don’t really need if you are hungry.
Grocery shopping is one of my biggest weekly expenses, I really wish I could get into couponing and being much more savvy about the grocery store. I just go, get what I need at minimum and leave.
Make sure you actually compare costs using the Per Unit price. My wife is horrible at this! She thinks she is getting a deal when another brand could have given her more for her dollar. Sometimes, you’ll find that certain brands are already cheaper (per unit) than others on sale!