Grocery Shopping Strategies

Do you often go to the grocery store with good intentions that involve staying within a budget and getting only healthy food item? Do you tell yourself you will stick to your diet this time and not grab any junk food? Do you then walk out of the store with things that just “sounded good” or “were a good price” that you didn’t plan to purchase and ended up going over budget? If this sounds even a little like you then let’s work on your grocery shopping strategy. My tips will help you stick to a budget and choose healthier options when shopping.

1. Don’t go hungry

When you go shopping hungry you are much more likely to purchase things you normally wouldn’t. Make sure you just ate or that you at least don’t have a rumbling tummy before you head out the door.

2. Check the Sales Ahead of Time

Grocery stores send their sales ads in the mail. Look at the produce page, usually what’s on sale is what’s in season which means it will taste the best along with being cheapest. Follow my blog to make sure you get notified every time I update my grocery store savings page which shows you how to combine sales with coupons to save a ton and sometimes even get free food.

3. Make a List … and Stick to It

Once you check out the sales, write down what you plan to purchase, bring the list with you, and only buy what you wrote down. If you’re shopping for food to make a dish with a recipe, take the recipe with you so you know you’re getting everything you need in 1 trip and won’t have to go back for forgotten items. Also note what you already have at home so you aren’t buying unnecessary items

4. Avoid Aisles When You Can

Ever notice when you go shopping that the produce, deli, seafood, and meat are all along the perimeter of the store while the more processed foods are in the middle aisles? Try to keep your shopping list consisting of mainly perimeter foods for increased nutrition with less preservatives, sodium, and trans fat. This will also keep your cost down by preventing you from buying convenience foods that often are more expensive than making the item from scratch. Examples are frozen dinners, instant oatmeal packets, and instant rice. Of course there are always exceptions where aisle foods may be cheaper.

5. Buy Produce that’s in Season

Many grocery stores will tell you what’s in season with a sticker, add, or sign. If they don’t, you can usually figure it out because it also happens to be on sale. Produce that is in season costs less since there’s more of it and it tastes better too since it’s so fresh. When buying your produce, try to get all the colors of the rainbow. For salad greens, the darker the more nutritious.

6. Canned and Frozen Produce Can Be a Good Choice

Sometimes frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are cheaper options. These items are picked at when they are ripe instead of before they are ripe like fresh produce which then ripens in transit. Frozen and canned items can retain more nutrients than some fresh produce which may sit out for days until it arrives to the grocery store.

7. Look at Unit Pricing

If you are shopping in the aisles and you aren’t brand loyal, see if your store has unit pricing on the price tag. This breaks it down to per unit or per ounce pricing so that you can compare prices of different brands and sizes to see what is cheapest per unit.

8. Buy in Bulk

If you have freezer and shelf space in your kitchen, purchase items in bulk. Getting larger portions of meat and freezing it until you are ready to use it can save you money. Buying non-perishable items on sale that are buy one get one free is another way to stock up on the savings.  Keep in mind that if it is something that will spoil before you use it all, such as olive oil or nuts, you may want to buy the smaller package.

9. Skip Name Brands

It’s often cheaper to purchase the store brand instead of the name brand. More often than not, you can’t tell the difference in taste between the two and it will save you money.

References:

  • Morris, George. (2014, June 19). “How to make healthier groceries.” Retrieved from http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/features/9384599-171/how-to-make-healthier-groceries
  • Mussatto, Cheryl. (2014, June 30). “Eat Well to Be Well: Making cents at the supermarket.” Retrieved from http://www.osagecountyonline.com/archives/10536
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