The weak economy and high fuel prices have driven the cost of living up enormously in recent months, and the cost of groceries leads the list of things that have skyrocketed in price as a result. Since we all have to eat, it’s imperative that we learn how to shop wisely and stretch every dollar that we have to spend on food items. Here are ten tips that can help:
Take a pre-shopping trip inventory of the food items that you already have on hand. Is there something simple that you can pick up to turn an item that you already have in your pantry or freezer into a delicious meal just by spending a few extra cents? A good example is buying a can of tuna to add to a box of macaroni and cheese to make “tuna mac”.
2. The list is set in stone
Make a list of the grocery items that you really need, then stick to it once you get into the store. Adhering to a good shopping list will help you avoid picking up every item that catches your eye as you’re pushing your cart through the aisles. Impulse shopping is one of the biggest budget busters there is. Avoid it at all costs!
3. Hungry shopping = expensive shopping
Don’t go shopping for groceries when you’re hungry. Hunger pains make everything on the shelves look so tempting! Always try to do your grocery shopping right after you have finished enjoying a meal.
4. Size matters
Use a small shopping cart if the store has different sizes available. Even better, if you just need a few small items choose a hand basket instead. Having just enough room to hold only the items you came for will help curb the urge to grab “extras”.
5. Shop alone
If possible, always do your grocery shopping without the kids tagging along. Children are notorious for wanting this and begging for that, and it can be quite difficult to say no with other shoppers looking on. Shop alone and save a bundle!
6. Shop with a purpose
Don’t meander through every aisle in the store. If a particular aisle doesn’t contain at least one item on your list, skip it and move on to the next one. And once you get into the next aisle, don’t dilly dally around! Grab the item(s) you’re looking for, then head straight to the next aisle.
7. Buy generic
Consider choosing store brands instead of their name-brand counterparts. Store brands are often as much as 50% cheaper, yet taste just as good and contain just as many essential nutrients.
Collect and use coupons whenever possible, especially on double or triple coupon days. The judicious use of coupons will sometimes allow you to buy name brands for less than you would pay for the equivalent store brand. A small zip-up notebook makes a wonderful coupon organizer and holder. One caveat about using coupons: Don’t buy an item simply because you have a coupon for it. If it isn’t on your list and you would never buy it without a coupon, save that money and spend it on something that IS on your list!
9. Loyalty cards
If the store offers a customer loyalty discount card, fill out an application and get one. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how much you can save by purchasing as many weekly “card specials” as possible (make sure they are on your list though!).
10. No wandering eyes
When you’re done shopping make a bee-line for the nearest checkout register in order to avoid those always tempting impulse purchases. And once you’re in line, develop tunnel vision and avoid looking at all the magazines, candy and other “extras” that are placed there specifically to entice you into padding your grocery bill.
Conclusion: Yes, it’s true that we all have to eat. But it’s also true that we don’t have to spend a small fortune every time we go to the grocery store. Just a little planning (and a lot of self-discipline) will help you return home from your shopping trip without emptying your bank account!