We all gotta eat, so that means we must shop for groceries. Unless, of course, you've been fortunate enough to acquire the means to hire a personal chef or all your meals consist of take-out Chinese, pre-packaged convenience store "food," and trips through the local fast food drive-thru.
While some people love the process of strolling the aisles, gathering up the weeks' edibles, others dread the trip and wish the food would magically appear in their pantries and fridge. Perhaps it's the crowds of shoppers fighting for that last ripe avocado, the bright lights and slippery floors, or maybe it's the amount of dough they're spending on their dough (and other stuff) each time they hit up the local grocer.
Of the gripes one may have, the one they can control is how much money is spent each time it's time to go grocery shopping. Here are 5 money-saving tips anyone can use and still come home with bags full of fresh (or packaged) foods and beverages. Is your mouth watering yet?
Stick to Your List
Before heading out to the market, take inventory of what you're out of and what you plan to cook or eat during the week. After you've perused and planned, write out a simple list, organized by category (dairy, snacks, produce, etc.) or placement in the grocery store. This is your list and that's that. If you see something tempting at the store, if it's not on your list, you're not buying it. Simple as that. Allow your self-control to hold more weight than a seasonal display of pumpkin spice truffles.
As per PopSugar, "If you follow the list, you won't be buying more than you need or buying unnecessary items. There are even free printable grocery lists online that let you check off which groceries you need. A good one to check out is the very detailed Ultimatest grocery list."
Shop Mid-Week (and preferably, just once a week)
Annette Economides, the co-author of Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family tells Time Money, "The less you shop, the more you save." Sounds obvious, but when each trip is a new experience, it may not register how much you're spending overall for the week when it's spaced out. A $20 trip to the market may seem reasonable, but times that by 3 or 4 and the spend adds up quickly.
Additionally, certain days of the week may yield more savings. Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert tells Bankrate, "Wednesdays are a great time to get your hands on those manager markdowns. Food that is nearing its 'sell by' date is typically reduced midweek. Grocery stores also release new circulars on Wednesdays, so you get a double bonus since stores usually honor last week's deals, too." Looks like "hump day" is the best day to fill up your "paper or plastic!"
Clipping coupons and perusing weekly circulars won't take long but the money you save will go a long way. Compare and contrast brands and see if your favorite brand is really worth the money.
Store specials pop up every week and they are worth considering. If you normally buy a name brand pasta but the store brand is half-off, your family will never know the difference when they are asking for seconds of your famous penne primavera.
And couponing isn't what it used to be. Like nearly everything else, you can access coupons online. As per PopSugar, "Be sure to check out online coupon sites like Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, SmartSource.com, and CouponNetwork.com, which are apparently the best sites to print from. Further, 'like' your favorite brands on Facebook to get access to some of the coupons they give out over the social media network."
Huffington Post reminds us that savings from coupons can be stretched even further. "Double your savings by combining coupons with what's on sale at your local store. The store's circular is the best way to know what's being promoted." Plus, some stores offer a "double coupon day" where the savings can be multiplied, so try to shop on that day for even more money left in your pocket!
Snack Before You Shop
Going to the supermarket on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster – both financially and for your waistline. Instead of sticking to your shopping list and buying the best foods for you and your family, you'll be tempted into anything and everything that looks delicious – many times high-priced and not-so-good-for-you items.
Time Money notes, "A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that consumers are likely to spend more if their appetites have been stimulated beforehand. That's probably why baked goods and rotisserie chickens are placed by the entrance of the store. Combat those tempting odors by eating a mint—which satiates hunger and can help overwhelm other scents—or by making sure your belly is full."
You don't have to have a 3-course meal if that's not convenient or it's not the right time. Simply grab a piece of fruit or a protein bar. It will give you enough power to combat all those temptations. And don't bring along someone who's "hangry" either… they'll sabotage your willpower!
Try a Meal Delivery Service Instead
If all this grocery shopping how-to info's got ya down, a meal delivery service may be just what you need. Starting at just $8.74 per serving, Blue Apron will deliver farm-fresh, seasonal produce, no-hormone added meats and poultry, sustainably-sourced seafood, and all the other recipe needs you'll require in order to make healthy and quick meals for your family. Get started with a plan that's perfect for you.