I love to eat, but with that, comes the dreaded grocery store. Maybe you like grocery shopping, maybe you don’t. I don’t mind the shopping part itself, however, I do not like the road rage with a shopping cart and I definitely do not like paying for the end product. A trip to the grocery store can be very costly if you do not know what you’re looking for.
There are several things that you need to take into consideration when it comes to getting a good deal at the grocery store and making the most out of the trip. Below you will find a list of what you should be on the lookout for at the store, and what you need to do before you make that trip.
1. Always start with a list. I never go to the grocery store without my handy list of what I actually need. Try not to stray away from what you actually need as this will lead to a lot of un-needed spending.
2. Keep a list on your refrigerator and when you finish something off, add it to the list! This will ensure that you have all of your usual items and you don’t end up looking for something that you forgot to buy.
3. Group your items together on your list. All of your bread-like items will be in the same area so don’t write down a loaf of bread at the top of your list and mix in a package of bagels in the middle. This will reduce your time in the grocery store because you will not have to back track to pick up something you missed the first time around.
4. NEVER GO TO THE GROCERY STORE HUNGRY. Like literally! It’s the worst possible idea to go when you need to eat. You will over buy and your budget will go down the drain. If i estimated how much extra I spend when I shop hungry, I can say it’s probably about $50.00. That’s a lot of money in this day and age. Even if you are planning on picking up something for dinner, have a quick snack before you go to hold yourself over.
5. Meal Prep! If you are a meal prepper like me, then you will have your list ready for the meals you need to make that week. I like to throw everything together on Sundays for work all week. The last thing I enjoy doing first thing in the morning before I am actually awake is prep lunch for the day. I like those extra 15 minutes to sleep!
6. Have a budget ready to go before you leave the house. Chances are if you are not paying attention to what you have to spend, you will probably spend too much. I used to love getting paid cash over direct deposit as I always felt that I could better budget what I had available. Now it’s just a matter of setting aside a specific amount of money that I have to spend before actually spending it. I hate buying too much and having to run myself a little too thin money-wise.
7. Buy your vegetables frozen. Did you know that a lot of frozen vegetables are actually fresher than some you get right from the produce section? That’s just a little tip from a family of vegetable farmers. Frozen vegetables also keep longer than fresh produce.
8. Buy a few more non-perishables when they come on sale. I hate going in the closet and finding that we are on the last roll of toilet paper. We buy this item in bulk from Costco most of the time, but this means a trip into the big city more than an hour a way.
9. Use coupons if you can! Have you ever seen that crazy show Extreme Couponing? It’s insane how many discounts you can get through the manufacturer at your local grocery store. One tip with this is not to buy things that you aren’t planning on using in the immediate future or ever. The last thing you need to do is buy something that your family will never use. Not only is it a waste of money, but it’s a waste of food. Tip: Don’t be afraid to use a coupon. It’s what the manufacturer puts them out for! I hear of way too many people say that they don’t use coupons because of the stigma that is associated with it. Let me tell you! Would you rather save $100.00 a year or spend an extra $100.00 a year?
10. Be careful with sales! This is a major thing in my grocery store. You walk down an aisle and see a sticker on your favourite crackers. They’re on sale 2 for $5.00. Did you know that most of the time when you look closer at the sale sticker it actually says the price for one under the big fancy letters? I don’t know how many times I’ve been in the store and see a sale sticker that says 2 for $5.00 and in tiny print underneath 1 for $2.50. You don’t always have to buy more if you do not need them!
11. Watch for product placement! Did you know that suppliers will actually pay more for the grocery stores to place their items in special locations. Sugary cereal is always lower on the shelf so children can easily see them while a bran cereal is more apt to be on the top shelf and geared more towards adults. Take this into consideration when you look at the shelves. It’s a gimmick to get your child to ask for the items they see more visually appealing.
12. Pay attention when you are checking out. There have been times when an item will ring up wrong. When you have a budget it’s hard to stick to if several items are a few dollars more than what you thought they were. Tip: IF your grocery store offers self checkouts, go for an actual cashier. Chances are the self checkout will require an override and the one person on duty may take several minutes to get to you as they’re probably helping another customer. Most cashiers are quick and efficient as they do this all day long and see the same products everyday, so entering a code in is typically second nature to them.
13. Pay attention to what are on the labels of what you are buying. You will be so surprised when you actually look at the label to see what nutritional facts are actually there on what you are buying. I follow IIFYM and I am so surprised at the amount of sugar you may see in certain items that you would normally see as a healthy option. Make sure that you are aware of the different terms that may mean the same thing. Things like Sucralose and Fructose is just another way to say sugar was added.
14. Shop at off-peak times. I find myself in the grocery store after work at around 5:30. A lot of people work until 5 pm and find it convenient to go shopping after work on their way home. This can lead to a lot of bumper carts and long checkouts. Try shopping after 7pm. Most people want to be at home relaxing at this time, and when I go to the gym (my gym is above the grocery store and has to be access by going in the store) it’s never busy at around 7:30 pm when I am leaving to go home.
15. Price match. Did you know that most stores will now price match another large competitor. Check all of the flyers before you go and if you don’t want to trek across town to get that one item that is on sale, consider taking the other flyers with you to price match. My grocery store will actually take the price off of the online version of the flyer off my smart phone to save me from having to carry around the flyers.
16. Try an app for flyers. I recently stumbled across the “Flipp” app and honestly it’s the best thing ever. I can browse through all of the flyers as soon as they are available, and I can select each item that I want to purchase and it will add it to my list for me. It makes it super easy if you do not live somewhere where you might get the flyers delivered. It’s not just the grocery store flyers that are on the app, but also hardware stores and basically anything in your area. It’s tailored to me based on my postal code/zip code.
17. Don’t run to your closest variety store when you need quick items like milk, egg, and bread. I worked in a variety store for several years as my first job while in high school. The only thing that we purchased direct from a supplier was milk and there was a decent sized markup on these things. I remember seeing a can of Chunky soup on the shelf for $5.01. It was ridiculous! But that’s the price that has to be paid when you have to purchase everything at customer cost and mark it up slightly to make profit for the business. If you have the chance run back to the grocery store for simple little items you may have forgot.
18. Buy as little junk food as you possibly can. In Ontario, we have a Harmonized Sales Tax now. The variety store I used to work at had special codes on each of the price takes. Before HST a “0” on the tag meant no tax. a “/” meant GST only and a “$” meant both taxes. Junk food which is a bag of chips, a small bottle of pop, an individual sized pre-packaged ice cream cone. All of these things would have HST on them. A brick of ice cream, a 2L bottle of pop and things like this would have no tax on them. You may only want a small bottle of pop, but are you going to be buying a bottle today and a bottle tomorrow? You may want to think about buying one that is larger in size to save some money if you really want the junk food.
19. Use a point card if your grocery store offers one. My regular grocery store offers a points card. Each week I load new offers on my phone app and if I purchase one of those items I get extra points. Each 1,000 points that I each I get to use $1.00 towards the purchase of my groceries. I will typically save my points and use them at more money stricken times like Christmas. I usually find on the app that I get extra points for a lot of things that I usually by anyways. So it’s like killing two birds with one stone!
20. Skip the sugar drink aisles. I don’t even bother walking down the aisle with the pop, every drinks etc. anymore. Drink as much water as you can. This will cut down on the amount of high sugar drinks that you buy. This will also make the bill at the end of your shipping trip more enjoyable.
21. Check out your clearance section. There is a good chance that the items that you see in your clearance section are long from being expired. A lot of the times a grocery store will place discontinued items on clearance, or items that are not as big of a seller as they originally thought. They may purchase an item in a bulk quantity so they pay less and might have too much stock left sitting around. This was the case last year with my grocery store. One of my favourite drinks was quite cheap for a 12 pack when one can is typically 0.99 cents for each.
22. Be wary of your bread purchase. If you are the kind of person that buys a loaf of bread fresh from the bakery put it in a sealed package as soon as you can. A lot of the fresh bread baked by the bakery is in an open ended bag. It is done this way so your bread will go stale faster meaning you will have to make more trips to buy more. Also don’t be afraid to ask the attendant in the bakery to slide your bread for you. That is what they are there for!
23. Buy as much produce from a local stand as possible. Have you ever noticed when shopping for a bell pepper that sometimes there are a lot of wrinkly old looking things on display? That’s probably because they are old. I worked in a pepper greenhouse for a while and when we boxed peppers they would get sent to a city several hours away to a warehouse where they would be distributed to the stores. So once your peppers get picked they will be in transit for a few days before they even reach the shelves at your store. Most fresh produce stands have great deals on produce and the quality is usually great. Tip: If you purchase cucumbers, wrap them in saran wrap as soon as you get them home and refrigerate them to prevent them from going wimpy.
24. Take advantage of the free cookies in the bakery. If you are shopping with a child and you’re having a hard time keeping them good while you shop, stop by the bakery and ask for a free cookie. This was always my first stop when I was younger and shopping with me mom.
25. Bring your own bags. While using plastic bags can sometimes be handy for other uses at home, it is more environmentally friendly to use a reusable bag for your grocery needs. Designate a specific bag for you meat products, and wash after every use. Meat can cause harmful bacteria that could transfer to your fresh produce during the next use if not cleaned. Your local meat shop may have a special meat only bag that can be purchased for future use. By supplying your own bags you help save the environment as well as save a few cents per bag you bring.
These tips will make your shopping experience much more enjoyable.
What are some tips that you would recommend to add? Do you do anything differently that might make my trip more enjoyable?
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