Hey ya’ll! Since we’ve moved into our shopping portion of ‘The Plan’, I thought it might be a good idea to brush up on our grocery shopping tips and tricks to help us save a little time and money at the store.
Here’s a compilation of all the shopping tips I could find (well, the good ones anyway :))…
- Eat before you go! Duh. But do it! You’re far less likely to make impulse purchases if your tummy isn’t grumbling at you.
- Make a list of what you need before you go and then stick to it. Obviously if you see something at the store that should have been on your list but you forgot to write down, then go ahead and get it. But try to avoid any of those impulse purchases that you really don’t need and really can’t afford.
- Shop less. Try not to go to the store more than once a week. Not only will this save gas, but it also gives you fewer opportunities to make those blasted impulse purchases.
- Buy ‘Loss Leaders’. These are the real bargain items that are designed to get customers in the door (stores often sell these items at or below cost). You can often identify them because they will have a limit to how many you can buy. (But don’t just buy them because they’re there. Only buy them if you’ll use them!) So check the store circulars to see what incentives they’ve got and then add them to your list.
- Try store/generic brands. You may like them! And if not, most stores will refund your money.
- Coupons. Use them if you can handle it. Some stores don’t even need coupons. You can go online and upload sale prices to their ‘frequent shopper cards’ and then just scan that at the store. Either way, try to take advantage of the discounted offers out there.
- Stock up when items are on sale. I know some people say they never buy anything unless it’s on sale. Props to them. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s something I aspire to. 🙂 But I do try to stock up when there is a really good price.
- And on that note, know what a ‘really good price’ is. Just because something is in the advertisement flyer doesn’t mean it’s on sale. And 1 or 2 pennies off the regular price doesn’t exactly constitute a ‘sale’ in my book either, although the store will often tell you otherwise. So don’t get tricked by those little gimmicks.
- Shop the ‘Unit Price’. Sometimes buying in bulk is actually more expensive than buying the smaller/individual sizes! So check the unit price to find what is actually the better deal. (You can usually find the unit price on the sticker shelf label that lists the package price. If not, use a calculator and just divide the total price by the ounces in the package.)
- Remember that higher priced items are usually put at eye-level. So be sure to check the top and bottom shelves for better buys.
- Avoid ‘convenience foods’ when looking for the best deal (unless they’re on a fabulous sale). Sometimes I will buy pre-packaged or pre-sliced items because my time is more important than the money. But that is a rare occasion… or at least it should be. 🙂 It is much more cost effective to buy whole items and then cut them up yourself.
- Check expiration dates on dairy items as well as sale items. Frequently the items on sale are the ones that are about to expire. So don’t buy it if you won’t be able to use it before it’s gone bad. You’ll just be throwing away your money… no matter how good of a deal it was.
- Watch the scanner when checking out. This can be hard to do if you’re still unloading your cart (or if you have two wiggly toddlers running around), but errors occur more often than many of us think. If you catch an error in the price, some stores will give you the item for free. If not, at least you avoided overpaying. If you can’t watch the scanner, you could also check your receipt before you leave the store. But for me, once I’m out of the store, if I overpaid, it’s more of a hassle to go back and deal with the issue than to lose the amount of money I overpaid by (especially if I have kids in tow and ice cream that’s ready to melt). So try to catch it right when it happens.
Alright. Well that about does it. 13 tips. A baker’s dozen. Do you have any tips that work for you? Feel free to share it with the other readers in the comments. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend and happy shopping to ya’ll!