Ominous. Overwhelming. Big. Confusing. Any other words come to mind when that dreaded day comes that you have to make that trip to the store to stock up on food? Here are some simple tips to help make your next trip to the grocery store more effective and less stressful:
Shop weekly. If you try to shop once a month or every other week, you will ultimately buy food that spoils. Shopping weekly for specific items prevents that, as well as additional trips to the store for “forgotten” items.
Plan ahead. Decide on Saturday morning what your menu for the week will look like. Determine which ingredients you will need for that week, and hit the grocery store as early as possible to get the best deals on meat and other specials. If you prefer not to shop amongst the crowds, Sunday evenings are also a great time to shop, as there tend to be less people at the store.
Make a list. Using your planned menu, make a list of all ingredients you will need, and stick to it when wandering through the store. Don’t be tempted by “taste testers” or by your kids’ desires for extras. Lists make grocery shopping easier and much more effective than wandering around blindly.
Shop for Health. For healthier food choices, shop the perimeter of the store first. Fresh veggies, meats, dairy, and breads tend to be on the outer perimeters of all grocery stores. Once you have filled your cart with fresher ingredients (remember, your list is for a week), you can then hit the inner aisles for necessities such as pasta, rice, and even frozen pizza for your Friday night meal!
Check for coupons. Saturday and Sunday morning papers, as well as some Friday night papers, will carry coupons for your local market. If you are price-conscious, you will want to use the coupons for items that are cheaper than items you may normally buy to save money. Note the extra money you save, and use it for fun spending, like a night out to dinner or a special trip to your local ice cream store.
Bring your calculator. Especially if you are on a budget, using your calculator with each purchase will help ensure you stay within your budget. You will also avoid purchasing items you don’t need because you will know that you will not be able to afford them.
Eat before you go! Silly, it may seem, but you do not want to go to the grocery store hungry. A curbed appetite will keep you from buying things that sound good to you at the time, but are not really what you had in mind for that week.
Effective grocery shopping can be attained by implementing a few or all of the above items. The most important thing is to ensure that you plan in advance, and stick to your plan. You will save money, time, and spoiled food, as well as potentially learn to enjoy Saturday mornings (or Sunday evenings) at the grocery store.