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Grocery shopping is inevitable, we all have to do it. Every month, my grand grocery bill comes out to be so expensive. Over the years, I've been slowly changing my habits to lower the cost and let me tell you, there are some win-win strategies. When you shop less but better, you can save money. Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve this goal.
Wanting to save money while shopping for food begins even before you leave your home. Take into account your current inventory because you want to avoid over-buying. Knowing what you have will help you reduce waste as well as help you work out a meal plan for the week.
Creating meal plans is one strategy that can help you to save money. You will have a much clearer idea of what you need to feed yourself and your loved ones.
Make a List and Stick with It
Once you have your inventory list and meal plan, it'll be much easier to make your shopping list. Make a clear, easy-to-read list of all of the items you need, including quantities. If you are making multiple stops to different stores, note the store names as well. You can go the old-fashioned pen and paper way or you can simply jot the list on your smartphones.
Be persistent and stick to the list. Impulse buying can be a common problem but there are plenty of ways to break the habit. For example, avoid the free sample aisle.
Shop at Sustainable Grocery Stores and Farmers' Markets
Although sustainable, local, eco-friendly and organic foods are a bit on the costly side, you can potentially save money in the long run. It's worthwhile to consider that locally grown, organic produce often has great nutritional value.
Yes, farmers' markets have a reputation to be on the pricier side but your farmers' markets probably have better deals than you might imagine. The key to shopping sustainably is not about finding the cheapest bargains, but rather finding fresh, whole foods.
Check for Discounts/On Sale Items
Many of us are suckers for discounts and coupons. An app that I use that is helpful is called Flipp. Flipp is a one-stop marketplace for savings and deals. It uses your location to find deals from stores near you, so you're always getting relevant and dependable information.
Additionally, consider buying in bulk, whenever possible. In most cases, buying in bulk is way cheaper than buying individuals items. Before investing in it, ensure that you're able to finish the product(s) within the expiration time. If not, you can always share with your friends or family to divide and conquer.
Shop the Perimeter of the Store
This is something that I learned recently... the perimeters of the store offer fresh and healthier foods compared to the middle aisles. You can usually find fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, lean meat, eggs and low-fat milk products on the perimeters. Go to the middle section to find the pop, candy and chips products.
*Disclaimer: there are some middle aisles where other nutritious staples such as whole grains, beans, nuts and granola are sold.
Don't Shop Hungry
When you shop on an empty stomach, everything suddenly looks delicious! You may be more tempted to make impulsive decisions and purchase unhealthy foods you don't need.
Buy in Season Products
Purchasing seasonal produce is typically less expensive than buying it during its off-season. For example, watermelons in summer. This relates to the simple concept of supply and demand; in-season produce is in large supply so it is sold at cheaper prices to maintain demand.
Look at Expiration Dates
Choose the best product with the latest expiry date if you know that you're not going to use it yet, giving you ample time to eat it all and prevent food waste. If you happen to come across something that is almost expired and you're certain you cannot use it on time, try to donate to food shelters.
Bring Reusable Bags
One major way to be cost-effective is to bring your reusable shopping bags. Bringing your reusable bags can help you avoid the charges for disposable plastic bags. A trick is to carry just enough bags with you and you may be less tempted to add more items to your list or pick up more as you go. A couple of produce bags, muslins bags, net tote bag and maybe a large canvas tote bag such as a multi-pocket tote bag will suffice.
Not sure which produce bag to get? Check out our previous blog on How to Choose Between Grocery Bags
Shop yours today:
Sign Up for Loyalty Reward Programs
Depending on your location, several grocery store chains that include reward programs for shopping at their stores. This includes cash-back credit cards or a point system for free products. For example, Starbucks with their reward program, Metro with Airmiles and Fortinos with PC Optimum.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you should be able to reduce your grocery bills while maintaining a good grocery list.