Going to the grocery store is one of those weekly tasks I dread, not only is it time-consuming, but it can be down right depressing watching the dollar signs flash before your eyes. Not to mention, lately it feels like an episode of Supermarket Sweep or perhaps shopping bumper carts. But there are a few ways you can avoid becoming Oscar the Grocery Store Grouch and save some money without extreme couponing.
1. DON’T GO ON THE WEEKEND
Seems like a no brainer, but yet most people go to the grocery store on the weekend when they have more free time. Avoid it and you’ll dodge the crowds, the stress, and the empty shelves.
2. Mid-Week NIGHT Savings
While shopping during the week may be hard to squeeze in, it won’t squeeze out every last dollar you have. Mid-week grocery shopping is more economical.* This is when most grocery stores release new savings, but typically still honor savings from the previous week too. Even better is shopping mid-week in the evening. Many stores will place perishables and/or overstock items on quick sale. Saving money and having space to dance through the aisles, seems like a win win! *Double check with your store to identify the mid-week savings switchover. It is typically Wednesday, but stores may vary.
3. Make a list
Making a list will give you a strategic plan so you don’t waste time (or money) mulling through the aisles. With advancing technology, many grocery stores offer apps where you can create your shopping list directly on your mobile device. Not only does this organize your items by aisles in the store (helping your husband identify those hard to find items), but it also gives you an estimated total of your purchase. This will help you stick to your budget and not have sticker shock when getting to the register. If you don’t have the technology to do this you can go old school with pen and paper. Write your list organized by department (Meat, Produce, Dairy, Aisle, Freezer, etc.). If you want to know what you are going to pay prior to checking out, take a calculator and add up the items as you place them in your shopping cart.
4. Plan your meals
Ever fill up your fridge with healthy options, but end up tossing them before you use them? Many people are great at making a grocery store list and sticking to their budget, but they don’t buy things they actually need. In my house we plan our meals for two weeks. Yes that may be ambitious, but it saves a lot of time, money, and most importantly waste. We create our two-week dinner list bi-weekly on Monday night adding in a few general items for lunches and snacks. Our meal plan is composed of complimenting ingredients so you are guaranteed to use all your perishables vs. tossing the wilted leaves a week later. Yes it requires some thought and time, but it’s much better than feeling like you are throwing away money.
5. If you can can can or let it go frozen
It can be really frustrating to buy fresh produce that will wilt or turn moldy in just a few days! There is an alternative, canned and frozen produce. In most cases it’s cheaper, it is guaranteed to last longer, and the nutritional value is comparable if not higher than the fresh stuff. And you’ll find more coupons for canned and frozen produce to get more bang for your buck. Yes, I know canned and frozen produce can not always replace the taste and texture of the fresh stuff, but if you are cooking your produce (vs. raw) then go canned and frozen. Just one thing to watch, read the ingredients which should only have the produce you are purchasing, no extra additives.
6. Make it a family affair
Part of the reason I always hated grocery shopping was the time it took away from my family, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s a night out on the town for us now, I know how exciting! The local Wegmans is fascinating to our daughter so again another win win. We start off our mid-week trip by having dinner in the prepared food section, which is quite expansive if you don’t know Wegmans. After dinner we tag team the grocery list to get it done faster, all while our 7 month old talks to the other shoppers, she loves it and therefore so do my husband and I.