Grocery shopping is a necessary chore, much like the laundry, gassing up the car or taking out the trash. You or someone in your family has to do it, whether you like it or not. Ok, so how about developing a strategy to make the best of it!!
First, how do you tackle your grocery shopping now? Are you one of those people who drop by the store several times a week just to pick up enough food to last for a few meals at a time? Are you in there so often that the store employees know your name and greet you fondly like they did for Norm on the TV show Cheers!?!? Or, maybe you're on the other end of the spectrum, and you have a designated shopping day each month, complete with an organized list and a handy coupon caddy which you actually use!
Given the busy lives that people lead these days, including myself, I would venture to say that without a deliberate effort many bounce around between these two scenarios with some months going better than others as they just deal with it. The long term problem with handling this "must do!" chore in this way is the loss of valuable time and money that can be spent elsewhere.
Take a few minutes to consider these points toward developing a frugal grocery shopping strategy!
- Make a complete list before you get to the store - Start a new list as soon as you get back from grocery store, and stick it to your refrigerator or somewhere else handy so you can easily add to it until your next outing.
- Think about good list organization. As you get familiar with where items are, you can order your list to follow your regular route through the store.
- Better meal planning - This is your opportunity to plan more nutritious meals from soup to nuts.
- Search the web or visit the local library for information on nutritious foods and easy meal planning if you need help.
- Check ads, visit web sites or call to see if specific stores have special sale days, such as double coupon or % off total purchase.
- Check those same ads and/or web sites for weekly sales as well as meal ideas.
- Determine the best place to shop - taking into consideration distance, selection and prices as well as how busy the store is.
- Think through and designate a block of time to shop each week or month. Consider times when the store is less likely to be busy, such as early in the morning or later at night.
- Consider coupons - To use coupons effectively, you should keep them well organized and easily accessible, such as with a handy dandy coupon caddy. Also, check store web sites for online coupons and don't be afraid to ask friends and neighbors to save coupons for you. Coupons for diapers and baby formula, for example can save you big bucks over time.
- Try Gift cards - some schools, churches and other organizations sell "No Fee" gift cards to raise money.
- Use a credit card that offers cash back. If you can handle credit cards, this is a good way to reap additional savings, just make sure your strategy includes paying them off each month.
- Consider online shopping and delivery services - Depending on the quantity you purchase, the time and effort you save can easily outweigh any fees. Imagine a cart full of groceries being delivered to your door without you having to deal with weather, driving, parking or crowds!!!
- Buy larger quantities of frequently used items so you don't have to return to the store as often (i.e. milk and bread).
- Pickup select, frequently used items, at more convenient locations, such as a gas station or local discount bread store. They often sell these items reasonable prices.
- Don't shop hungry - you might buy things you don't really want or need.
- Take someone with you - If you tag team on a shopping list you can get in and out faster as long as you are disciplined enough to stay on task and follow the list.
Planning your new shopping strategy will take a little extra effort now, but its well worth your initial investment to minimize the time you spend on this activity and reduce your monthly food bill. Happy shopping!!
I answer select questions and share experiences and tips through my articles. Feel free to write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Patrick Beaird, P.O. Box 9203, Springfield, IL, 62791