I don’t like grocery shopping at all. It tends to take up a huge chunk of our budget, and I don’t like fighting crowds to grab what I need. It can also be really easy to stock up on delicious food that isn’t good for you at all. But, cooking your own meals is a lot cheaper than eating out and gives you more control over your food’s nutritional value. Keep reading to learn some of the grocery shopping tips that save us time and money in the store and help us eat healthier.
1. Plan your weekly menu
If you plan your weekly menu before you go to the grocery store, you’ll make sure that your list is complete and that you don’t have to scramble for dinner one night (which almost guarantees that you’ll end up eating out).
2. Always go grocery shopping with a list
Without a shopping list, it’s easy to forget things you need or pick up snacks you don’t need. When creating your list, look at what’s in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. This will prevent you from buying something you already have.
3. Prepare your list by aisle
Try to sort your list by where it’s located in the store. If you do this, you’re less likely to buy things you don’t need because you won’t even go down those aisles. Sorting your list by aisle will also help you get in and out of the store more quickly. After all, you don’t have to run back to the other side of the store because you forgot something.
I tend to shop at Kroger, and, luckily, their app automatically sorts my list by store location for me. If you have the option to use your store’s app, I highly recommend it!
4. Don’t shop hungry
You’ve probably heard this tip before – for good reason. It’s a lot easier to grab up your favorite snack if you’re hungry. So, you’ll probably end up spending more money than you planned.
5. Have a budget
Before you go grocery shopping, try to have an idea of how much you’re going to spend (your list will help with this). If you have a plan, you’ll be able to realize when you’re starting to spend too much.
6. Keep items stocked for your favorite meals
There are some days when you just don’t feel like cooking what you planned. Instead of going out to eat, make one of your favorite meals that’s quick and easy. For us, that would be tacos or Mongolian beef.
To make sure you can do this, check your pantry for the ingredients for those meals before you go to the grocery store to make sure you always have what you need available.
7. Buy in bulk (when it makes sense)
If you know you’re going to use something regularly, think about buying it in bulk from Costco, Sam’s Club, or a similar store. Before you do that, though, check the cost per unit or cost per ounce to make sure it will actually save you money to buy in bulk.
We always buy shredded cheese, canned chicken, unsalted butter, and soy sauce in bulk. We use each of these all the time, and it’s cheaper than buying them from the grocery store.
8. Only use coupons on things you were going to buy anyway
Grocery stores like to entice you to buy things you don’t need by offering you coupons. A coupon won’t save you money if you weren’t planning on buying that item. Instead, only use a coupon if the item was already on your shopping list.
9. Try store brands
I very rarely buy anything other than the store brand. My exceptions include Heinz ketchup, Guldens spicy brown mustard, Duke’s mayonnaise, and Durkee Famous Sauce (thanks to Very Vera).
When you buy the store brand, you’ll likely save a decent amount of money because you’re not covering the company’s marketing budget. Plus, you probably won’t notice the difference in taste.
10. Shop the store’s perimeter first
The store’s perimeter is usually where you’ll find fresh foods, like fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, fish, and baked goods. The long-lasting bagged and canned foods tend to be in the middle of the store. The more time you spend shopping the grocery store’s perimeter, the healthier the items in your cart will probably be.
11. Buy frozen fruits & vegetables
If you’re deciding between canned fruits and vegetables and frozen ones, go with the frozen ones. They won’t go bad as quickly as fresh fruits and vegetables will (so it’s okay if you don’t use them the day you buy them), but they don’t usually contain as much sodium as the canned versions. Look for fruits and vegetables that don’t have sauces, seasonings, or salt. You can add your own later and have more control over nutrition.
12. Shop the top and bottom shelves
The items on the center shelves in a grocery store tend to be more expensive because they’re at eye level. The manufacturers are willing to pay top dollar for that location because you’re more likely to buy something impulsively if it’s at eye level. Of course, you’ll then pay more to make up for how much the company is paying the grocery store.
By shopping the top and bottom shelves, you’ll usually be able to save some money and can often find healthier options.
13. Avoid one or two item trips
It’s really easy to run to the grocery store because you’re out of one or two things. The more quick trips you take to the store, the more likely you are to spend more than you budgeted for. Instead, write down everything you need throughout the week when you realize you’re out.
As a bonus, you’ll also spend less money on gas because you won’t be driving back and forth to the grocery store.
14. Don’t go to the grocery store when it’s packed
Around here, it seems like everyone goes grocery shopping on Saturdays and Sundays. If you go with everyone else, you’ll have to fight crowds, stand in long lines to check out, and won’t have as many choices because things will be picked over. If your schedule allows it, go to the grocery store when it’s not crowded.
15. Shop seasonally
You can get just about any fruit and vegetable in any region at any time of the year. But, shopping based on what’s in season in your area tends to be cheaper and gives you higher quality choices. And, the fruits and vegetables tend to be richer in nutrients.