Apologies in advance. I get preachy when it comes to grocery shopping. (Just ask Erin!) Yes, this week's Ten on Tuesday topic will get me started. . . we're talking Ten Ways to Save at the Grocery Store.
A little street market in Paris.
I am not really all that good at saving at the grocery store -- I don't tend to scrimp when it comes to cooking and eating. But I do make good use of the money I spend!
A little corner market in Amsterdam.
Here goes! My Ten (Preachy) Ways to Save at the Grocery Store:
- Cook and eat at home! It costs so much more to eat "quick" foods -- at restaurants, at fast-food spots, even already-prepared "convenience" foods. Sure, it takes a commitment to sit down to a home-cooked meal every day -- but it's worth it. . . in cost-savings, in your health and fitness, in your family relationships. (Sorry. Preachy.) Even through the busiest of times -- when I was working and going to grad school and dragging my kids to their activities and helping with homework (etc.) -- we sat down and ate a home-cooked meal every night. It took a commitment -- but I absolutely know it was worth it! It started as a cost-saver, and continues because it works.
- Shop once a week! The fewer trips to the grocery store you make, the lower your food bill will be.
- Plan ahead! Plan out your menu for the week ahead; take into consideration what your schedule looks like and plan your meals accordingly.
- Check out the sale flyer for your grocery store! I take a look (they're even available online now; I have my store's flyer sent to me by email) before I plan my menu for the week. That way, I can plan meals around what type of meat is on sale; what type of fish is available; what veggies are in stock.
- Make a list! Make that. . . a detailed list. Use your menu plan, figure out what you have; what you need. Note quantities, weights, specific details. Planning and list-making take some advance time -- but they are so worth it when it comes to shopping and cooking for the rest of the week.
- Use the list! I carry my list (in a little spiral bound notebook I keep in my purse) into the store - with a pen in hand. I cross off items as I put them in the cart. I make sure I have everything on my list before heading to the check-out line. (Can you say "Geek Shopper?" That's me!) Do not deviate from the list! Need what you buy. . . buy what you need.
- Do not go to the grocery store when you're hungry. And, if possible, go alone! (If I have either of my kids OR Tom with me, they put things in the cart when I'm not looking. I get to the check-out line and wonder where some of the stuff came from. Tom is the worst offender. Totally.)
- Avoid coupons! I know this sounds counter-intuitive. But most coupons are NOT for things you want. They are for things food manufacturers WANT you to buy. My grocery store spits coupons out with my receipt -- based on what I have just purchased (kind of creeps me out). 9.8 times out of 10, these coupons are for brands or items I would never use. I don't even take them. (Do you ever see coupons for vegetables? milk? meat? No. They're usually for a new brand of cookies or snack foods or convenience rice or something you probably don't really need.)
- Don't purchase non-food items at the grocery store! If you need shampoo or Tylenol or pens, pick them up elsewhere. They are generally overpriced at the grocery store.
- Join Costco (I wish) or Sam's Club (my only option, sadly) to save on bulk purchases! I hit Sam's every six weeks or so for paper products, bulk canned items I use regularly, things like that. It takes a certain restraint at Sam's. . . use a list; do not deviate; and, whatever you do, avoid the candy bar aisle!
Another little street market, this one in Montmartre.
And so ends my Preachy Rant about Grocery Shopping! Have a nice day!