It’s easy to go to the grocery store and start piling things into your cart. Next thing you know, you’re standing at the checkout wondering how the bill got so high. Here are five tips to help you avoid that shock.
Go into the grocery store with a plan
Before you go, inventory what you have at home. Figure out what you have, what is almost gone and what you need. This will help you avoid buying food that you don’t need or won’t use before it spoils. Can you buy certain products in different places? The cheapest toilet paper and the cheapest vegetables might be found in different stores, for example. Try planning your meals and snacks for the next few days or the week and buy only what you need. Lastly, make a list of what you will buy and where you will buy it. This way, when you enter the store, you’ll know exactly what you are looking for. Grocery stores, like any other business, want you to buy their products. Avoid wandering down aisles just to see what’s there or picking up a chocolate bar while waiting at the checkout.
Compare prices and packaging
We can buy many pre-cut, ready-to-eat foods, but are they really the best purchase? Store-made parfaits are convenient, but how about buying a tub of yogurt, some seasonal fruit and a bag of granola? You can prepare multiple parfaits at home for less. Deconstruct your favourite ready-to-eat foods, checking the price of each ingredient. You can then compare and decide what is more cost-effective. Don’t forget to compare bulk food prices to the same prepackaged food. Buying food in bulk can sometimes be cheaper, while also allowing you to buy the amount you need.
Take advantage of deals and discounts
Flip through the store’s flyers before you go and plan meals according to what is on sale that week. Sign up for the store’s loyalty program; many give discounts or money back to spend in-store. Did you receive coupons in the mail? Look through and see if any of the items are on your list, or even build your list around them. Most importantly, remember to take the coupons with you when you go shopping! Is pasta sauce on sale for 2-for-1, and you love eating pasta dishes? Take this opportunity to have an extra on hand. However, avoid going overboard stocking up on extra items. Buy what you know you will use.
Stick to the store brand
From canned goods to bread, many stores have their own brand that is noticeably cheaper than the name brands. While the store brand may have plain, unassuming labelling, it can be just as good as the others. Switch to the store brand first, then make adjustments after. Maybe you prefer a name brand salad dressing, but the store brand canned tomatoes work just right in your favourite chili.
Bring Your Own Grocery Bag
In an effort to reduce plastic, many grocery stores are charging for plastic bags. It may not seem like a huge savings after just one trip, but consider how often you buy groceries. Over time, those pennies that you might have spent will add up to several extra dollars in your pocket. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also be contributing to reducing plastic waste! Consider finding a bag that you fold up and keep with you so that you are always sure to have one on hand. If you have a car, keep your grocery bags in it so they are always available when needed.