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There are compulsive buyers, and then there are buyers who shop because of boredom or even because they hadn’t planned their last visit diligently. At some point, most of us would’ve visited the grocery store more than once a week and spent on unnecessary things. Post COVID-19 people have understood that a minimalist lifestyle is possible. As most of the times, going to the store, several times a week wasn’t an option. That significantly cut the grocery bills. It’s pretty simple, lesser the time you spend in the store, fewer the opportunities to purchase on impulse. Shopping less also means using up what I already have in-store, which further helps in cutting down on waste while reducing food costs.
Grocery is an inseparable part of any household, and every family has an assigned budget for it each month. There are few tips and tricks that might seem insignificant but have a significant impact on our shopping experience.
- Avoid going to the store hungry after work and or before dinner. You’ll end up purchasing more than what you need. When you’re going to shop with the kids, make sure everyone has a full stomach. Those ways, you won’t be buying anything extra; No snacks or eatables or anything that you don’t need apart from the usual grocery.
- It is a proven fact that when you’re shopping solo, you’re more likely to spend less time in the store in comparison to the time when you bring the kids or any friend along. It also saves you the pressure of buying unnecessary things like that pint of ice cream that no one would eat after two scoops or the cookies from the bakery. It’s relatively easy sticking to the list when no one is throwing items into the cart when you’re not paying attention.
- Sometimes it is unavoidable, but don’t go grocery shopping with children, it’s best to buy essentials when they’re not around. Children purchase food items that appear good, even if they don’t need it, and it isn’t always possible to say no.
- Make an exhaustive list beforehand and stick to it, even if the kids are nagging you to buy those extra chocolates. Make a budget for them and tell them ahead about the things that will be purchased for them exclusively so that they don’t push you for unnecessary items. Prepare a custom master list of things that you use frequently and keep that list on your phone so you can have easy access to it anywhere. It is a master list of items purchased often, but you can also add “special treat” for rarely purchased items to the bottom of the list.
- Plan weekly meals before going shopping so that you don’t skip essential items that will be required later on. Start making plans for the week if a month seems too much. There are apps like eMeals that help a lot with meal planning. You have to choose the meal, and they’d be happy to pull up the grocery list for it.
- Make a timeline of going to the mart as you will spend more if you stop at the grocery store several times a month. No matter how good your memory is, it’s best to write everything that you need in the grocery list, to ensure you don’t forget anything important.
- It’s a good idea to shop, first thing in the morning as you’ll be refreshed and fully charged up. There will be lots of energy and focus on making informed decisions, which won’t be possible if you’re physically tired and worn out or mentally preoccupied with something. Another advantage is, you’ll have to deal with lesser crowds of people which mean you’re less likely to impulse-buy in peer pressure.
- Make a habit of recycling, and you can even involve the kids to return empty bottles and used cans for the deposit that you paid. Give that money to the kids to keep them motivated for the next time.
- Time is money. Shopping from a single place each time will help save your time and effort of finding the desired item.
- Cut down canned and packaged foods. Always clean your fridge and cupboards once a month to consume what you bought before buying more.
- Tidy cupboards and drawers; organize your food storage in a better way. So that repetition of products can be avoided. Watch expiry dates before stocking up. Its good to buy fresh rather than piling up too much. Don’t be fooled by hefty discount schemes, a 3 to 3 deal is useful if you are going to use all of them. Avoid buying snacks on the run as they’re less healthy and more expensive.
- Non–food grocery items like detergent and garbage bags can be easily bought at a discount store.
- With the advent of technology, coupons and discounts are a common thing, and a little money can be saved if these grocery apps are used smartly on either a Smartphone or tablet. It’s only a good buy if you will use it even if it’s ‘the best on-sale’ item at the moment.
- Aisles ain’t worth it: Essential items like dairy and produce are often very strategically placed at the end of the store. It forces shoppers to pass through the aisles, picking up irrelevant items that were not even there in the list prepared by them. It is best to avoid this walk and hit the shelves where the thing you originally wanted to purchase is kept.
- Coupons are a shopper’s best friend: If you out sites like coupons.com, you’ll notice that contrary to popular belief, coupons do help in saving money and even doubling it by combining them with what’s on sale. Just follow it weekly to get an insight into how it works and what are the offers.
- Using rebate apps, such as Ibotta or Fetch Rewards, can be rewarding, because it lets you earn cashback on groceries and other everyday essentials, such as soaps or cleaners. The rebates you get from these apps are no too much, but they add up when you claim several refunds in each trip to the mart.
- Skip the toiletries as it’s best to buy them from the local pharmacy as they’re much cheaper there. It’s easy to get in the supermarket, but that comes with a price.
- What’s in a (brand) name: Well, generally there is a notion that this particular brand of cereal is better than the other, but if you’re a regular buyer who has had all his options explored, you might’ve seen that the generic options are equally good. Even the pricing is better than the branded one as brands take money for their name. It is best to check the ingredients on the packet though to be sure if you’re getting the same product or not.
- A smart buyer is a vigilant buyer: keep your eyes and ears open, look up and down, because picking up any item because usually the priciest items are held at the eye level to catch the buyer’s attention.
- Say no to prepared food; you’re already at the store and doesn’t matter how good or tempting it looks, don’t buy precooked food. It’s better to cook fresh and in a fraction of the price at home.
- Eat seasonal fruits and veggies: in-season produce is moderately cheaper than out of season produce which travels far and costs a rocket. Also, it is much healthier to eat that food since it has all the ingredients that are required for that particular season.
- Spice it up: Make that trip to an international market it will save you a ton on spices and similar ingredients.
- Drink free from the faucet as a 16 oz bottle costs around 1 dollar, and since an average person drinks about 3-4 per day, its sums up to a fair amount of money. It’s best to drink out of your faucet and save in on unnecessary purchases.
- Pre-washed salad and fruits are insanely expensive, and while it might be convenient to buy a well cleaned pre-cut lettuce or a watermelon, it costs thrice more than the original price! If you are inclined to save it will start with small steps like these. Cutting your veggies and fruits would be a great start.
- Bagged produce or pre-cut veggies might help you get dinner on the table in a flash but at a very high cost, mostly twice or thrice the price of whole vegetables and fruit; and also have a shorter shelf life than whole foods. Prepping food yourself might take some time, but it’s meditative and relaxing.
- Start your herb garden: fresh herbs are expensive. Rather than throwing money like this, you can opt to buy the plant and grow your herb garden, even if there is a small space.
- Just grate your cheese; like with pre-packaged lettuce and pre-cut fruit, grated cheese costs you extra for the convenience. But it’s not that hard to grate your cheese. With a less expensive block of cheese and a cheap box grater, you can start saving money on this ingredient.
- You don’t need that spice mix; you can learn to make your spice mix with different kinds of seasoning in a much lower price.
- When you buy seasonal stuff, the local farmers market often have some excellent deals as compared to a grocery store. You might get more of a particular vegetable at a farmers market. The food that you’re buying is freshly picked, unlike grocery stores, where it is stored in warehouses or trucks.
- Preserving in-season fruits and vegetables costs lesser than buying out-of-season produce. Buy in bulk and save them in the freezer. Herbs like oregano and sage can be used later if they’re kept safe in a container after chopping and freezing.
- Fruit and vegetables purchased in-season tend to cost much lesser than out-of-season produce. You can either get it from a conventional grocery store or a farmers market. Another way to extend your food dollar and make the harvest last is to preserve a fair amount of produce in advance.
- Preserving produce isn’t complicated at all; it doesn’t even require buying any special equipment. You can also chop fresh herbs and freeze them or dry hardy herbs like sage and oregano. Buying and preserving food can be an exciting endeavour, but it is advisable to not spend too much on it if you’re not too fond of using them.
- Getting acquainted with cheap pantry staples helps a lot. Staple meals like rice and beans are so much in demand in many cultures around the world because they are incredibly healthy, budget-friendly and have a longer shelf life. They can be prepared in limitless variations, so you won’t ever be bored with it.
- Buying the Day-Old Bread & Past-Prime Products is a cheat code one can use if you don’t mind toasting your bread a little. Many grocery stores sell day-old fresh bakery goods for a good discount. These deals are mostly in the bakery section, produce section or dairy aisles.
In conclusion, it is clear that certain habits if practised, can save money on food and cut down the grocery bills and. A smart shopper should not focus on just saving money; cutting down on wastage, is also a noble thought.