We hope you’ll find these grocery shopping tips and tricks helpful. With a little planning and knowledge, you can cut your grocery bill significantly, and you’ll really see the savings add up over time!
Before You Go
Coupons: Is it really worth the time and effort to clip coupons? You bet it is. If you plan ahead you can often save 30-50% off your grocery bill. Don’t go overboard, buying things you don’t need just because there’s a coupon, but do be sure to make use of these handy money savers.
Eat Before You Shop: It’s never a good idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. In fact, the best time for food shopping is usually directly after a meal. This will help you cut back on impulse buys because, let’s face it, everything looks delicious when you’re hungry!
Make a List: Knowing exactly what you need while in the grocery store is an important way to save money and reduce wasteful spending. Of course, this only works if you stick to the list. If you find you still purchase a lot of items you don’t need, it might be wise to have your spouse, roommate, or partner do the shopping for you.
At the Grocery Store
Be Smart About Sale Items: It’s fine to go off list if you spot a particularly good sale while in the store, but be smart about it. Don’t get wrapped up in the thought of a great deal and buy items that will spoil before your family gets around to using them, but stocking up on staples with a long shelf life when they’re discounted can save you big in the long run.
Buy Produce That Is Not Completely Ripe: Unless you’re planning to use it immediately, it’s smart to buy fresh fruits and veggies that are a day or two from being at peak ripeness. This will keep them from spoiling too quickly once you get them home. It’s best to buy slightly green bananas and tomatoes and fruits that are still hard to the touch. Avoid potatoes and onions that have begun to sprout or any bruising on apples and other delicate fruits. If the produce on the shelves looks too ripe, ask the staff if they have more in the back.
Checkout Treats: Stores know that while you’re waiting in line, you’re a captive audience. So they put tempting treats like chocolate, candy, and gossip magazines in the checkout lanes to get you to spend more on impulse purchases. Resist the temptation and the savings will add up over time!
Know the Games Stores Play to Keep from Being a Pawn: Understanding and manipulating the way people shop is big business. Marketers carefully plan store layouts, displays, and other tricks to get the most money from every shopper. In addition, they use audio and even scent cues to get you to buy more. If you know their tricks, you’re ahead of the game and better able to avoid buying things you don’t need!
Look Up, Look Down: Brands pay a premium to be placed at eye level, so you’ll usually find the best bargains on the top or bottom shelves. Take a step back and scan everything that’s available before grabbing the first item you see.
Plan Your Route: In addition to planning what you will buy, you should be mindful of the route you’ll take through the store. Markets place brightly colored flowers and the delicious scent of deli and bakery foods at the front because you’re more likely to splurge on these while your cart is empty. Also, buying healthy items (like produce) first often leads to splurging on junk food later in your trip as your resistance to marketing techniques begins to wear down.
Research shows that the best way to combat over spending is to follow this route:
- Start in the middle of the store where you’ll find the boxed and canned goods.
- Next, head to the back of the store to purchase staples like milk and eggs.
- Finally, head for the produce section and other items at the front of the store.
Shop Seasonally: Fruits and veggies that are in season locally will be significantly less expensive than their off-season counterparts. If you buy summertime fruits in the winter, it may satisfy a craving, but you’ll have to pay a premium for the technology and shipping it took to make that item available off season.
Try Generics and Store Brands: You’ve seen all of the slick advertising and high-dollar promotions put out by the big name brands. The cost of that marketing gets passed on to the consumer. Meanwhile, store brands and generics may be white-labeled versions of the exact same item from the same factory! This is especially true of staples like canned goods, pasta, cereal, and frozen veggies.
When You Get Home
Once you bring your groceries into the house, there are some tricks that can help you keep them fresher, longer. Use these handy tips to save money by not having to throw away food and replace it.
Bananas: Extend the life of ripened bananas by separating them from the bunch and wrapping each stem in foil or plastic wrap. This will stop air from entering the banana and turning it from beautifully yellow to brown and spotty.
Brown Sugar: It doesn’t take long to turn brown sugar to a rock-hard lump in your pantry. Keep it fresh by storing it in an air-tight bag with a few marshmallows tossed in. If you’re storing the brown sugar for long, you’ll want to change out the marshmallows from time to time.
Herbs: Herbs like oregano, marjoram, rosemary and thyme do best when kept moist. Place them in a single layer on a damp paper towel. Roll it up loosely, and store in a resealable bag or in plastic wrap in your fridge. More leafy herbs like parsley, cilantro and basil do better if stored like fresh-cut flowers. Rinse them off, trim the ends, and place in a mason jar with a little water. Store in a sunny spot and remember to change the water regularly. The fresh flowers treatment also works for green onions (which will actually regrow!) and asparagus.
Lemons: If you’ve ever had a lemon dry out in your fridge, you’ll appreciate this tip. To keep lemons juicy, store them in a jar filled with water. They’ll stay fresh longer so you always have a squeeze of fresh lemon on hand.
Lettuce: If you find your lettuce greens tend to wilt before you get to eat all of them, try this handy storage tip: First, thoroughly clean your greens and get rid of any wilted or bad parts. Rather than cutting with a blade, tear your lettuce by hand. You’ll then want to get rid of as much moisture as possible, so use a salad spinner or dry it off with paper towels. Once your greens are dry, place them into mason jars or other glass jars with lids, and your lettuce will last longer than other storage methods.
Onions: To keep onions fresh for months rather than just days or weeks, try storing them in pantyhose. Place them in the hose, tie a knot between each onion to keep them separated, and store in a cool, dry place. It may look strange, but it will keep your onions fresh for up to six months!