Be a Better Grocery Shopper
If there's one thing I'm pretty good at, it's shopping. Just ask my debit card... Oh the stories it could tell you. Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom doesn't exactly afford me ample opportunity to exercise my clothes, shoes, makeup, and housewares shopping skills all too often, but I do get to grocery shop quite a bit. You might be surprised to know that I actually enjoy grocery shopping...but I know that's not the case for everyone. So today I want to share my tips on being a better grocery shopper - just some of the ways I save time, money, and frustration at the grocery store.
No. 1 - Limit Your Trips
I have made it pretty obvious that I'm a big advocate for meal planning and there are several reasons for that. But mostly it's that I can get all of what I need for the week with one trip to the grocery store. Then I don't have to drag everyone out and spend precious time at the store 3-4 times a week to get stuff for dinner. And I'm saving money because I don't have the opportunity for impulse purchases while I'm there. Even if you meal plan for the next 2-3 days and limit your grocery shopping to twice a week, limiting it at all is much better for your budget and your sanity. 4+ trips a week at the grocery store? Ain't nobody got time for that.
No, 2 - Check Your Kitchen First
Write down the specific ingredients you need for your specific dish/dishes and take inventory in your fridge and cabinets before you go. You may already have half and onion and lasagna noodles for Vegetarian Lasagna Roll-Ups so all you need is eggplant, ricotta, and marinara sauce. Food waste is a huge issue and a lot of times we buy things even though we might not need them "just in case." Make it a point to only buy what you need and know you'll use. And if you find yourself at the end of the week with lots of leftover ingredients, try to use them up before shopping for new things.
No. 3 - Make Your List Specific
It's also no secret that I love lists. Heck - this post is a list. But I'm especially a fan of very specific lists for the grocery store. "Stuff for dinner" is not a list. It's an invitation to buy stuff you may or may not need. I always write down specifically how much of something I need. I don't just write "Basil." I write "1/2 cup basil" so I know not to get the larger bunch of basil. I write down "1.5 lbs Chuck Roast" so I don't get too much or too little. It ensures I always have enough to make my recipes, but not too much so that I'm not wasting food. And if you want a treat, put it on your list! That way you have a built in splurge, and don't go crazy grabbing little treats around the store that end up being an extra $20 and 2,000 calories.
No. 4 - Bring Your Own Bags
Not only is this a big positive for the environment, it also saves you time and money. Most stores give a discount for every reusable bag you use. And for some, that includes reusable produce bags. I've gotten a whole dollar off of my purchase before just by using reusable bags. And I know a dollar sounds pointless, but by doing that every week for a year, I'm saving $52 a year just by bringing my own bags into the store so they pay for themselves pretty quickly. Plus, reusable bags are sturdier so you don't have to worry about sprinkling canned goods all over the yard as you're bringing groceries in.
No. 5 - Go In The Morning or Late At Night
No only is the store less busy during these times of day, this is also when they're restocking the shelves so you're more likely to find what you need and find fresher produce. And if you need something specific, it's easier to find someone to help you. And you get better parking. I know it's not always feasible, but try to if you can. This is purely a frustration saving thing, but well worth getting up a little earlier for.
No. 6 - Join Their Loyalty Program and Use Easy Coupons
I don't know of any grocery store that doesn't have some kind of loyalty program. And unless it's a members only thing like Costco, they're usually free and most get you discounts on fuel as well. Register with your phone number so you don't have to search for a card every time.
Specifically for Target shoppers: If you're a frequent food-shopper at Target, you can get 5%-20% off of most Target-brand food just by looking for them on Cartwheel either before or during your trip. And if you search "MFR" in the search bar in Cartwheel, it will pull up all of the digital manufacturer coupons available at Target. You can't stack them like you can with paper ones, but it's an easy way to save some money for us non-extreme couponers.
So tell me, friends. What are your best grocery shopping hacks? Do you love to grocery shop? Hate it? How often do you go? Tell us below or on Social Media!