So you came to the grocery with a mission: buy milk, detergent, and some chicken fillets for dinner. But fast-forward 20 minutes and you’re walking away with five bagfuls of groceries. How did you let this happen??
Many would say that the grocery store, like most commercial establishments, is a money trap. It was literally designed to make you buy more than you set out to. Why do you think they put basic ingredients like meat, produce, and dairy in opposite corners of the store? Do you think it’s an accident that the cashier stands are always stocked with your favourite sweets?
How you should stop wasting money on groceries:
Be a savvy shopper and stop wasting money on groceries with these simple steps.
1. Buy generic instead of branded
I mean, can you really tell the difference between a name-brand orange juice and the grocery’s in-house brand? In most cases, it just makes more sense to buy generic. If you’re unsure, compare the labels of a branded item with a generic one to see how they differ. Chances are, it won’t be by much.
2. Avoid pre-washed, pre-cut, pre-grated, pre-anythinged foods
You’re already at the grocery, which means you can easily buy the ingredients you need to prepare and enjoy a fresh meal. Yes, pre-made foods are more convenient, but they’re also more expensive and often not as healthy as something you’d prepare from scratch. Stop wasting money on groceries that are not even going to do good to your health!
As for pre-washed salad and pre-cut fruit and veg, while they save you some time, is it really worth it? After all, you end up paying more money, getting less food, and creating more waste when you could do the washing/cutting yourself in 5 minutes flat!
3. Make a list, check it twice
Don’t get distracted. Remember your quest for milk, detergent, and chicken fillets. To do that, write a shopping list and stick to it. Try not to wander into aisles you don’t need to, lest something “accidentally” makes it way into your shopping basket.
4. Arm yourself with a full stomach
As a rule, we shouldn’t make any money decisions when we’re in a compromised state of mind, and hunger can definitely wreck a person’s mental faculties. When you go to the grocery hungry, everything looks extra appealing, which is why you end up buying so much more than you actually need.
5. Leave the kids at home
If your kids are older, having them tag along and help you tick off your shopping list is a good idea, but if they’re still pretty young, leave them home if you can. It’s so much easier to give in and let your kid have what he wants than to argue with a determined toddler.
6. Compare grocery store prices
Some grocery stores sell cheaper produce than others, while others would have cheaper meats or paper products. Pay attention to the prices of grocery items you regularly buy and see if you’re shopping at the right grocery store for your needs. Also, some products are just cheaper elsewhere—toiletries, for example, are generally cheaper at the pharmacy.
7. Buy in bulk—if you usually buy a lot of it anyway
It only makes sense to buy in bulk when it comes to items that you consume a lot of. Maybe your family drinks a lot of milk or eats a lot of meat. And of course, there are the essentials like toilet paper and soap. In those cases, it just makes sense to buy more. You’ll end up paying less, and you’ll cut down on trips to the grocery.
8. No swiping!
Paying with a credit card is so much more convenient, which means going beyond your budget is also easier. By bringing cash—and committing to paying with only that cash—you’ll be setting boundaries for yourself and your spending.
You’d be surprised by how much you can save by being aware of your spending patterns and sticking to a shopping list. The key to cost-effective grocery shopping is strategy, and now that you’ve learned these tips, you can create your own gameplan and stop wasting money on groceries.