Tips for Effective Grocery Shopping

Today’s poor economy requires families everywhere to take austerity measures. Nowhere is this more evident than in the food we need to sustain life and health. With food and fuel costs on the rise and so many families suffering from unemployment, a carefully constructed budget is a necessity. Grocery shopping today requires more attention to buying the foods that sustain, rather than foods that add a lot of useless calories.

Shopping for groceries requires having a list of the foods needed to produce interesting meals. A list is a good way to enforce discipline. It avoids indiscriminate buying. It focuses your attention on the foods you need to make meals according to a weekly dinner plan.

Your job is like that of a professional chef who caters to the whims of his customers. If you do the shopping, you know the special tastes of your family so you can buy more of what they want and still stay within the food budget.

A good food shopper can save as much as 30% off the food bill. That 30% is not hard to do when you take advantage of advertised specials and the use of coupons. However, many a shopper buys things they have no need for just because they are on sale. This also applies to buying items in bulk. The average family can live quite well on a big bag of rice, pasta or dried beans, but there’s little point in buying something you never use.

Brand name products cost more than generic or store brand. You pay more for the packaging. One thing you should do is buy only food items at the grocery store. Non-food items such as spices, soap, shampoo and toothpaste are priced far lower in dollar and thrift stores.

The temptation to buy colorful packaging is bad enough, but shopping when you’re hungry, sick or tired is an invitation to overspend. To lessen the impact of buying on impulse you should eat before you head to the store. If you’re under the weather, stay home. You’ll only feel worse when you’ve completely blown your budget!

Few people realize that grocers get products delivered on Monday. The produce is fresh and the grocer has the day to restock the shelves and adjust pricing. The best time to shop is Tuesday morning. Shopping early in the day avoids the crowds and long lineups that occur over the weekends. Buy perishable items on Tuesday morning and buy canned or frozen foods later in the week when grocers want to unload inventory to make room for new products. The closest it is to store closing time, the more discounts you can take advantage of and the more bargaining power you have.

A good strategy is to buy essential items first. As you walk down the aisles you can pick up necessary items and record prices on a calculator. If there’s enough cash left over in the budget, you can retrace your steps and buy those cookies and ice cream you desire.

The items your grocer wants you to pick up are all at eye level. A good shopping strategy is to look high and at the low shelves that are often overlooked. The central aisles are where most people shop, but some of the best deals are found at the perimeter. Fruits and vegetables are located at either end of the store, but are often ignored.

Once you put your mind to it, you can save far more than you imagine. As a smart shopper, your family is not likely to notice many changes in the meals you serve.