Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Grocery Shopping 101

Grocery stores are masters at merchandising.  There are nice smells when you  enter that are piped to the front of the store from the bakery.  Lots of 'sales' stocked up at end cap locations.  (the shelves that get our attention at each end of an aisle)  Here's the secrets.  old time frugalistas know these, but frugalistas in training need to be informed.

1) Eat before you go to the store.  The bakery smells won't effect you when you're full.  If this isn't possible, have a few snacks in the car so you will not be tempted by the smell of fresh bread baking.

2) If at all possible, go alone.  Bringing family will cost you an extra 10% -20%.  I'm not talking about just the kids here!

3)  Have a list and coupons ready.  Stick to the list, unless there is an unadvertised sale on stock up items.  If your kids like a certain cereal and you know you have to buy it every week, stock up when it's on sale.  I use to hide the stock so the kids didn't over eat because their little eyes saw loads of an item.  Can you imagine what 5 boxes of their favorite cereal looks like to them? 

4) Shop the perimeter of the store first.  Fruits and veggies, dairy, and other essentials are stocked around the outside of the aisles.

5) Become familiar with your store.  The less time spent in it, the less money is spent.

6)  Look on the bottom shelves and top shelves for lower prices.  The only areas the bottom shelves have higher prices is where items children are interested in are.  Like the cereal aisle has the larger boxes on the bottom shelf.  More money for the store.

7)  I have begun shopping every 2 weeks, with a goal of going once a month.  I buy milk and fresh veggies when we need them.  Here's where I can balance the cost of my time with the cost of food.  If you are a working mom, the savings are in both areas - time and money.

8) Warehouse stores have some good deals, but make sure it is really a deal.  I can get shampoo for free or close to free at a drug store that has rewards with 10 minutes of planning.  I noticed flour and basic supplies are priced well at my warehouse store and they accept coupons.

9) If the price of an item goes up drastically it is because the company thinks they can get that much.  It's a good seller.  I have been known to boycott products when I feel the company or store is getting too outrageous in pricing.  Six months later the items are 'on sale' for a year.  This tells me there are other women who are boycotting too.  It may be just me, but I don't like the feeling of being held hostage to any item or company.  I'm flexible and will find an alternative or go without.

10)  Use alternatives to sandwich meats.  Egg salad, tuna, ham salad, chicken, pb and j all make good alternatives.  Sandwich meat has lots of additives and is extremely expensive.

11)  Check the food supply at home before you go to the store, at least once a month.  Waste is high in this country and can cost hundreds of dollars every year for a family.

12)  This should have been first on the list.  Create a budget and stick to it.  After a few weeks you will be able to stay in budget.  Use a calculator in the store to check your total.

13)  I don't want to forget to mention end caps.  Most shoppers have been conditioned to think items placed on end caps are on sale.  This is not true, so check carefully before you put it in your cart.

Our budget is done on a monthly basis because I spend more one week than the other three weeks.  Any money I have left over gets put into savings, not brought into the next month.  You can put any money saved on anything that serves your family needs, like paying down debt.  It's the shopper's choice.

 Let us know what your secrets are by posting a comment below.  Other shoppers will be happy to learn from you.

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