Grocery shopping is the most mundane task in everyday life. However, if you don’t plan carefully before you shop, you may end up spending a lot of money without realizing it. How many people can say that they only get what they need from a grocery store? Almost none. In every shopping trip, we often add extra items into our shopping cart as we walk down the aisles. This is not 100% our fault since grocery stores are designed to attract customers into buying more. Although sticking to buying only what is listed on our grocery list is not easy, it is not impossible, and here is what I usually do on my grocery shopping trips.
Before You Head Out
1. Make a Brief Visualization of Your Next Meal
The most important part of saving money on groceries is to plan what to buy. This task is the easiest but a lot of people decide to skip it all the time. To make sure I know what I need to buy, I often think about what I want to eat. Start with protein, then grains, then vegetables, must always have the veggies or your belly will hate you, and last but not least, dessert.
2. Look Into Your Pantry Carefully
More than once, I have looked into my pantry only to realize that I have more ingredients than I am aware of. This is the result of adding extra items into my basket during grocery shopping. Once you know what you want to eat from the last step, look into your pantry first to see if you already have what you need. In my case, I always have at least 1 or 2 ingredients that I will need to cook my next meal. For instance, if I want to make shrimp and asparagus stir-fry to serve over brown rice, I will look into my freezer to see if I have enough shrimps yet. Then, those asparagus should be bought fresh from the market so they will become item number one on my list. Next, I need some garlic and ginger. Whichever I do not have in my pantry, I will go ahead and buy. Since I always have a big bag of rice at home, I don’t have to buy rice every time.
In The Store
1. Round-Up The Numbers
While you are in the store, as soon as you add one item into your basket, note down the price. You can do this on your smartphone or a piece of paper. The goal is to keep track of how much money you have already spent. While you write down the prices, round them up. This will make the task easier as well as trick your mind into realizing that you have already spent a lot. For instance, if something costs $11.79, I will write it down as $12. If it is $6.10, still write it down as $7 instead of $6. The reason is very simple. If you add $11.79 to $6.10, you will see that you spent $17.89. The problem with this number is that you may forget the “89 cents” and think you have just spent $17. But if you add $12 to $7, you will see that you have spent around $20 already for just two items.
2. Look for the Discounts
Nowadays, discounted prices are among the most effective ways to draw customers’ attention. Retailers can trick customers into buying more because everything looks cheaper. However, if you stick to buying only what you need, discounted items are a blessing. Do not forget to look closely during check out. More than once, I had to stop the cashier and asked him or her to match the price with what I saw either on the store’s website or the pop-up sale tags. Even though you see a discounted price, the system may not work properly, and you may end up paying full price. Just be careful every time you check out and ask for a price change if you can find a cheaper price. Most stores will gladly honor your discount.
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