How To Be A Savvy Grocery Shopper
Tips for Scoring the Best Deals & Avoiding Splurges
From the moment you set foot in the grocery store, well-placed merchandise begs for your attention. Snacks, trinkets, and all kinds of goodies demand to be purchased immediately. Who can resist the temptations that await in the aisles? Armed with knowledge of the way many grocery stores work, you can keep your food budget in check while finding healthy alternatives.
Grocery stores employ several “traps” to ensure that you will spend more than intended. By understanding these common tactics, you’ll find it much easier to grab what you need without being lured by what you want.
Consider the following pitfalls:
The Bakery: Bread. We all love it. There’s nothing like the smell of warm carbs wafting through the air. The bakery gives you the opportunity to buy more than you really need. Do you really require a dozen donuts? Probably not. If you’re trying to rein in your budget, avoid the bakery altogether—unless it’s on your list. Endcap Specials: By placing “specials” on the end of the aisles, marketing professionals trick you into thinking you’re getting a great deal. But are you? Dig a little deeper and you’ll probably find a box of cereal for less than the “special” that was placed in plain view. Endcaps are typically stocked with comfort food, things that tempt you and beg to be placed in your cart.Coupons: Yes, even coupons can be a pitfall! Many coupons are printed to encourage customers to spend more. Instead of keeping all coupons, focus on using only the coupons that discount food you were already intending to buy.Free Samples: Retailers are catching on that priming your taste buds with a free sample encourages spending. One little taste can be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. By eating a sample, many people feel obligated to listen to the salesperson’s pitch, often grabbing a box before they leave the table. Free samples are not there as a courtesy—they exist because they sell.Distant Essentials: Think about your local grocery store. Where is the milk? Where are the eggs? Essentials are usually toward the back of the store. Why? You’ll have to waltz past a plethora of goods before arriving at what you originally intended to buy. This tactic turns quick trips to the grocery store into shopping sprees.Checkout Splurges: You’ve picked up everything you need, and then a wall of chocolate stares you in the face as you wait at the checkout. This is the store’s one last chance to compel you to spend more than you originally intended.
Make a shopping list. Allow the list to guide you through the grocery store. When you’re making your list, think about essentials and nonessentials. Grocery categories can help—so make use of the ones we’ve included in this book, four for each month. Stick to your list and don’t cheat!Practice tunnel vision. As you walk through the store, pay close attention to where you are looking. Become a person on a mission— don’t get distracted! Grocery stores often play soft music to slow your pace. Pop some earbuds in and energize your shopping. Stay focused, grab what you need, check out, and leave in a hurry!Analyze your trip. How well did you do? Did you stick to your list? What did you buy that you forgot to write down on your list before you entered the store? Critique your trip and find ways to make it more concise. Track your spending. Many people find it helpful to use the envelope budgeting system when grocery shopping. The goal is to lower your grocery budget while maintaining healthy habits.
Now you’re ready. Take your newfound shopping skills and apply them each and every time. Soon you’ll be shopping smarter and saving more than you ever thought possible.
To learn more helpful tips about planning menus, organizing coupons, saving time and money at the grocery store, and stockpiling your pantry, visit our store to purchase a copy of The Household Menu and Coupon Organizer.