6 tips to saving money in the grocery store

Eat healthy while sticking to a budget by assessing your culinary needs before you hit the supermarket. Follow these six tips to equip your kitchen with the essentials without paying a fortune.

6 tips to saving money in the grocery store

1. Make a list

  • Before you go food shopping, write down what you need. Searching for inspiration not only wastes time but you'll also end up buying too much.
  • Never shop on an empty stomach. Eat before you shop — it will take the edge off your appetite, and you're more likely to save money by buying only what you need.
  • Keep a notebook and pen in your kitchen. As soon as you deplete your stock of a pantry item or are getting close to using up a necessity such as tea or milk, add it to the list.
  • If you have a preference for a particular brand or store, note that down too so whomever does the shopping gets exactly the right item.

2. Stick to your list

  • Making a shopping list and sticking to it are two different things.
  • Research shows that the average shopper buys one unlisted item from every supermarket aisle every time he or she goes shopping. If the store has 10 aisles, that adds up to at least ten items, at about $2.50 each, for 52 weeks; that's an extra $1,300 each year you could have kept in your pocket!

3. Group your list

  • Organize your shopping list in the same way as the store is laid out to prevent wandering — and possible impulse buying.
  • The more you wander up and down the aisles to pick up the next thing on your list, the more you'll be tempted by extra items.
  • This simple organizational trick could save you 15 percent on shopping bills.

4. Check flyers and ads

  • When you see local newspaper ads or supermarket flyers with special prices on foods you buy regularly, circle the dates and clip them to your list, or make a note directly on your list for that store, noting the sale item and sale dates.
  • That way, you won't buy something only to discover later that a similar item was on sale for much less.

5. Shop big only once a week

  • Don't visit any store more than once a week.
  • Generally, aim for a once-a-month big shop at a discount warehouse or cut-rate grocer to stock up on pantry items.
  • You'll probably need to visit your regular supermarket about once a week for things that you buy in smaller amounts and every two or three days for perishable items such as milk, fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Remember, the more you shop, the more you will buy.

6. Analyze your purchases

  • Every time you pick up an item that's not on your shopping list, note it down with a different coloured pen.
  • If you add more than half a dozen items, you are in danger of losing control of your spending.
  • Most people are shocked by their food bills — and would be even more dismayed to see where the money really goes.
  • You may find that more than 20 percent goes to non-essentials.

You can now work out what you can do without. This exercise could save you significantly on your next food bill!

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