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If there’s one thing that most people enjoy doing, I can say with nearly 100% certainty that it is not grocery shopping. Everyone I know just dreads going grocery shopping, and for a number of reasons. It seems like it takes hours, it can be really busy, and it always seems like you spend more money than you wanted. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much you can do about the time that it takes and how busy it is at the grocery store. You can, however, do quite a bit to make the final number at the checkout more manageable.
Make a List
The first step to a successful grocery shopping trip starts at home. Doing a little advance planning can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. Get a subscription to the Sunday newspaper and look over the weekly flyer to your grocery store and plan your menu for the week based on what’s on sale. Not only does this ensure that you’re buying what’s on sale, but it also helps to add some variety to your menu. Never tried asparagus before? Next time it’s on sale, give it a try. Grocery stores usually do a good job of putting different foods on sale at different times.
Making a list also helps save you money by serving as a guide of what you really need to buy. Have you ever gone to the store and bought a jar of peanut butter only to get home and find out you already had a jar almost completely full in the cupboard? By taking inventory of what you have on hand and planning out what you really need, you can take a big chunk out of your grocery bill.
Don’t Be Afraid of Store Brands
Did you know that the only difference between a lot of name brands and store brands is simply the label they put on the can or box? That’s right. For some products, one factory makes the exact same product. They run down the conveyor belt, and some move off to receive the name brand label, while others move off to receive the store brand label. I know this doesn’t apply to everything, but you’d be surprised. The only way to find out which store brand items are good is to give them a try. I’m sure you’ll find that some store brand products aren’t as good as the name brand, but I’m equally sure that for a good number of products you won’t be able to notice the difference.
On a related note, don’t just automatically pick up the store brand believing it to be less expensive than the name brand. Make sure you check the sales, as there are often times when the name brand product is placed on sale for less than the store brand. Coupons also factor in here, so make sure you compare the “after-coupon” price when comparing name brand versus store brand.
Look at Unit Value
Is it better to buy a 12-ounce jar for $3.49 or an 18-ounce jar for $4.49? Maybe you gravitate toward the smaller jar because it’s priced lower. Or maybe you gravitate toward the larger jar because you assume it’s the better value. The trick is that neither of these choices is correct 100% of the time. You simply have to do the math. In our example, the 12-ounce jar for $3.49 comes out to $0.29 per ounce and the 18-ounce jar for $4.49 comes out to $0.25 per ounce. The nice thing is that most stores actually list the unit price on the label on the shelf, so you don’t have to actually do the math.
What are you grocery shopping strategies?