Living on my own, I’ve gotten to experience the ups and downs of grocery shopping. My apartment is two minutes away from a Kroger so I’m never far away from the magical grocery shopping experience.
Here are some really useful and practical tips to save you money and time on your next grocery store trip.
- Keep a list: Maintain a running list in the Notes section of your phone of all the things you’ve run out of in the pantry and fridge as well as the things you’ve decided that life so far has been incomplete without (like chocoalte chip Eggo waffles). That little shopping list keeps me focused when I’m in the store and helps me get everything all in one trip.
- Gas discounts: Some grocery stores offer discounts on gas, and you should take advantage of that. Kroger offers 3 cents off gas and then 10 cents off if you spend $100 on gas and groceries combined.
- One trip to rule them all: It was a Saturday morning and I was making crepes. I reach into my fridge to grab the milk and to my horror, discover I was out of milk. So, I drove to Kroger (looking gross, having not showered yet) and bought the milk, along with other impulse buys (candy). So now I try really hard to avoid going to the grocery just for one thing because I know I’ll end up buying things I don’t need.
- Cut out coupons: I’m a big fan of cutting out coupons from the Sunday paper. Make sure to only cut out coupons you think you’ll actually use. Heck, you can even invest in a coupon organizer. I’ve got one. Try to use coupons to help you buy the things you already buy. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. I learned this the hard way.
- Digital coupons: Grocery stores have entered the twenty first century. Kroger, my grocery store of choice (similar to drug of choice), offers digital coupons. This is da bomb because you simply buy the product for the coupon, scan your Kroger card (beeeeeep) and the coupon is magically applied. You don’t have to tell the cashier you’re using the coupon or hand him anything. It’s a win-win for you and the teenage cashier with long dark brown hair and bright green eyes.
- Free items: Kroger offers a free item every Friday. It’s e-mailed out to Kroger members and all you do is load the digital coupon onto your card. Last week, I got a free pack of Belvita breakfast biscuits (which I never would’ve bought otherwise, but now I know how yummy they are), a two liter of Sprite (which tastes delicious with peppermint schnapps), a big bag of cereal (that I gave to my mom), and other great stuff.
Some grocery stores offer free items
- Never go grocery shopping hungry: Eat at least a granola bar before. When you go in on an empty stomach, you will emerge with a full cart of food that you impulsively bought.
- Plan out your list according to the store layout: Depending on how your drug of choice, ahem, I mean grocery store of choice, is laid out, sort your list accordingly. So at my Kroger, I put the produce first then my canned goods, cereals, alcohol, etc.
- Choose the smallest cart: Heck, choose a basket if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The basket keeps you from loading up with stuff you don’t need. In Kroger, you’ll find me bee-boppin around with one of those lil baby carts. I love those carts like they were my own child. I could name it Carter…
- Buy generic: Consider the generic alternatives to save money. You won’t notice a difference and the price difference can be considerate. Often, the generic is cheaper than the brand name item bought with a coupon.
- Be polite: Move out of the way if you’re blocking something in an aisle, get off your cell phone, be courteous to the cashier and bag boy, and just be a nice human being to others in the grocery.
- Shop at odd times: If you want to shop in peace and quiet, avoid afternoons and evenings. Many people go shopping after work and I’ve noticed that’s when it can be very busy. Shopping late at night is a sure way to beat the crowds. You also get to meet other neat night shoppers, like yourself.