Grocery Shopping: It Doesn't Have to be a Love/Hate Relationship
When it comes to buying groceries, many people have a love/hate relationship with the activity of purchasing food for their household. But it doesn't have to be that way. Before I learned how to be a smart shopper, I enjoyed looking around in the store for fresh and healthy foods for my family but hated shelling out way more money than I had planned for it. For those of you who don't like to grocery shop, here are some tips to make it easier, both on you and your pocketbook!
1) Get organized before you leave your home. Have a list already made, and try to stick to it as much as possible. Write your list in the order in which the items are laid out in the store. If produce is the first area you come to when you walk into the store, put your produce items first on the list. Then bakery, if that's the next area, etc. This way you won't have to backtrack throughout the store looking for items you hastily added to the list. To save money, add sale items to your list whenever possible, and plan your meals around the sales. If you are a coupon user, make sure to have your coupons with you before you leave for the store. Organization is key to getting in and out of the grocery store quickly.
2) Try to shop when the stores are the least busy. This will cut down on your time and aggravation of waiting in line. The best times to shop are early in the morning, or late at night to get in and out quickly. And this would mean never shopping the day before a snowstorm is predicted or the day before a holiday.
3) Shopping at more than one store, and purchasing the cheapest things at each, will save you money. But if you aren't up for that, find the grocery store in your area that has is the least expensive for the items you buy on a regular basis, and use that as your base store. The best way to do this is to go to the two or three of the closest grocery stores to your home. Bring a notebook and go through the store writing down the items that you normally buy, in the appropriate sizes. Write columns next to each and as you go to the stores, write down the price of each item. This is called a "Price Book," and by doing this, you will be able to get an overview of the base prices and which store will save you the most money to shop at on a regular basis. Keep in mind the coupon policy at each store. Department stores don't double coupons, but many grocery stores around the country do up to a certain amount. That in itself could save you money. If you choose not to use coupons, then just go to the store with the lowest prices across the board.
4) If none of these ideas take the pain out of shopping for you, consider using a store shop online and delivery service. There may be a fee associated with it, but at least it will keep you away from the store. And you can do your shopping when it is most convenient for you, even if that may be at 3:00 a.m. In my area in Connecticut, Stop and Shop stores use Peapod as a grocery shopping and home delivery service. There is a service charge for delivery of $6.95 for orders over $100.00 and also a gas surcharge, depending on how far your home is from the store. For orders under $100, the service charge is $9.95. You can place your order to have it delivered within two days or two weeks.
Shop Rite supermarkets offer a Shop Rite From Home shopping and delivery program. Orders under $100 will include a fee 0f $6.95 for delivery, but orders over $100 will receive free delivery. Shop Rite from Home also offers a free shopping service where store employees will do your shopping for you based on your online requests, and if you pick the items up, there's no fee. Coupons can be used both with Pea Pod or Shop Rite from Home. This is a wonderful service for people on the go, or who just detest the whole grocery shopping experience.
Grocery shopping can be fun, and inexpensive if you are willing to put time into it. If not, it can still be a fairly easy process if you are organized, or are willing to have others do the work for you.
If you want to learn to save money at the grocery store, this is one of my favorite books...
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