Grocerying is a part of life. Everyone needs to eat. However, like all things that you usually do again and again, you will have form certain habits. Poor ones. Here they are, listed below, with steps you can take to rectify them.
- Shopping With An Empty Stomach
- Arriving Unprepared
- You Don’t Know How Much You Can Spend
- Writing Down After You Run Out
- You Rarely Consider Shopping At The Farther Supermarket
- Misreading Labels
- Spending Most Of The Time At The Products Section
- Buying More Than You Need
- Trolley, every time.
- You Think Fresh Is Always Better
- You Don’t Question Health Halos
- You Trust the Price Too Much
- You Only Look For What You Want
- You Don’t Look Everywhere
- You Buy A Lot Of Meat
- Buying Premade Snacks
- Dismissing Store Brands
- Giving In To Your Children
- Bringing Your Children Along
- Visiting The Supermarket Several Times A Week
- Visiting During Peak Hours
- You Think You Are Buying Healthy Cereals
- You Have A Bad Habit Of Buying Junk Food
- You Don’t Utilize Rain Checks
- You Don’t Bring Along The Ad
- Buying Frozen Dinners
- Choosing Your Favourite Fruits And Vegetables
- You Don’t Buy Fish
- You Are Easily Swayed By Darker Color Bread
Entering a supermarket on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. Your hunger often dictates what you buy. This is a bad habit that will make you spend much more on junk or foods that you really do not need.
You’re out. Somehow, you ended up with enough free time to do some grocerying. The supermarket is on the way but you don’t have your list with you. It’s unplanned but convenient. Most of the time you will either buy duplicates of what you already have at home or miss out on certain items. Don’t do it. Plan beforehand and always be prepared.
Keep a list on your fridge, and write things down immediately. When you run out of something, don’t leave it to your memory. Jot it down. Once you get the hang of lists, take it up a notch. Prepare your grocery list by aisle. It’ll prevent you from constantly running back and forth in the store.
Have a budget. When I go to the store, I know exactly how much I can spend. Then I try my best to stick within that limit. If you don’t know how much you can spend, you’ll certainly spend too much.
It’s too late. You should write down when you realize that you’re running low. Don’t wait until you run out. When you see there’s only three toilet paper rolls left, put it on your list.
Consider shopping at more than a store because there’s no store with a monopoly on savings. The only way to truly master the art of savings is to actually write it down. Put into spreadsheets but make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Divide the price by the amount (ounces, pounds, etc.) in order to get the comparable unit price.
Most of us have bought a product by mistake at some point, like the wrong variant of a pack of biscuits or conditioner instead of shampoo. The supermarket may nestle a virgin sunflower oil next to virgin olive oil and before you know it, you would have paid for something you didn’t want. Look carefully and be sure that you are buying what you want before putting it into the trolley.
Usually, the middle of the supermarket is where you will find products. The back and outer perimeter is where essentials like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish are usually located. You can easily get all that you need just by walking the outer perimeter but supermarkets are designed in such a way that they encourage you to look through the products section before arriving at the produce. Beat the system by stocking up on fresh food first before venturing to the middle of the store.
Only take advantage of “buy 1 get one half price” or “2 for $3” if they are fixed consumption items like batteries, toilet tissue, light bulbs, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc. Expandable consumption items, like food, are items that you will most likely use more if there is more lying around. Moreover, some expandable items have a fair chance of being spoiled prior to use.
I usually carry a basket around the supermarket rather than pushing a trolley. The physical weight of food is a good reminder of when I’m buying too much. It might not be suitable for families but try taking a small trolley rather than one of those massive skips on wheels.
While fresh fruit may look the most appealing, nutritionally, it may not always be the best choice. From the moment produce is picked, it’s flavor and nutrients begin deteriorating. And, while refrigeration helps slow bacterial growth which keeps the food safe to eat, some fruits and vegetables may lose half of their nutritional value within 3-5 days. Flash-freezing produce at their peak of freshness, however, retains much more of the vitamins. So, while freshly picked produce is optimal, frozen fruits and vegetables are a nutritionally acceptable option. They are simple and have built in portion control. When using canned fruits or vegetables, avoid those with added sugar, syrup, calorie-loaded creams or excessive salt.
You may not read labels with as critical an eye in a store like Whole Foods compared to Super Target. The atmosphere in Whole Foods Market makes you feel like everything in the store must be healthy. In Target, you’ll look at the calorie count on the same package of granola you buy without thinking in a ‘healthy’ grocery store.
Read every price tag. Many markets have lower prices on staple items like milk, eggs, and toilet rolls so that you come away with the impression that the whole store is cheaper. But they mark up other items by 10% because you’ve already decided you’re getting a better value in that store.
Do consider looking around. Just because it’s something you have been using all this while, doesn’t mean it’s the best. For example, if there is another similar milk priced almost the same as what you always use, try it. Who knows, you may like it better.
Impulse items are stocked at eye level on the shelves. So if you’re hunting for healthy choices, or even a lesser-known organic or all-natural brand, avert your eyes from their natural sightline. A store like Walmart marks down items on the end cap to draw you down the aisle too. Once you are there, they don’t have any reason to give you the best price.
Cut back on meat. Meat is expensive. Moreover eliminating meat like beef, pork, lamb, and poultry one day a week can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease and some cancers. What’s more, cutting down on meat will encourage you to eat more fruits and vegetables instead.
Yes, it’s convenient but it’s a waste of money. Just buy little baggies and buy snacks in bulk. It will just take only a few minutes to pack some snacks for lunch every day.
Brand names are often no better than generic, and you’re paying for all the advertising they do to have a brand name. Give the store brand a try, and often you won’t notice a difference. Cleaning products, dairy products, and cereal are some of the many generic items worth your money.
Kids’ pestering can be quite stressful or even embarrassing if you are on a tight budget and are trying to get in and out of the supermarket quickly. The only way to control your children is by being firm. Use the word ‘NO’ and explain it to them why not. “It’s not in the list” and “Do you have enough money for that?” are fine as well. In any case, keep moving or they will find more things to ask for. No matter what, stay firm. Giving in sets a dangerous precedent in your child’s behavior.
If possible, leave the kids at home. Even if they’re not begging for their favorite goodies, parenting while pushing the cart can drive you to distracted buying, so you miss the best values.
“One item” trips are a waste of gas and you will almost always buy more than that one item. Like the point at the beginning of this post, plan ahead, draw out a weekly menu, shop with a list and you should immensely reduce the frequency of your trips.
Go during slow times. On a working day, obviously, the best time is during working hours of 9-5pm. On a weekend, arrive right as the supermarket opens, usually 7-8am, or either 2 hours before it closes. If it’s early, you get the pick of the lot. If it’s late, you get discounted fresh items, especially bakery items. For most people, it makes for a much less stressful grocery shopping experience and thus results in fewer impulse purchases.
Just because it says and looks healthy, doesn’t mean it is. It pays to check. To be considered healthy, a serving of cereal (about 1 cup) should be 100% whole grain, contain less than 10g of sugar, more than 3g of fiber, and more than 5g of protein. Doesn’t matter if it falls short on protein because you can easily round it out with eggs or yogurt.
Don’t. Junk food not only costs a lot of money for about zero nutrition, but the high amount of fat, sodium and sugar make you fat and kill you. Break your bad habit. Opt for fruits, plain yogurt, 100% whole grain products, make your own sweet potato chips, and drink herbal tea instead. If you want more salt or sugar, add it yourself.
If you see an item on sale that you want but is out of stock, ask for a rain check if it is not mentioned anywhere that it is limited in quantities or is a bonus item. A rain check is a voucher that will allow you to purchase the item at the advertised price after the store has restocked it
Store employees are not always informed of the products which are being promoted in advertisements. Also, if several products are listed, it is unlikely even the most diligent employee will remember all items and all prices. Bringing your copy of flyers and advertisements will help avoid pricing problems at the checkout counter.
These cost way more and are usually much less nutritious.
Your 3 favourite vegetables are carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes. Every time you hit the supermarket, you will most certainly buy more of these 3. It’s a good thing to be eating vegetables but you need to eat a wide variety to better meet your body’s nutritional requirements. No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. Try something new the next time you hit the produce aisle. Make sure you have a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables by the time you check out.
You aren’t sure how to cook fish, prices can be high, or you may not like the bones but you still need to meet your minimum 2 servings per week requirement. The countries that have the highest life expectancy eat lots and lots of fish. The kind that is fatty and high in Omega-3 like salmon and tuna. A Japanese on average eat 150 pounds of fish a year while an American, on average, consume only 15.8 pounds a year. They have also been eating farm raised fish longer than anyone on the planet. Still worried about radiation from Japan’s Fukushima? Read this.
Just because it’s darker doesn’t mean it healthier or tastes nicer. Some refined breads are dark because of molasses, caramel, or other coloring. Go straight to the ingredients label to choose breads that identify as 100% whole wheat or other whole grain, such as barley or oats, as the first ingredient. Be sure it contains at least 2g of fiber per slice. Mix it up and try making sandwiches with different kinds of bread/wrap.