September 27, 2010 | By: Laurie Campbell

Smart grocery shopping. Food for thought.

Imagine knocking $100 or $200 off your monthly grocery bill. That’s money that will allow you to get caught up on your finances if you’re behind.  Or it’s money that allows you to enjoy other things in life, like a better car, an education fund for your kids, a vacation nest egg or even a retirement fund. We’re talking $1,200 to $2,400 a year here.

If you’re smart about your food and they way you shop for it, the additional cash can be had. You’ve just got to put some grocery shopping savvy into play.  

Here are some tips to help you do just that.

  • Budgeting smarts. The simple rule of money management is that you can’t begin to save if you don’t know what you’re spending. Smart grocery shopping starts with determining how much money is going towards groceries each month. Put your grocery receipts in one envelope for a month and add them up. Remember to extract toiletries and miscellaneous items from the receipts so you see the true picture about your grocery spending. It will likely surprise you.
  • Planning is the key. Plan your meals carefully ahead of time before shopping, keeping in mind you and your family’s likes and dislikes. Also, closely consider the luxury foods you can do without or cut back on. You can realistically cut your grocery spending by 30 percent through simple budgeting and planning. You may be startled to find out how much cash goes toward luxury items and impulse buys at the store.
  • Stick to your list. Before going anywhere near a grocery store, make a list of items you need based on your meal planning and adhere to that list with no fooling around. Above all, avoid impulse buying, which you should already be aware to thanks to what I’ve outlined above.  
  • Never shop when you’re hungry. Eat before you hit the store, lest your stomach takes over from your brain when the smell of the fresh roast chicken from the deli section overcomes you and your pocketbook - or those baked goods bedazzle you. Truth is, temptation makes for weakness in the aisles. Studies show that going to the grocery store hungry can increase food bills by up to 15 per cent thanks to impulse buying.
  • Avoid Convenience Stores. Convenience store prices are often marked up by 60 per cent or higher over grocery store prices. Don’t go there.
  • Get your toiletries elsewhere. Unless you’re shopping at a super discount store like Wal-Mart, it’s probably wise to buy toiletries and miscellaneous items at discounted drug, dollar or smaller discount stores. Generally, grocery stores mark up toiletries 25 percent or higher. Also, check out the loyalty programs at drug store chains, which can include rebate checks and savings for additional purchases.
  • Shop the sales and look for discounts. Through the internet, magazines and newspapers, keep an eye out for sales. And once you’re in the store, look for and ask about specials or browse the store’s discount shelves and baskets.
  • Buy store brands and generic products. Increase you spending power through the purchase of store brands and generic brands. So what if they come with a yellow label? Check the ingredients; you’ll probably find they match the stuff that’s more expensive.
  • Become a coupon junky. Don’t be shy about it. Thumb through magazines and newspapers and clip out the coupons on products you already enjoy. Also, get online and search for downloadable coupons and specials. Your savings can add up fast.
  • Consider shopping in bulk. Significant savings can be had from buying in bulk from the big box discount stores. Just make sure the items you get are the items you really need and want, and that you have the dry space and refrigerator space to house the bulk items. Also, know the shelf and freezer life of the items so you don’t end up throwing stuff out.

Okay, so that’s a little food for thought about grocery shopping. Now, get out there and roll smoothly with a shopping cart that does the same.


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