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Smart food shopping in training
More than half of all grocery purchases are unplanned! No wonder creating and sticking to a list can bring down grocery costs.
Make a list — and stick to it.
This is the cardinal rule of shopping. The list represents your grocery needs: When you stray from the list, you’re buying on impulse, and that’s how shopping trips get out of control. Sure, a magazine only costs $5, but if you spend an extra $5 every time you make a trip to the supermarket, you waste a lot of money.
Compare unit pricing.
The biggest package isn’t always the most cost-effective. Stores know that consumers want to buy in bulk, and so they mix it up: sometimes the bulk item is cheaper, sometimes it’s more expensive. Compare the FAMILY pack volume to the regular pack , are you really getting more for the money?
Don’t examine things you don’t need.
The more you interact with something, the more likely you are to buy it, says Paco Underhill in Why We Buy: “Virtually all unplanned purchases…come as a result of the shopper seeing, touching, smelling, or tasting something that promises pleasure, if not total fulfillment.” Do you know why grocery stores place those displays in the aisles? To intentionally block traffic. They want to force you to stop, if only for a moment. It only takes a few seconds to stare at the cookie pile to convince you to buy them. Stay focused.
Discard brand loyalties.
Be willing to experiment. You may have a favorite brand of diced tomatoes, for example, but does it really matter? Go with what’s on sale for the lowest unit price. You may find you like the less expensive product just as well. If you try a cheaper brand and are disappointed, it’s okay to return to your regular brand.
Better yet, try the store brand. Generic and store brand products are cheaper than their name-brand equivalents and are usually of similar quality. But do you know why you’re reluctant to try generics? The power of marketing. Most generics have unappealing packaging. If they cost less and taste the same, who cares?
Use coupons wisely.
Coupons really can save you money. But you have to know how to use them. Clip coupons only the things you need — staple foods and ingredients — not for processed junk food. Learn to use special coupons.
Make one large trip instead of several small ones.
Each time you enter the grocery store is another chance to spend. By reducing the frequency of your trips, you’re not only avoiding temptation, but you’re also saving money on overhead (time and fuel).
Check your receipt.
If you are not like me , pay attention to the person at the cashier making sure they don’t scan your item twice.
In Why We Buy, the author notes that people tend to buy more when shopping in groups than when shopping alone. “But men are especially suggestible to the entreaties of children as well as eye-catching displays.” Kris complains that we always spend more on food when we shop together. She’s right. If possible, shop alone.
Shop on a full stomach.
Studies show that folks who shop when they’re hungry buy more. This is certainly true for me: If I go to the store for milk on a Sunday morning without eating breakfast, I’m likely to come home with donuts and orange juice and Lucky Charms, too.