Grocery stores and food brands understand how the average person likes to shop. Besides manufacturer placement and easy prepackaged foods, grocery aisles are full of psychological traps and seemingly good deals. Although this can make for a pleasant customer experience, the effects on a shopper’s wallet can be less than frugal. If your goal is to spend less on groceries, consider the following traps and tips on your next trip:
1 – Prepare with a meal plan
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Before you go shopping, check out your grocery store’s deals and coupons for the week. Plan your meals around these items and buy in bulk if it fits your budget. Also, keep in mind what you already have when making a list. This will help you stay organized and purchase only what you need for the week.
2 – Avoid eye-level buys
When in a grocery aisle, where do your eyes generally gravitate? If you said straight ahead, you’re like most shoppers. Manufactures realize this and pay for shelving placement. This shelving real estate causes the price to increase and as a result shoppers are spending more. Next time, make a conscience effort to avoid eye level foods all together.
3 – Use a calculator
If you’re really trying to hunker down and save, set a maximum budget and bring a calculator to the store. Get only what you really need and stay on track. Most phones have built in calculators that can help. Just make sure to remember to include your state’s sales tax!
4 – The eternal battle: Generic vs. Brand
Name brands are generally more expensive because they have paid for your awareness through advertising. Most of the time generic brands are exactly the same, just different packaging. Try opting in for generic when possible.
5 – Buy what’s in season
Buying in-season produce pays off with big savings. Buy in bulk and freeze what you need so you can enjoy them during the off-season. Enjoy this produce cycle guide.
6 – Avoid Endcaps
Just like eye level products, manufactures want grocery stores to feature their items at the end and front of aisles, making it a visibly featured product. Stray away from the impulse and temptation by sticking to what is on your list.
7 – Save on meat
Buying bigger pieces of meat can actually save you money. For example: steak that is pre-cut for stews or stir-fry’s can be marked up 300% in some cases. Instead, buy the big piece of meat and ask the butcher to cut it up for free. Also, avoid buying meat that has skin and bones. Meat is priced by weight – so the less it weighs the cheaper it is.
8 – Stock up on favorites when they’re on sale
If items that you regularly purchase are on sale for a great price, stock up! This is a great practice especially for dry storage foods.
9 – Avoid impulse purchases
I know those Reese’s at checkout look tasty, but you didn’t come to the grocery store for candy. It’s okay to treat yourself every now and then, but if you have a budgeting goal, stick to it and avoid those impulse register purchases.
10 – Avoid prepackaged foods
Don’t pay for someone else’s pre-made portion sizes. When buying fruit, buy the entire watermelon instead of the pre sliced package. Instead of getting already bagged deli meat, order it straight from the counter. Same goes for vegetables in the freezer section. You can usually save money by purchasing the vegetables in bulk and freezing them until you are ready to cook them.