Top tips for grocery shopping

The grocery store is a big expense for most households, and an ongoing one obviously. It's a place you can easily go over budget, but by being organised and aware, you can trim the fat from your grocery shopping and come home with items you need and will use.

My tips for the grocery store

1/ Write a list. Yes, I know you've heard this one before, but it's true, Unless you have a really great memory and no distractions, it's too easy to forget something you needed to buy. Which means another trip to the store later in the week, more petrol used, another chance to impulse buy etc, etc, yada yada... Now, I'm not a list nazi, as I don't write down staples like bread, milk, butter, yoghurt, things I always get, and I like a bit of room for flexibility, depending on what may be on sale. But it is important, write a list.

2/ Buy some homebrand
/generic products. You may not want to buy everything homebrand, for example, I stay away from the homebrand pastas, but things like homebrand milk, flour and tinned tomatoes are fairly equal in quality to their higher priced counterparts. Some stores even have their own line of organic products, which are definitely cheaper than the branded organics lines.

3/ Shop later at night. I don't do this all the time as it's just not convenient for me, but I've been to the grocery store after 8.30pm, and found whole roast chickens for $3. They usually cost $10-$11, but in an effort to get them out the door before they close, management marks them right down. See if they do that at the grocery store near you.

4/ Food close to expiry date. I was rummaging through the dairy section where a staff member was rearranging things according to their date, and he asked me what I was after. When I told him, he grabbed it off the shelf, checked the date and marked it way had about a week to go. He asked me how many I wanted and marked several down for me. Another time, there was only two of the item I wanted and they were both a few days out from their expiry date. I found a staff member, explained the situation and they marked them both down for me. Now, this works best if you know you will get through whatever it is you bought, or, you have a deep freeze. I have the latter, so I'm always on the lookout for dairy items marked down, as some of them freeze really well. So, check the dates on your items, and don't be afraid to ask.

5/ Find out when items get marked down. This is also to do with expiry dates. A major grocery store near me seems to mark things down on a Tuesday night, so on a Wednesday I have a good look around for things that we use that I can freeze. Find out if your grocery store has a regular schedule for mark downs.

6/ Don't bring the kids. If at all possible, do the grocery shopping without them. Even if you don't give in to pestering, or if you don't get pestered at all, you don't need the distraction when you're trying to compare prices and find date stamps.

7/ Bring your own bags. Not only is it greener to bring reusable bags, some places are starting to charge for them. Keep them in the car so they're always on hand.

8/ Stock up in a sale. If something you use is on sale, for example your particular brand of coffee, buy one even if you don't currently need it. My hubby likes expensive coffee, and I don't like paying full price for it, so if it goes on sale, I buy one. At least one. That way it lasts until the next sale, so I never have to buy one at full price. This is a bit of a no-brainer, it just means don't go round the store with blinkers on, only looking for exactly what you need at that moment.

9/ Check sale catalogues. In Australia, this can be done online. If you have the luxury of having several of the major chains within arms reach, you can spread your buying around, going with whoever has the best deal on the items you need.

10/ Buy mostly whole foods. The more processed it is, the more likely it is that the Government is making you pay more for it by adding tax. Aussie's, look at your grocery receipt. If an item has a * or a % sign next to it, it has GST added to it.


1/ Write a list.
2/ Buy homebrand/generic products.
3/ Shop later at night.
4/ Food close to expiry date.
5/ Find out when items get marked down.
6/ Don't bring the kids.
7/ Bring your own bags.
8/ Stock up in a sale.
9/ Check sale catalogues.
10/ Buy mostly whole foods.

So, those are my tips, I know other people have different ones, but hopefully you can take a few of these and make grocery shopping a less painful time for your wallet. Good luck!

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