When I started working in the retail grocery industry 15 years ago, the average order that came through the register for a regular sized family (4 people, average) was about $150. Today, that average trip cost has changed considerably. Access to stores, a busier lifestyle for most, and an increase in the products available to the public have changed how and why we shop. The days of weekly shopping trips has changed. There are more people who shop on the fly than those that stock up. The average order that I see know if roughly around $200-$300 for a large order (this being a vacation sized order, or a multi-day order).

So, here are a few tips to keep those costs down:

1.       Avoid the impulse shop. Those frequent trips to the store add up. An average shop for a family of four (my family being the example) is around $40-$50 depending on the amount of fresh items and ingredients. This adds up when you do it everyday. Which leads me to…

2.       Make a plan. This has been the hardest thing for me to do, but I’ve found that if I don’t I am going to blow the budget to smithereens! I check the schedules for the week and all the activities and plan accordingly. If I purchase and something comes up I can always call the sandwich shop, but by planning I have a great idea of what I have on hand and what I’m going to need going forward. And that means you need to…

3.       Make a list of what you have and buy staples in bulk. These can be planned and bought for the month ahead. You know you are going to need t-paper and cat food. Might as well go ahead and buy the big packages and get the savings for it. I bought a package of 12 triple rolls of t-paper in a nice soft brand for $7. The store brand is around $3 for a 4-pack. Big savings by thinking ahead. When it comes Fall and I start to think about the holidays I pick up extra flour and watch for sales on the staples early so I don’t have shell out holiday pricing.

4.       Recognize that they are out to sell you a bunch of stuff you didn’t know you needed. If you ask the average customer if they found everything they needed they will usually tell you that they found it and then some. They went for those impulse purchases. You know the rules… don’t grocery shop hungry, avoid distractions, and check the deals. This is going to save you tons. Do you really need that box of cookies when you can go home and make your own that are even better?

5.       The layout of stores is engineered to make you spend money. The outer perimeter of most grocery stores are the high-risk-for-your-budget areas. I’m not saying to avoid these areas. These are by far a much healthier option than processed foods, but be selective. These are the fresh departments. Usually the first one is produce, offering up all those delectable fruits and veggies. Sales will be found on a front table, ready to pull you in with a colorful display, but the staples are usually along the walls. The basics needed for multiple recipes. Peppers, onions, cabbage, etc. The same could be said for the bakery and deli. Remember, these are items that are specifically placed to catch your attention and market to those comfort food cravings. Meat department will probably be the largest portion of your budget. I’m going to offer more tips later in another article about getting the most out of it, but for now you should tailor menu ideas to what the weekly sales are. These will be your best buys. And of course, dairy… including ice cream… need I say more on that?

BONUS TIP: Grocery retailers are reaching for that market share daily. Check out their websites, Facebook pages and Twitters for valuable coupons. Retailers like Target change the coupon offering frequently. It pays to check back often.

These are not even close to all of the tips I can offer. I’ll be posting more as we go on, but just keep in mind that the more prepared you are when you go into the store, the better your budget will fare. Happy shopping!

1 comment:

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