10 Tips to Grocery Shop Like a Pro
Ready to kick your grocery shopping game up a notch?
You wander into the grocery store with a rumbling stomach and fill your cart with everything in sight. You weave in and out of the hordes of people, wondering if there’s an apocalypse you don’t know about. You finally make it to the register… and drop $150. I’ve been there, done that. It has taken me a couple of years (and a lot of trips) to nail down the most efficient grocery shopping practices.
Learn from my mistakes with these 10 tips and you’ll go from amateur to professional in no time.
Check out store deals.
It’s 2019, so you’re probably not studying the grocery store ads in the Sunday paper. (I don’t even know anyone who still gets a Sunday paper, TBH.) Luckily, stores like Kroger, Publix, Walmart, Target (and more) have their own apps. Download them to check out sales and coupons. You can also sign up for store cards or rewards programs to get the most bang for your buck.
Plan your meals.
Now’s the time to hit up Pinterest, your mom, or even that cookbook collecting dust on top of the fridge. Figure out how many meals you’ll be home for, and then decide what you’re feeling for the week. If you’re pinching pennies, use the weekly ads and coupons to plan your meals. For example, if chicken breasts and broccoli are on sale, I know what I’m having for dinner this week.
Create a budget.
I used to wander into the grocery store without a budget and always ended up spending more than I could really afford. If you know you only have $60 left to spend this month and it’s the 20th, be realistic about what you can use for groceries. Don’t pop in for three things and spend $50. Speaking of only needing three things...
4. Make a list.
Your best bet to keep costs down, reduce food waste, and make health-conscious choices? Making — and sticking to — a list. I organize mine by section of the store so I don’t miss anything. I hit the produce section first, so produce is at the top of my list, followed by meat, dairy… you get the idea.
5. Only buy what you’ll actually eat.
Hate celery, repulsed by grapefruit, and won’t touch ground beef with a ten-foot pole? Don’t buy them — simple as that. The chances your tastebuds will change halfway through the week are slim.
6. Stick to the perimeter of the store.
The outskirts of most stores are home to less-processed items like fruits, veggies, meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy. I typically fill my cart using an 80:20 guideline: 80% products from the perimeter and 20% packaged items from interior aisles.
7. Consider the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15."
Ever heard of the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15?” They’re lists of the fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues. Since buying organic isn’t always the most economical choice, they help you evaluate which items you may want to buy organic versus conventional. Overall, the lists can be helpful resources if you want to reduce your pesticide exposure without breaking the bank.
8. Don’t fear store brand.
This isn’t middle school — no one’s judging you if your Uggs are fake. Odds are, you won’t notice the difference between name brand Cheerios and the knockoff store brand. As long as you still feel good about the ingredients, fill your cart with store brand alternatives to cut a few dollars off your bill.
9. Avoid Sunday afternoons.
If you enjoy running into your ex-boyfriend, yoga instructor, and Mrs. Leath at Kroger, then by all means, shop on Sunday afternoons. If that sounds less than ideal, aim to make your trips early in the morning, late at night, or mid-day on weekdays.
10. Eat before you go.
Checkout aisle candy and other off-the-list snacks tend to weasel their way into your cart when you’re hungry. Eat a meal before you head out, or, if you’re short on time, grab a granola bar on your way out the door to snack on while you shop.
What are your secrets to mastering the grocery store? Let us know on social media @AuburnCampusRec.
Happy shopping, and
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Anna B.