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This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Kates Cuisine. Please visit her site for a great selection of recipes and more helpful tips.

Grocery Shopping Tips

We all go into the grocery store with the few basic things we need in mind. But once we get in and see all the wonderfully packaged things and new items, thoughts of our budget all too easily fly out the window. Before you know it, the cart is stocked way too high and you’re left feeling nauseous at the check-out counter. Here are some great tips so that you’ll be just as excited leaving the grocery store as you were going into it!

Before You Go

  • It’s the number one grocery shopping tip – Don’t buy groceries on an empty stomach! You will buy everything in sight and way, way overspend.
  • Always rummage through your pantry, cupboards, and fridge. Along the way, toss out old items and take note of what you already have and what you need; this way you don’t end up buying something that you already have. And, your cupboards will be clean and clear when you get home, making putting away those groceries even easier!
  • Compare the price of buying something to making it yourself. Sometimes making it yourself will save you money but it doesn’t always work out that way, so you’ll need to decide if it’s worth it.
  • Create a price book. This is a book, can be any size, colour, or shape that you want, that lists average prices of items you usually buy. Take the price book with you so that you know if something on sale is actually a good deal.
  • Create your weekly menu by using items that are on sale or that you already have.
  • Buy things that you use a lot of when it is on sale. Chances are, it won’t go on sale again before you need it.
  • Try to shop in larger or bulk stores. Many times you can freeze excess quantities or cook casseroles and freeze them – save yourself time and money!
  • Shopping early in the morning usually generates the best deals. This is because the stores put out clearance bread, milk, meat, etc. in the morning and the early birds scoop up all the deals!
  • Do your shopping by yourself. If kids are with you, you might be distracted and rushed, buying things you don’t need only to forget those you do. And even bringing a friend can take a lot more time and can also cause you to overspend (or still forget what you need!)
  • Check out the local flyer and clip out coupons to take with you before you go. Usually, the best sales will be on the back and front of the flyer.
  • Make a list throughout the week of what you need. Do not buy anything else other than what is on this list!

While Shopping

  • Don’t always buy meat for protein. It’s an excellent source of it but so are eggs, cheese, poultry, peanut butter, beans, and lentils – and they’re cheaper too!
  • Buy whole chickens instead of buying individual pieces. When you get it home, chop it up into legs, thighs, and breasts and freeze these pieces separate from each other. It’s not only cheaper but you get all the bones for a great homemade chicken stock!
  • Hit the sales at different stores. This one you have to be careful with. Make a list of the things you want to buy at each individual store. When you go to that store, BUY ONLY WHAT IS ON YOUR LIST. I guarantee if you go off the list at each store, you’ll go way over budget on groceries!
  • Because brand names pay more for things such as promotions and shelf space, these pricier items are found at eye-level on the shelf. Look to the higher and lower shelves to find the same product, wrapped in a plainer package, and at a much lower price!
  • Grocery stores operate so that their sales are usually in some sort of rotation. It’s not an exact science but if you get to know when certain things go on sale at certain stores, you might be able to get by with waiting until they go on sale to buy them. This can be a big money saver!
  • Get any store-saving cards and points cards that you can. If you’re busy (as we all are) the chances are that you’ll find yourself in one particular store at some point. Getting points or some other kind of reward means that you’re getting more than you pay for!
  • Find out a little bit about fruits and vegetables and when certain things are in season. In-season fruit and veggies will always be cheaper. Plus, it’s fun to grab a kumquat and try and figure out what you’re going to do with it!
  • Always look at expiry dates and pick an item that has the farthest date. You’ll be able to use them longer and you won’t waste money by throwing out a tub of sour cream 3 days after you’ve bought it!
  • Instead of buying pre-sliced vegetables or to avoid your veggies from spoiling soon after you buy it – chop, slice, and dice your veggies when you get home and toss them in a baggie to go in your freezer. They’ll last as long as you need them to, which will save you money! Note:This can only be done if you plan on cooking the vegetables at some point. You cannot freeze vegetables and then eat them raw later.
  • If an advertised item is not in stock when you get to the store, always ask if the store hands out rainchecks. Not only will you still get the sale price when you do get it, but you can also use the time it takes for the store to get the item in stock to collect more coupons for the product – adding more to your savings! More tips