Gro­cery Shop Like a Pro

Smart shop­ping helps you eat health­ier and save money. Here’s how to avoid crowds, find the best food and cut costs.

Simple & Delicious - - CONTENTS -

Top tips for sav­ing time and money.

The gro­cery store takes away a big chunk of your pay­check— and de­ter­mines the fate of your weeknight din­ners. Whether you’re pick­ing up just a few things or stock­ing up for the week, there are plenty of sim­ple ways to save time and money while at the gro­cery store. Th­ese in­sider tips will help your shop­ping go smoothly.

Skip Sun­day After­noons

With shop­pers com­ing home from church, party hosts get­ting ready for the big game and pro­cras­ti­na­tors hit­ting the store be­fore the week­end is over, Sun­days are one of the most crowded times at gro­cery stores. Do­ing ma­jor shop­ping dur­ing peak hours could cause ma­jor stress; you’ll need to fight the crowds, en­dure long lines and have to browse picked-over pro­duce bins. When to go in­stead? Ba­si­cally, any other time. Off-hours are typ­i­cally first thing in the morn­ing, late in the evening and dur­ing the week, so plan your shop­ping time ac­cord­ingly to save time and pick up the best goods.

Al­ways Shop with a List

You think you’ll re­mem­ber ev­ery item you need once you’re brows­ing the store, but in the hus­tle and bus­tle of shop­ping there’s bound to be some­thing you for­get. Be­fore leav­ing home, check the pantry and make sure you have things like olive oil, pasta and other sta­ples you might not buy weekly. Sketch out a few din­ner ideas so you know what to buy and can cook on the fly af­ter work. Plus, mak­ing a list be­fore­hand lets you move more ef­fi­ciently through the store. (Pro tip: If you or­ga­nize your list by prod­uct type, group­ing all dairy items, for ex­am­ple, it’s a breeze to pick up ev­ery­thing you need as you work through the aisles.)

Never Shop Hun­gry

On top of mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to con­cen­trate, be­ing hun­gry while gro­cery shop­ping can po­ten­tially cause you to spend more. Re­search has proven that shop­ping for food on an empty stom­ach is a pricey risk. Hun­gry shop­pers might buy items they don’t need or fill their carts with un­healthy snacks. In­stead, try to shop right af­ter meals or take along a healthy snack to en­joy and to help you re­sist temp­ta­tion.

Take from the Back of the Shelf

Pro­duce and re­frig­er­ated-item stock­ers follow a first-in, firstout or­ga­ni­za­tion, stock­ing new in­ven­tory be­hind the older in­ven­tory. For many items, such as pack­aged or frozen foods, ex­pi­ra­tion dates are far off. But for dairy, pro­duce, eggs and other fresh foods, it’s worth reach­ing to the back to grab the item with the most dis­tant ex­pi­ra­tion date.

Price Com­pare Be­yond Sales

It’s hard some­times not to pick up an item when it’s la­beled with a brightly col­ored SALE sticker, but you should al­ways look at other items and prices. Just be­cause an item is on sale doesn’t mean it’s the cheap­est op­tion. Look around on the shelf and com­pare prices. Check for store-brand prod­ucts, of­ten the most af­ford­able choice avail­able. Your best bet is to check the item’s price per ounce as listed on its shelv­ing la­bel to de­ter­mine the real cost. You may be sur­prised at what’s least ex­pen­sive.

Steer Clear of Mid­day Shop­ping

If you’re look­ing to buy the fresh­est fruits and veg­gies, time your shop­ping trip to co­in­cide with de­liv­er­ies. Ship­ments of pro­duce of­ten ar­rive at lo­cal gro­cers in the morn­ing as the store opens or later in the evening as the store pre­pares to close. So if you want the new­est pro­duce or a wider se­lec­tion in the store, find out when your store’s ship­ments ar­rive and choose those times to shop for the fresh­est pro­duce.

Grab Meat and Dairy Items Last

When you plan a longer shop­ping trip, you need to con­sider what items could lose their cool. On lengthy shop­ping trips, be­gin in the pro­duce sec­tion and end in the dairy or meat aisles, as those prod­ucts can spoil if left un­chilled for too long. Un­load and re­frig­er­ate keep-cold items first when you get home.

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