The grocery store harbors all sorts of budget-busting traps, from premade meal kits to fancy coffee creamers. You grab a few over-priced goodies in each aisle and before you know it, you've topped your spending limit and then some. Navigating the aisles of the supermarket without going over budget takes planning long before you saunter through the doors. A little willpower in place to avoid your favorite treats doesn't hurt, either.
Go in with a Plan
Walking into the supermarket without a shopping plan almost guarantees overspending. A grocery list keeps you on track and helps you avoid grabbing random food items. If you plan out your meals and shop accordingly, you'll have the necessary ingredients on hand so you won't need to make extra trips to the store later in the week. The store's grocery ad is a useful planning resource, giving you an idea of the most affordable food options for the week.
Stick to the Perimeter
The perimeter of most grocery stores contains whole foods, including dairy, produce and meat. These items are more affordable than their highly-processed counterparts that are usually stored on shelves in the interior of the store. Stay along the perimeter of the store as much as possible to buy whole ingredients to make meals from scratch. A totally homemade meal is not only cheaper, but healthier, and a way to show off your cooking skills to your significant other.
It takes a little work, but tracking prices of your favorite grocery items helps you save money. A small notebook -- or smartphone notebook app -- that you can take to the store works well for tracking purposes. Record the usual prices for all of your normal grocery purchase. Add another column for the lowest price you see on those same items. When you shop, refer to your notebook to determine if the current prices are a good deal. For example, your favorite cereal might be on sale for $2.75. It could be a good time to stock up, but upon reviewing your book, you find that it sometimes goes on sale for $2.25. This tells you that you should hold out for a better deal before stocking up too much.
This method also helps you remember which stores have the best deals on your favorite groceries. Record the prices of your grocery staples at the different supermarkets you frequent. A glance in the book reminds you where to purchase different food items if you want the lowest price.
You know coupons save you money if you use them on items you would normally buy. The timing of coupon use allows you to maximize the savings. Use coupons when the item is on sale for an even lower price. You can also use the coupons on clearance items, so check out your grocery store's discounted food area. Many supermarkets offer their own store coupons for certain items. The store might allow you to use both a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon on the same item for even greater savings, especially if the item is also on sale. Ask the cashier or service desk before you check out if you have questions about the coupon policy.
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