[Photo via Green Wedding Shoes]
You’re probably raising your eyebrow right now as you’re reading the title of this blog post. I promise you that you’ll find the following tips and tricks on mastering the art of grocery shopping useful!
Today, I want to talk to you about doing groceries because it’s more than just buying food, and it’s not as easy as you think it is. Mastering the art of grocery shopping is about learning what to buy, where, when and how much.
At the beginning of my marriage, I just went to the closest grocery store without planning and simply bought whatever I felt like eating. Sometimes, I bought products that were on sale simply because there were on sale. I mean, you can’t miss out on a sale, right? That’s what I told myself. I also bought products that came in family packs thinking that I was saving money and that I got more for what I paid. At the end of my shopping trip, I ended up with a bill close to $100 – and half of the food I bought ended up in the garbage because they would expired. Moral of the story? You need a plan/strategy before hitting the grocery store.
I’ve learned with experience that there can be a better way to do groceries that saves you time and money. And today, I’d like to share with you five tips on how to do just that!
1. Plan your week in advance
One of the reasons why Timon and I wasted a lot of the food that we bought and made was because we didn’t plan our week in advance. When I cook, I try to prepare enough food for two days so that I don’t have to cook every day (it gets tiring after a long day of work!). But sometimes we ended up eating out 2-3 times a week and the food that I prepared ended up going to waste.
Now, what I do is I plan in advance the number of times that I don’t need to cook during the week. That gives me an idea of how much food I need to prepare, thus avoiding waste.
2. Look for sales before hitting the grocery store
How often do you look at flyers before heading to the grocery store? If you’re like me, the answer is “rarely”. I don’t like looking at flyers because they come in a pack and after flipping many papers, my fingers get dirty. I know it’s not a big deal (I can just go wash my fingers), but I just don’t like being unable to do other things, because my fingers are dirty from the papers. I also get overwhelmed with all the flyers and publicity.
Fortunately for me, Timon found a FREE app which shows all the latest flyers around the area where I live. The app is great because I get to see all the deals in one place. I look at the flyers and choose the store that offers the best quality product at the best discounted price. That saves me time and also money. Once I get to the store, I already know what I want to purchase, and I don’t waste time looking around. With the app, you can also create shopping lists, which is really helpful. With a shopping list, I know what I need to buy and won’t be tempted to spend on products that I don’t need (that are not on my list).
3. Don’t buy in big quantities if you don’t need to
It’s true that buying in big quantities could save you money, but is it always the case? For me, it’s not. To put you in context, Timon and I used to buy the three bags of milk (pack of 4L) because it’s cheaper overall than buying a single carton. This 4L pack normally costs around $7, including taxes, whereas a 1L carton would cost approximately $3.50. Problem is, Timon is the only one between the two of us who drinks milk. I only use milk for my coffee and when I bake, which is really rare. Therefore, we usually ended up throwing two bags of milk because they would expire. To me, it also feels like I’m throwing away money. Nowadays, I buy the carton of milk which costs me more per liter, but I know we’ll finish the milk and it won’t go to waste. The same thing applies to bread, other dairies, and fruits and vegetables.
However, I purchase non-perishable products in bulk, such as uncooked pasta and condiments because they cost less.
4. Spend more on what you eat more and less on what you eat less
Ever since I got married, I’ve become more health conscious and I’ve realized eating healthy is not rocket science. It’s quite simple; it starts with good quality raw produce.
Timon and I eat a lot of chicken. Before, I didn’t care much about where the chicken comes from, but now, as I become more and more aware of mass-production, I spend a little more on better quality chicken – those that are free-range and/or fed with grains. I don’t go as far as buying only organic food (it can get expensive!), but I’m willing to spend more on food that I often eat or ingredients that I often use such as salt and sugar. In fact, I just recently started cooking with sea salt, and I’m looking to include more raw cane sugar in my cooking.
Also, since Timon and I often eat Asian food (a lot of stir fry), I alternate between coconut oil and vegetable oil. For Western food, I opt for olive oil.
For cereals, bread, and snacks such as cookies and chips, I don’t typically spend a lot of money, because we rarely include them in our diet.
All that being said, when grocery shopping, I decide in advance what kind of food I want to purchase; if I need to buy more meat, I’d go to the store that offers the best quality of meat at the greatest discount price (e.g. Metro, IGA, Loblaws and Fruits & Légumes) and will pay more for it. However, if I need to buy condiments or fast food, I’d choose a cheaper grocery store like Super C, Wal-Mart and Maxi.
In case you’re wondering, I normally don’t shop at Costco, except when I host a big dinner party and need to buy large quantity of food.
So, what do you think? Does that make any sense to you? If you like grocery shopping and you’re a pro at it, please share your tips and tricks by commenting below! I read every single comment and will take into account all the recommendations. 🙂
photo by Julio Fonyat of Fonyat Photography via Green Wedding Shoes