For most of us, a trip to the grocery store is a hectic experience. We probably haven’t planned more than a few days ahead and we’re in a rush because we’re squeezing it in between work and meeting friends later or picking the kids up from soccer practice–and we’re starving.
Because of this, we tend to shop a bit haphazardly, tossing everything into the cart we think we might need (especially if it’s on sale, because why not, right?) and buying things because they sound good to us right then in our hungry state rather than thinking rationally about it.
Do yourself a favor and cut down on your visits to the grocery store by planning just a little bit more in advance. The benefits will surprise you. Save on gas. Fewer trips back and forth to pick up those items you forgot or just due to a lack of planning in general will save you big bucks at the pump. Just think: if you can cut out one tank of gas per month, that probably adds up to at least around $40. Over a year, that’s a savings of almost $500!
Avoid impulse items you don’t need. The more you’re at the grocery store, the more likely you are to buy food you don’t need. This includes sale items you don’t really need, ingredients you thought were necessary but aren’t and food you buy because it sounds delicious in the store when your belly is growling. Less grocery store time means saving cash and calories in this case.
Use what you already have. Many of us buy food and then forget we have it, so we end up going to the store for more while it sits on our shelves. Do yourself a favor and make it a rule to create a meal from whatever you have at home once a month or so. Not only will you save yourself money from not going to the store, you’ll clear your cupboards of what’s already sitting there–perhaps some of those impulse items that sounded so great when you were shopping? Best yet, you might even learn a new meal or two by being forced to combine things you wouldn’t normally try.
Plan around sales and coupons. I know I’ve advised against buying things just because they are on sale, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid sales. Quite the opposite. With better planning and fewer emergency trips to the store, you can wait for the best sales and coupons to come along and plan your grocery trips around them. You’ll save money by taking fewer trips and on the food itself, so feel free to stock up.
More down time! Most importantly, fewer trips to the grocery store means you’ll have more down time for yourself. Read a book, go on a date, or spend time with your family!
Juliana Weiss-Roessler has ten years of professional writing and editing experience. For four years, she managed the web content for the star of an Emmy-nominated reality series. Currently, she is an editor for the geek girl e-zine PinkRaygun.com, a contributor to the career blog at Resumark.com, and owner of the food blog CookFastLiveYoung.blogspot.com. Follow her @cookfast on Twitter and learn more about her work at WeissRoessler.com.