I dread grocery shopping and look forward to it all at the same time. Yes, I suppose I’m complicated. But seriously, I like spending money, filling up the fridge, knowing that my family will have food for the next 7 – 10 days and I will not hear complaints, um, requests from my husband and children that we’re out of this thing or the other.
On the other hand, I almost always overspend.
Many people have great success taking cash with them and calculating every dollar, but I shop with three kids six and under. The incessant chatter itself is enough to knock me off the calculations in my head. So that method, effective as it is, is out.
Here’s what I do: when I enter the store, I go around the “wrong” way. I start my shopping with dairy and meat. That’s it.
I can almost hear you think. How will that change anything, you ask. Oh, but it does, and I have a theory about why.
Here’s what I think happens – when we enter the store, we are immediately bombarded with temptations – these are items that are not on the list but seem like a good deal (they are usually under a dollar, like cans of beans, or fruit under a dollar a pound.) In they go. Then we come to the vegetables and of course we want to make salads, so in they go. I don’t know about you but by the time I get to the meat aisle, I’ve already spent more than I should have on produce.
When I shop meat and dairy before produce, I follow a more normal path of building a meal – I begin with protein, then add vegetables and then the condiments in the center aisles. At the very end is fruit, which we buy for purposes of lunches for my husband and snacks for the kids.
This method of shopping avoids the temptations I face right inside the door, temptations placed strategically to make me spend more. If any of those extras are still on my list, I can find them in the center aisles, where I can compare their prices with other items.
Overall, this one small change can help you save money every grocery trip with no calculator and no agonizing over every dollar.
(And you thought I was going to talk about coupons!)