Friday, May 1, 2009

An Efficient Shopper Saves Money at the Grocery Store

By Alex Pastlin

Saving money at the grocery store can appear daunting at first, but with a few quick tips, anyone can save and shop on a budget.

You should try to not shop for food when you're hungry. If your stomach is growling then you are more likely to be attracted by all that food at the grocery store, even if it's not something you usually care for. Hunger can also make food more attractive against the price. If you are hungry you are likely to be attracted by the warm, filling pictures on the boxes and your stomach will call out for you to buy.

On the other hand, never shop on a full stomach either. If you've just finished a huge meal and you're so stuffed that the mere thought of food makes your stomach churn, it might not be a good idea to be around a lot of it. Like being hungry and trying to shop, you will be biased and you'll more than likely want to turn away from the sight of food instead of comparison-shopping.

Don't shop when you're in a hurry. Unless you have made a short list, know exactly where the items are located and how much they are going to cost when you get them and you already have this planned out ahead of time, shopping when you're pressed for time can sometimes cause you to throw things in the cart without thinking about price.

Before you leave for your shopping trip, go shopping in your own cabinets and refrigerator. You might already have items that can be used to make meals. By utilizing items that you already have, you will stretch your food supply further. If you have food and you don't know what to do with it, try using a recipe website to get some creative ideas.

Plan your meals around what is on sale that week. Pick up a sales paper the day before you go shopping and see what the specials are. Ground beef on sale? Maybe it's time for that spaghetti dinner!

Buy food that can be spread out over several meals. A package of pasta can be used in several different ways: baked pasta, goulash, or a pasta salad. Likewise, a package of chicken breasts can be frozen and used for many different meals as well: served with rice and cream of mushroom soup, tossed with pineapple for a tropical meal, or even cooked in salsa for a spicy Mexican flavor.

Make sure that you allow for something fun in your budget. It's okay to indulge in something, as long as your entire list isn't a treat. Let yourself have one item of weakness, but make sure that it is less than the most expensive thing on your grocery list. If you deprive yourself of something, then you're just going to want it that much more.

It might sound simple, but watch the register as your items are being scanned. The people who work the cash registers are humans, too, and they might not know about all of the sales that are going on. It's wise to watch what is being rung up and to point out any discrepancies. But please, be respectful, too.

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