Grocery Shopping Guide

Grocery shopping guide image.

Grocery shopping isn’t a new concept—it’s actually one that’s been around for longer than any of us can remember.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s an unchanging one.  There are tons of purchasing innovations in the “grocery shopping” world, today, and we’ve got the guide to navigating the best deals, how to buy local, and general money-saving tips to make your next trip to the super market a great one.

Grocery Shopping Tip #1: Buying Local

Buying local is one of the latest crazes in shopping for goods these days, but it’s also one that many may not understand.  “Buying local” refers to purchasing locally grown, locally produced, hand baked or locally baked, and locally created goods instead of buying the ones that are imported or mass produced and stocked on grocery store shelves.

Buying local means choosing goods in local stores that have been made in your local area or region, choosing stores that stock only locally grown or locally produced goods, or going to a local market for your goods instead of visiting a chain store.

Why buy local?  We’re glad you asked, because there are many reasons that buying local is a very good thing.  Buying local goods stimulates your local economy by helping out the businesses and workers right in your area.

Local goods and produce come from local farms and nearby bakeries, and purchasing from those establishments encourages their business growth.  Many times, these local groups will provide you with organically-grown and pesticide-free produce and goods, which is a major eco-friendly plus to buying local.

In addition to organically-grown and pesticide-free goods, buying local reduces the gas necessary to transport goods to a supermarket—which reduces carbon emissions—another environmentally-friendly upside!

Grocery Shopping Tip #2: Saving Money

Many of our groceries are essential to life—you know, like food, medicine, cooking supplies, liquids, vitamins, and hygiene products, just to name a few—and we know we have to purchase them.  What we don’t have to do is purchase them at full cost.  Here are some good money saving tips to practice the next time you go grocery shopping.

  • Forget about brand loyalty. Purchasing a name brand product at full price when the generic brand is two dollars cheaper is a waste of money.
  • Read your labels.  Often times in most processed goods, and even commonly in medical and hygiene products, generic goods will say “compare to [insert name brand here],” and will have almost exactly the same ingredients…for a much reduced price.
  • Purchase only what you absolutely need.  Make a grocery shopping list of what you need to get before you leave for the grocery store, and stick to that list.  Don’t do the grabbing-whatever-looks-good-off-the-shelf-as-you-pass-it thing, because more often than not those items are already on your shelf at home.
  • Shop sales.  Most grocery stores have a pretty little in-store flyer at the door explaining the current sales in the store.  If you see something you will need soon—like toilet paper and toothpaste, or items that can be frozen—purchase it while it’s on sale instead of at full price in a week or two.
  • Use what you purchase.  Don’t let that perishable fresh fruit or those fresh veggies rot in the back of the fridge—make sure you use whatever you purchase!  This goes along with buying only what you need.  Having too much of something or re-stocking on perishable items too soon may mean they go bad before you can use them.
  • Use coupons. Almost every newspaper has a coupon insert, so make use of it!  Coupons for even the smallest amounts add up and are a great way to save money on everyday items.  Clip out coupons for whatever you or your family needs, and save some extra cash.
  • Become a member.  Many chains of grocery stores now have “membership cards” or “rewards cards” that offer participants lowered prices on goods throughout the store.  There is usually no cost to become a member, just a membership application to fill out.  Ask your local grocery store clerk if the store offers such a program!

Grocery Shopping Tip #3: Where to Find Coupons

Couponing has actually become a very widely-known hobby in American culture.  If using coupons to save money on your next grocery shopping trip has you intrigued, check out a few of these great places to find coupons:

  • Coupon insert in your local newspaper, usually on weekends
  • At your local grocery store on some items that are currently on special.
  • On your local grocery store’s website—some stores even have “rewards cards” or “membership cards” onto which you can load your coupons electronically…saving you the hassle of having to carry around a giant stack.  The card is swiped when you check out, and the coupons are automatically used!
  • Brand websites—some offer printable coupons for certain goods that can be redeemed in local grocery stores as long as they have a scan-able barcode

Grocery Shopping Tip #4: Be Smart When Placing Your Goods in the Cart

This one’s pretty easy:

  • When you’re grocery shopping, pick out your dry, warm products first and save your wet, frozen items for last.  The longer frozen or cold items have to get warm, the more you risk those items going bad or melting all over your other foods.
  • Put heavy items—like boxes with cans of drinks, hefty produce items such as potatoes, or bottles of juice and cartons of milk—beneath softer, lighter or more breakable items such as bread, fruits, vegetables, or eggs.
  • Most importantly, unpack your groceries as soon as you get back from shopping to avoid melting, smashing, or other unwanted aspects of the grocery bagging process.

If you’re not a fan of the paper or plastic bags available at grocery stores, most stores now offer reusable, eco-friendly bags for your grocery carting needs.  Some are even designed to keep cold items cold for a longer period of time.  These bags are usually available by request if they aren’t readily visible in a display near the grocery store checkout, and can be purchased for relatively cheap.

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