The Debates can roll on and on as to how to save Money when you are grocery shopping, but if you keep things simple you are sure to keep your bills down, your grocery tour du jour short and food in your cart. The Old School thinking was, shop the Perimeter of the store, to keep all your buying healthy and natural and it would keep you from splurging on the other items that you may not really need or that are a bit less healthy because they are packaged and contain sodium. If you shopped the perimeter of the store your cart would be more full and you would be less apt to purchase items that were higher in fat and price. HOWEVER, After shopping as much as I do, if I can offer any advice it is not to avoid the INNER Parts of the store(middle) but more to embrace the sales, apply coupons when you can and shop at a variance of stores because no store has it all (no not even WALMART- because my die hard WalMart fans are going to disagree, but I am speaking the truth)
Faced daily with questions from my readers on grocery shopping, saving money and questions about HOW to get this all just right I chose to write this article to hopefully help you out.
HOW THINGS ARE CHANGING:
Shopping the perimeter is OLD SCHOOL thinking and while still a great way to get what you need, it may not provide you all the things you need. Let’s face it, I can’t buy rice and cereal on the perimeter of the store it is a middle of the store item! In addition, things are changing, if I stuck to the outside perimeter of the store at Market District for instance, my cart would have every item in it from prepared and hot foods to bakery because their store has those on the outside ‘U’ perimeter. Consume those items over a period of a few weeks and not only will your bill go up considerably but I am guess your waist line won’t be thanking you either.Bottom Dollar includes Frozen Items in it’s line up of the U perimeter and ALDI has baked sweet goods as well as frozens on its U perimeter. Therefore the principles of shopping the perimeter to keep the bill down, the healthiness of foods up and your cart loaded before you get to the inside aisles is kind of shot!
THE 12 WEEK RULE:
How should you go about saving money if you can not just keep it simple? How about just keeping it simple. Every week I search all my Store Handbills that come in and I match them up with the coupons that I have on hand. I stock up on items that are on sale because usually these become pennies on the dollar when matched with coupons and then I have them on hand later! Of course I would never just buy an item because I had a coupon, but certainly this method applies to ITEMS I use frequently but do not wish to pay full retail for and why would you when most products go on sale every 12 weeks! Keep 12 issues of ONE store flyer and see how they rotate their sales, because MOST stores rotate the same items for sale every 12 weeks but they might be worded or featured a bit differently they are still on the 12 week cycle.
Keeping with that prophecy, if you know that it is not going to be on sale again for 12 weeks, and it costs 1/2 of its normal cost, purchase enough of the items to make it through the 12 week course. It was 1/2 off so you paid 1/2 of what you would normally pay and now it is in your home and you do not have to worry about it.
10 for $10 Prophecy
While I publish these sales, they are HARDLY ever you best buy as a matter of fact so many of those items that are marked 10 for $10 can often be found for as little as .89 cents a piece in other stores, take the instant pouch potatoes, yet people buy them at the 10 for $10 price because it seems great at a dollar a bag. The price is really not a great deal so don’t splurge on items that are 10 for $10.
Even the best laid plans of mice and men can be destroyed when shopping, There are IMPULSE BUY TRAPS all over the store and we are drawn to them without even attempting to be. IMPULSE BUYS are those things that look so good you really can’t pass them up(BUT YOU SHOULD).
Things like strawberry glaze, environmentally green reusable bags, items to wash your fruit with, colanders, boxed drinks(that contain artificial fruit flavor) and more, just pass this stuff up. You don’t need the knife that never needs sharpened or the corn picks that are super-sized, or perhaps the shredder that makes the veggies look so FUN after you peel them. Your objective is just need to get through the store getting what you came in for an NOTHING else.
Here is another little piece of trivia for you.. Produce has the highest mark-up(and the highest profit margin) and therefore, stopping in the produce area first will hit your wallet the hardest! You may feel that you have been healthy and wonderful by purchasing produce items so you will buy more, however the stores gain the most by these purchases! Shop this area last.
CASH REGISTER SPLURGES
You managed to pass up the candy aisle now pass up the urge to pack in those expensive purse throws like mints, chocolates and so forth, you know these can be purchased on sale at a local drugstore. Unless you have coupons making these things free or they are on SALE resist the temptation to purchase items you don’t need and by all means don’t let your children make deposits in the cart of items from this IMPULSE area either.
THE CEREAL AISLE
There are so many gadgets that they sell to you in the cereal aisle. First, if you are in this aisle, your cart should already be kind of full and you DO NOT NEED, bowls and spoons that are marked up 300% just because they have a straw attached. You do not need nifty holders that is why sandwich baggies were invented (super frugal and stores anything). Fancy looking coffee mugs do absolutely nothing for your coffee other than make a bigger grocery bill, leave them THERE!
THE STORE BRAND
I am not sure if you recall when I was in a popular grocery store a few months back I snapped a picture of Their Brand Tomato sauce vs. the BRAND itself. Funny little item, the brand manufacturer itself also manufactured the store label, but the store label was $1 more. Store brands are not always less expensive, so BUYER BEWARE!
I do hope that you will save a bit more on your grocery bill, following just some of this methodology. Get Pittsburgh Frugal and save! ~pfm