Here are five tips to keep in mind before you go grocery/market shopping (or shoe shopping for that matter!)
Make a list. Even if you are not the list-making type, at the very least jot down the major essentials. A simple tally does double duty to simplify your trip and prevent impulse purchases. Use your smart phone and never worry about forgetting your list!
Don’t arrive hungry. Or super emo for that matter. Even if you are down to bare cupboards, eat something before heading to the store. This will nix impulse buys and keep you powering through (despite that long ass line at Trader Joe’s). In a pinch, grab a piece of fruit to munch from the produce section (but be sure to pay for it at the checkout!)
Shop the perimeter. (Obvi for any farmers market this doesn’t apply.) This might be the #1 trick for anyone who wants to stick to a budget and eat healthy. Think about it: most of the inexpensive, good-for-you stuff is located in the refrigerated section (fruits + veggies, lean protein, low-fat dairy). Venture in “the middle” occasionally for pantry staples like olive oil, whole-grain pasta, beans and nuts.
Be wary of sales. I love a good sale as much as the next person, but sometimes not all sales save you money. Like a little black dress on clearance, pay attention to discounts on items you buy frequently. A 10 for $10 special on boxes of your favorite whole wheat couscous is a steal, but a similar sale on, say, perishable hummus will not save you money in the end. Don’t treat the grocery store like a sample sale!
Shop like your grandmother. Or your great-grandmother, for that matter. Back in the good ol’ days before fruit roll-ups and blue-box mac n’ cheese, people bought…food. Local apples, fresh lettuce, farm-raised eggs – real, whole foods instead of overly packaged or processed junk. Think whole fruit instead of juice, plain oatmeal instead of sugary cereal and fresh organic meat instead of pre-cooked packaged. It’s better for your wallet and your waistline.
Stamped like a badass shopper. Word.