12 simple things you should do before grocery shopping

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12 simple things you should do before grocery shopping

Grocery shopping probably isn’t your favorite task, but there are things you can do to make it a little less trying, a whole lot cheaper and perhaps even a bit of fun. Here are 12 things you should consider doing to lessen the time and money you spend grocery shopping.

1. Join your favorite store’s loyalty program

Every store has one, and yes, you must give up a little personal information to join, such as your email address. If your privacy is more important than saving money, consider creating a burner email account for this purpose – an account you never check and only use to sign up for loyalty programs. Then get ready to reap the rewards and discounts.

2. Download your favorite store’s app

Again, you’ll likely give up a bit of personal information when you download these apps, but they are an easy way to see the store’s sales and often provide digital coupons on your phone, making saving money that much easier.

3. Look for manufacturer coupons

Whether it’s through your store’s app, a couponing website or the circular that comes in the mail, coupons can save a lot of money on groceries. It’s time well spent to review what coupons may fit your eating habits.

4. Plan your menu…

Going to the grocery store and buying items willy-nilly isn’t an effective approach for eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Nor is it a good way to stay within your budget. Write out your weekly meal plan so you know exactly what you need.

5. ...around discounted items…

And be sure to include some of the sale items you found using your store’s app and manufacturer coupons. You may end up trying new products and save money in the process.

6. ...& items you already have

When planning your menu, don’t forget things already in your pantry or refrigerator, like that leftover spaghetti sauce or those chicken breasts you froze a couple of weeks ago. As the saying goes, waste not, want not.

7. Make a list…

Once you have your menu together, sort out what you need to create your meals. Try to make your list in the order you will find the items at the grocery. For example, if the produce section is the first department, list the fresh fruits and vegetables you will need first. Go section by section until you have all the items you need. This may take a little extra time as you’re preparing, but it will keep you from going back and forth through the store.

8. ...& stick to it

Grocery stores are great at marketing products you likely don’t need but could potentially want. If you want to save money and eat more healthily, avoid buying any extras that aren’t on your list, especially snack foods.

9. Prepare to be flexible

Sale items frequently sell out, so be prepared to make substitutions for your list items. To ensure you get the items you really want, it’s a good idea to...

10. Plan to shop early

Most grocery stores stock their shelves late at night or early in the morning before the store opens. Not only will you have better odds of all your items being in stock if you shop early, you’ll often have the best pick of produce and proteins.

11. Eat before you shop

Just because you’re arriving early doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to eat something. Shopping while hungry can make you spend more than you intended, buying things that are not only not on your list, but more likely not good for you.

12. Make sure you have the right credit card

If you don’t have a rewards credit card that gives you at least 3% cash back on purchases at grocery stores, you could be walking away from a lot of money. Consider this: If you spend $100 a week on groceries, that amounts to more than $150 in cash-back rewards each year at that 3% rate. That’s one-and-a-half weeks of free groceries. And it’s a lot easier than remembering those coupons at checkout because the rewards happen automatically depending on the credit card.

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