Grocery shopping is one of the most dreaded chores of a homeowner. The idea of spending an hour in a crowded store battling with old ladies for the last banana, only to then shell out $100 (or more) – is not appealing. Even someone like me, who enjoys grocery shopping, doesn’t find that scene very appealing. So how do I enjoy it? I’ve detailed my five easy steps to making your grocery shopping stress-free, affordable, and maybe even enjoyable (this is not a guarantee, ha).
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Plan It Out
This could mean different things to different people. For me, it means understanding my eating habits, having a list, and planning my shopping route. For others, it means meal and budget plans. Planning before a grocery trip keeps you on track and in budget. If you understand what and how much you will and won’t eat, grocery shopping becomes that much easier. It can be an organized and smooth stroll, rather than a guessing game. It’ll also help to reduce food waste and save you money!
My boyfriend and I eat similar meals each week, so our grocery shopping has a routine. I know what I’m buying, because it’s (mostly) what I bought last week. We keep a list when we’re changing it up. The app ‘Our Groceries’ was a game-changer for us, as you can share one grocery list. As you cross off or add an item to the list, it will do the same across all phones sharing the list – in real time. The ultimate divide and conquer tool.
When and Where
A crowded grocery store leads to stress. Try grocery shopping during off-peak times. Peak times will differ for every location, but for us that means avoiding weekends and around 5pm on weekdays. If you find us at the grocery store on a Saturday or Sunday you can almost guarantee that we’re stressed, annoyed, and frustrated. We tend to go early mornings or Monday evenings because our grocery stores are emptier.
In terms of stores, we always go low cost. Depending on where you live it’ll change, but there’s always a few different types of grocery stores; the high-end-lots-of-frills kind, the middle tier, and the low-cost. We’re low-cost people, it helps us save a lot of money. We go to specialty stores and health food stores rarely for a couple particular items.
What To Buy
There is a way to buy the same amount of groceries and lower your cost. All it takes is some strategic shopping. This means buying frozen vegetables/fruits, in bulk, and non-brand name. Buying in bulk is not always cheaper, just make sure to do the math. It’s great if you need a small amount of something, it may be more expensive per gram, but you produce less waste and only buy what you need. It’s great for one-time purchases. Buying fresh produce is always great, but sometimes not economical. Buying frozen vegetables and fruits is a great alternative; they’re cheaper and frozen at optimal ripeness. My favourite way to save money is steering clear of brand names. When you buy brand-name products, often you’re paying for the name more than the actual product.
Don’t forget to look at the per gram cost. Most grocery stores around us have this on their price tag – it will tell you how much money you are spending per 100 grams. It’s perfect for comparing brands and packaging sizes (believe it or not, but sometimes the bigger packaging isn’t more cost effective!).
Buying a bunch of bananas for the week? Buy in different ripeness, so that they don’t all ripen at once! This is especially crucial for avocados, since they have such a small window where they are perfectly ripe. Nothing is worse than having six avocados ripen all at once.
Have The Right Mindset
You have probably heard people say don’t shop hungry. Honestly, it’s true. When you shop hungry, you impulse buy a lot. I purchase items that can easily be eaten on the way home. Then you have not only spent more money, but you have also ruined your appetite for the dinner you were planning later that day. Can’t say this enough, shop full. If you’re hungry, bring a small snack with you to munch on while you shop. That way you aren’t tempted by the convenience items around the store.
Take your time. This isn’t easy all the time, but if you have extra time, then use it to shop slowly. Don’t shop in a rush and you’ll find yourself stress-free.
Everyone should be looking for ways to be more sustainable in their life. Grocery shopping is great place to start. Look for items that aren’t in packages, stay out of the aisles and shop mostly produce (which is not difficult as a vegan). Bring reusable bags with you every time. If you drive a car, keep some in your trunk so that you are never without them. If you don’t drive, keep them by your front door, you can grab them on your way out. Buy reusable produce bags, or just don’t use produce bags. Personally I don’t know why plastic bags are available in the produce section, I almost never use them. For smaller items that need a produce bag, trying buying some reusable ones online. We love these ones from Amazon. I use mine for mushrooms, limes, and chilies typically.