Odds are, your weekly routine involves at least one trip to the grocery store. Whether or not you look forward to these trips, you probably rely on your local Sprouts, Kroger, Publix, or Safeway to keep your family well-fed and your home stocked with paper towels, toilet paper, and other household goods. And even if you’re visiting a store you shop at week after week, you may constantly be surprised to see how much time – and money – your trips to the grocery store consume. It isn’t hard to lose track of the contents of your cart or the time you’re spending wandering from aisle to aisle.
Tired of getting bogged down at the grocery store? Here are five rules I follow to save time and money on groceries each week:
Rule #1: MAKE A LIST.
I won’t step into the grocery store without a list of things I need to buy. It’s too easy to get distracted and find myself loading up the cart with stuff I really don’t need. Instead, I make a point to do a little prep work before I shop and make a list of the things we’re running low on in my home. Organizing my list by section of the store helps me streamline my shopping trip, and writing everything down helps me ensure I don’t forget anything I need for the week ahead.
Rule #2: SHOP THE PERIMETER (as much as possible).
Almost every single grocery store is designed the same way. You’ll find dairy products, meat and seafood, and fruits and veggies on the outside walls, and all of the processed, sugar-filled food packed into the aisles. Don’t waste your time meandering down every single aisle – you’re almost guaranteed to walk out of the store with things you shouldn’t buy. Instead, to cut time and save on stuff you don’t actually need, do a lap around the outside of the store first, then determine what you need to find in the aisles.
Rule #3: CHECK FOR DEALS.
If you want to save money, you need to spend a little time each week scoping out the best deals. Many grocery stores put out weekly advertisements to highlight what’s on special, and some even offer additional coupons and discounts through their app. Dedicate a few minutes to reviewing the ads and make a note of the things that are on sale, and you’ll be amazed to see how much money you can shave off of your grocery bill.
Rule #4: SHOP DURING OFF-HOURS.
An easy way to save time at the grocery store is to avoid making your weekly trip during their busiest times. Many people tackle their grocery shopping on the weekends or run in for a few things on the way home from work, so try to steer clear during those times. Instead, try to shop during off hours. With fewer people in the store, you’ll be able to take care of your shopping much more quickly and with far less stress.
Rule #5: DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PICK-UP OR DELIVERY OPTIONS.
Grocery shopping is changing with the rollout of Instacart, Amazon Fresh, and other shopping services. Some grocery stores offer a pick-up service that allows you to place your order online and swing by when you’re ready to collect your items. Others have taken things a step further with full-blown door-to-door delivery. I’ve tried out a few different services at this point, and each one has offered significant savings on my initial order. Even if you don’t plan to switch your shopping method permanently, it’s a great way to save both time and money on your groceries.
By following these rules, I’ve managed to save a ton of time and money on my weekly groceries, and I hope they’ll help you too.