Grocery Shopping (Pt. 1): First time tips!

grocery shopping
Going grocery shopping for the first time and overwhelmed by all of the options and prices and packaging? Living on your own and tackling tasks like this are the first steps towards full-on adulthood.

Put that ramen down!! Look, I've been there myself. Ramen is cheap and you get a ton, but there are so many other great foods and snacks you can get for a low price.

In this article, I'm going to help you explore some basics and tips for grocery shopping that will keep your bill down but give you more variety than "chicken," "beef" or "vegetable"...

grocery shopping

Grocery Shopping 101

So you've moved out and are slowly running out of the food that you were lucky enough to shop from your family's pantry. Or you're on your own and need to figure out where to start. Let's first go through some of the basics that I've learned while grocery shopping since moving out:

  1. Make a list and check it twice. Seriously, you'll forget half of the things you actually need and will end up buying doubles of stuff you already have. Shopping according to a list will save you both money and time. I use the app AnyList on my phone for food shopping because you can share the list with a roommate or significant other and can make notes on the individual items.
  2. Plan recipes ahead of time. Instead of making one arbitrary list of food items, plan out some recipes for the week and only shop for those ingredients. What this does is saves on food waste and unnecessary purchases by ensuring that you actually use what you buy. Not sure where to look for recipes? Check out Yummly or Pinterest for quick and easy ideas.
  3. Never shop for food on an empty stomach. Literally everything you pass will look delicious and you'll end up buying more than you needed. I have #hangry shopped before and I did so much damage in the form of Lay's chips and chocolate-covered pretzels.
  4. Bring reusable bags. Since I was shopping only for myself at the time, I limited myself to only what I could carry in one average-sized reusable shopping bag. You're both saving the environment from plastic bags and preventing yourself from over-shopping. Additionally, some stores will actually give you credit for bringing your own bag!

Now that we've gone over some of the basics in preparing for a trip to the grocery store, I want to share with you some of my tips for saving money on your grocery bill.

Money-Saving Tips

No one wants to spend a ton of money buying food from the grocery store, but it's important to know how to find some good deals on the staples. Whether you're a college student or a busy first-time employee, the tips below will help you save some money on your next grocery trip.

  • Take advantage of coupons & applications. Coupons are great for saving money, but should only be used when you know that you need that item. Don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it! Most stores have a section up front with little coupon booklets, otherwise you can find them online on the store's website. Another great option is apps on your phone. Check out Cartwheel for Target or the Whole Foods application for weekly/monthly sales.
  • Pick from bottom or top shelves. Stores normally stock the most expensive products at eye level, so that customers are more prone to buy those items. Next time you're looking for a product, check out the lowest or highest shelves for lower prices.
  • Realize that store brands aren't terrible. Everyone loves their brand, whether it's Kraft mac & cheese or Ragu pasta sauce. But what people don't realize is that store brands are cheaper and often contain the same ingredients. So why are brands more expensive? You're paying for the name! Take a look at store brands as a cheaper alternative to your favorite name brand food items.
  • Consider frozen or canned ingredients. This is especially important for any items you know you might not finish or use right away. If you're worried about preservatives, there are plenty of organic or flash-frozen fruits and veggies out there that you can stock in your cupboard or freezer. Frozen fruits and veggies are extra helpful if you want to eat healthy but worry about food going bad.
  • Buy dried goods in bulk. I ate a lot of pasta when I first lived on my own. It was a mix of working a lot of hours and not having the energy to cook. I've since been able to move past that and enjoy cooking, but I still buy my pasta and dried goods in bulk. You can quickly make some rice, quinoa, pasta or boxed mac and cheese after a busy day, which saves you money on takeout.
Cooking isn't for everyone, so don't force yourself to start making fresh meals your first week on your own. Instead, ease into it using the tips above. The main idea is to try to avoid ordering out when you can as this can save a lot of money in the long run.

But, don't get me wrong, I love a good takeout on a Friday night after a long week. It's all about moderation!

grocery shopping

Final Notes

Grocery shopping can be a bore at first but it's really a great step towards independence. I love being able to choose my own meals and food, but it's important to keep my budget in mind.

I hope that this helped you in your venture to the grocery store! If you have any of your own tips or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter.


No comments

Thank you for your comment!

Disclaimer: all views and opinions are my own and are not influenced nor amended by outside parties. Powered by Blogger.