When you are the only person in your household, grocery shopping can be challenging. The only person your grocery list has to appease is you, and it is easy to shop impulsively, or purchase too much — which can impact your budget. Not to worry, there are tips you can follow in planning your next shopping trip.
Carefully planning out your meals helps you shop in both a less wasteful and economical way. The primary goal here is to take as much time to prepare and plan your trip to the grocery store as you do grocery shopping.
Here's a breakdown of essential food items you will likely need when you are just buying for yourself. Also, they are easy foods to combine with others to ensure you have a healthy meal or snack. They include:
- A carton of eggs
- Complex Carbohydrates
- Fruits and vegetables
Some items you should always stock in your cupboards are ketchup, olive oil, chopped garlic, balsamic vinegar, and peanut butter.
Where to Shop
Today, you have a handful of options available to you to get your food, and it can be difficult to decide which one is your best choice. Below are some standard options.
- Traditional Supermarkets: Chain and local neighborhood stores, carry a big selection of products, vegetables and fruits out of season, and in-store specials. They may also accept coupons and offer discount cards for customer loyalty.
- Warehouse Stores: These stores offer discounts on groceries you buy in bulk. These stores, such as Costco and Sam’s Club require a paid membership. Since you are buying groceries for yourself and not for a large family, warehouse stores may not be the best option for you.
- Organic/Health/Natural/Specialty Grocery Stores: You get a large selection of fresh organic or natural foods along with specialty items like vitamins/supplements, gluten-free products, and food for vegetarians.
- Farmer’s Market: Food is tasty and fresh and gives you an opportunity to support your local farmers. One thing to note, availability of foods at a farmer’s market change with the seasons.
Weigh your options carefully. You may benefit from shopping at a couple of these options.
To get in and out of your grocery store quickly with just the right amount of food to prepare your meals, here are a few shopping tips.
Make it a point to never shop without a list. Before heading out to the store, always create a shopping list and try not to deviate from it. Some grocery store industry studies conducted showed that around 70 percent of grocery store purchases are unplanned, which can lead to impulsive shopping or over-spending.
When making your list, don't just jot down what pops up in your head on the way out your door. Instead, allow yourself 15 minutes to consider what you wish to eat that week. Take some time to go through your fridge and cupboards to see what you need. Meal plan your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week and make sure you buy appropriate amounts. Buying too much means you are tossing good money in the trash. It can be helpful to visualize the store aisles (if you regularly shop at the same store) and mentally go through the items.
Have a snack before you shop. Never go to the grocery store hungry. That is a sure way of buying impulsively. Studies show that going to the grocery store on an empty stomach leads to more money spent on food. So, have a snack before you go. It will save you money.
Be wary of the “buy more save, more specials.” Do you honestly need ten packages of cheese or 20 containers of yogurt? These specials typically aren’t for you. When advertised specials say “10 for $10,” it usually means you can buy 5 for $5 as well.
Go generic when possible. In many cases, generic products are only given a different label but manufactured in the same factory. The only reason they are lower priced is that they do not have to pay to advertise to keep up with brand awareness. Buy with caution, however, as some generic foods may not made as well and may not worth the savings. It is a good idea to experiment with generic products to save yourself some money and only switch to the brand name item if you are not satisfied with a particular generic item.
It only takes a small amount of planning to shop efficiently for your groceries. Overspending often leads to food waste. Careful planning will save money.