Thursday, April 16, 2009

6 Tips for Sticking to a Grocery Budget

When I post meal ideas on this blog, I use items from the most recently posted grocery list.

I stress often the importance of using a list when grocery shopping.

Simply, if you want to stick to a budget, write a shopping list, then once at the store adhere to your list.

Today the New York Times online published an article that directly supports the idea of writing and sticking to a shopping list. Without a list, it says, we become disoriented by the multitude of choices and make impulse purchases for reasons we can't explain.

Impulse purchases break your budget, so try these 6 handy tips to help you stick to that budget.
  1. Write a list. That way you'll buy the things you do need and not the things you don't. My friend Jane, whom I've been featuring this week, keeps a list of staples on her computer. Each week she crosses off items she doesn't need and adds the items she does need.
  2. As you write your list, check your fridge, cupboards and pantry. Think ahead. Consider the upcoming week. Are you planning on having people over? How many meals will you eat at home and how many people will eat those meals.
  3. Once at the grocery store, stick to your list. Avoid impulse purchases. That said, I do allow myself one treat per week and it's always something within my means.
  4. Avoid packaged food, like cereals, rice, nuts, trail mix -- you'll always pay for packaging. Instead buy dry goods in bulk, that way you'll pick and pay for only what you need.
  5. Don't buy what you can't afford. And do avoid buying more than you need, especially perishables. Throwing wilted lettuce out is like tossing dollar bills into the trash.
  6. One-stop shop. I know it's tempting to drive from store-to-store chasing the best deal, but ask yourself, are you really saving money spending time, gas and energy going from here to there and back again. Instead, invest the time researching which store offers you the best overall value for money on your groceries and become a loyal customer to that one store. Most grocers offer loyal-customer discounts, so take advantage of those programs.
Coming up on Market to Mouth, I'll be featuring two single, Bridget Jones-esque roommates who asked me to show them how to reduce their grocery bill. Yesterday I met the girls at Whole Foods-- they had a shopping list--and we spent 2 hilarious hours as I shadowed them, teaching them what not to buy, and what to buy instead!

I'll be posting some video footage of that shopping excursion, plus tips and tricks for singles who want to save on their grocery bill, and of course I'll be offering simply, gourmet meals ideas from the items on the girl's shopping list.

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