Monday, August 3, 2009

Tips to Help you Prepare to Grocery Shop

Boulder native Wayne Yee, read posts on this blog, watched the Market to Mouth pilot then asked me if I'd go with him to Whole Foods so he could get acquainted with their deals.

Working from home, Wayne is around when his 11- and 13-year old kids get home from school and with his flexible schedule, he's also taken on some of the household duties, like the grocery shopping.

He also shared that his interest in cooking has been reignited. Apparently the family had a subscription to Cooking Light and had canceled it, but it kept arriving in the mail, so Wayne took that as an omen.

The Yee family lives just down the road from Safeway where Wayne does most of the grocery shopping because, he says, it's convenient. Periodically he takes a trip to Costco to stock up because it's cheap. "It's all about convenience and price," he said.

I responded that he's not alone in his thinking.

When we met at Whole Foods, I picked up The Good Stuff For Less flier, and The Whole Deal which is full of coupons, menu plans, shopping lists and tips, thinking Wayne would find the information helpful, but he'd already accessed both fliers online.

In fact, he'd gone to Whole Foods and Safeway's websites and done a cost comparison.

Whole Foods now has a Compare and Save flier online too. It gives shoppers the chance to review the value they're getting on certain items compared to Safeway, King Soopers and Costco.

I'm an avid online researcher and I highly recommend taking the time to go online before you do your grocery shopping as a way to prepare.

In addition to online research, consider these 6 tips before you head off to the store:
  1. Look in your fridge and cupboards, what do you already have and what do you need?
  2. Now think about the upcoming week, how many meals will you be eating at home? How many meals do you anticipate eating out? Are you having friends over for a meal during the upcoming week?
  3. Go online and check out WFs sale items in Good Stuff For Less and discount coupons in The Whole Deal. Jot down sale items that you'd like to include in your weekly menu plan.
  4. With 1, 2 & 3 in mind, jot down the main meals you'd like to prepare for the upcoming week. Check out WFs The Whole Deal for menu-planning ideas for singles, couples and families, and browse their recipes for ideas or peruse your favorite recipe books.
  5. Don't be bound by your recipe books. Use them as inspiration, but allow yourself the opportunity to be creative while also considering your budget.
  6. With all of the above in mind, write your shopping list for the week. I always write my list standing in front of the fridge and cupboards -- doors wide open.
If you implement this kind of pre-shopping strategy, by the time you get to the grocery store, you're organized and aware of what you need, don't need, what's on sale, and where in the store you need to go in order to collect the groceries you want.

And being organized means you're less likely to impulsively buy things you don't need and things you can't afford.

Having a strategy before you go shopping, and a list once you're at the store, affords you the chance to stay stress-free while shopping, and it helps you stay on budget.

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