Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Budget-Wise Tips for Holiday Grocery Shopping

Next week marks the beginning of grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

If you're on a budget this can be a stressful time. You may well feel under pressure to buy foods you don't usually eat and that aren't necessarily within your budget.

Today I thought I'd recap some of my top tips for staying on budget grocery shopping and then over the rest of the week, I'll offer tips specific to staying on budget during the holidays.

7 Budget-wise Pre-Shopping Tips

1) Plan ahead; think about the upcoming week -- how many meals will be eaten at home and by how many people.

2) What supplies are already on hand in the pantry and fridge and what items do you need.

3) What's on sale at the grocery store and what coupons can you use (check online for both). As you know I shop at Whole Foods because their values align with mine, so I check out "What's on Sale" each week, and for coupons I check the "Whole Deal."

4) With the previous points in mind, create a basic menu plan for the week--keeping in mind that one or two main meals can be created from leftovers--and write an accompanying shopping list.

5) Make your menu plan and shopping list flexible this way you can accommodate good deals which you'll be more aware of once you're at the grocery store.

6) Plan to buy at least 80% of your groceries as whole, unprocessed foods i.e. in-season fresh vegetables and fruit, fish and or meat / poultry, some dairy, and bulk dry goods with the remaining 20% of your items as packaged, tinned or frozen.

7) Peruse your favorite cookbooks for ideas when you write your menu plan and shopping list, but use recipes as a guideline only, don't feel you have to follow them exactly otherwise your shopping list will end up containing items out-of-season and not within your budget. So improvise, swap out ingredients for produce in-season and on sale.

7 Budget-wise In-Store Tips

1) If grocery shopping is stressful for you, try to shop when the grocery store is least busy i.e. early in the morning or in the evening after dinner.

2) If you impulse purchase when hungry, don't grocery shop on an empty stomach.

3) One-stop shop and then only once a week, otherwise you waste time and money driving around from store to store.

4) Have your list on hand at all times at the grocery store, and stick to it, though allow yourself one impulse purchase within your means, per week.

5) Buy 80% of your groceries from the store's periphery as whole, unprocessed foods--weigh fresh produce so you know how much you'll be paying-- and 20% of your groceries from the middle aisles.

6) Once in the middle aisles avoid prolonged browsing; the attractive merchandising is a marketing strategy designed to encourage impulse purchasing, and not a guarantee of healthful food within your budget.

7) Give yourself a time limit to collect the groceries on your list and to check out.

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