Friday, December 16, 2011

Financial Fridays, No. 2: Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Now, I think I've said this before, but I'm one of those weird people who likes grocery shopping. *gasp* I know. Super weird, right? Who likes grocery shopping?

Something about it is just very calming for me. However, I'm also one of those people who doesn't really like to shop in general, so the times that I do have to go buy something, I want to go in, find the item I need, pay for it, and leave.

With this background info in mind, here's Part One of my guide on how to go grocery shopping.

Just how does one go about shopping for groceries:

a. ... without spending a ridiculous amount?

Buy what's on sale.

Juuust kidding. It's a little more complex than that.

For some reason, our apartment doesn't get the Ralphs ad in our mailbox, so Shellie and I have to go online to {1} look at the weekly ads. I would say that going through each page and making a grocery list of things that look interesting to you really helps when it comes time to actually do your shopping.

After a while, you become familiar with prices and what's reasonable or unreasonable to pay for something that you like to eat. I've noticed that prices vary widely from week to week, so if you didn't happen to notice that peaches were on sale for $0.88/lb last week, you might pay the $1.39/lb they're advertising as "On Sale" this week.

Another thing to do is to {2} make a grocery list. It may sound silly or like a waste of your time, but it really helps. Once you're actually in the store, a grocery list keeps you on track and reminds you of the exact things you came here for-- no wandering off into the cookie aisle just because you don't remember what you need. This caution against cookie aisle wandering will also make an appearance later...

If you are willing to do your grocery shopping at more than one location, then you can {3} compare prices from store to store. For instance, Ralphs happens to carry more stuff than Trader Joe's {sorry. I could have said 'foodstuffs' but that's just kinda redundant} and is usually cheaper when it comes to the basics {ie: bread or whathaveyou}, but Trader Joe's {Trader Joe's'? Trader Joe's's?} produce prices are lower about 75% of the time. This is because TJ's sells their fruits and veggies by the item {1 banana, 2 banana, 3 banana, 4 = $0.19/each no matter the size} as opposed to by the pound {1 banana = 0.78 lbs = $0.64}, the way Ralphs does.

One last tip for how to buy food on a college student budget is to {4} never go grocery shopping when you're hungry. Seriously, this is a bigger deal than you think. If you walk into a store full of food packaged in such a way as to tempt you to buybuybuy, it's not going to help you any if you feel like you haven't eaten in daaaays. Because when you're hungry, everything looks good to you, everything looks yummy. Things that you would not normally eat look appetizing. And then once you get home and actually make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich and you're no longer starving, you'll look in your fridge/cupboard and wonder why the heck you bought those {insert whatevertheheckyoubought here}. Not cool. Those impulse buys/unnecessary items add up faster than you might think.

Some of your hungriness can be negated if you have a grocery list {see 2} because you won't get as distracted, but trust me when I say that your brain can and will definitely find a way to justify the urgent need you have for Parmesan Goldfish... *sheepish grin*


{I was going to write this all up as one post, but it was getting rather long, so I've split it up. Read the rest of my tips here.}

{link will be added next week}

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