When going grocery shopping, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the different products on display as well as the variety within each product category. This is not by accident. Supermarkets are intense and highly proficient marketing environments whose objective it is to encourage you to spend more. Everything from how and where the products are laid out, to the sounds, smells and lighting, is used in a way that makes customers want to stay longer, walk the aisles slower, and ultimately spend more. Does this mean you should stop shopping there if you want to save money on groceries? Absolutely not – there are several reasons why you should still shop at big supermarkets if you are on a tight budget. They offer customers convenience (which is time-saving), discounts and bargains, and variability which allows consumers access to all kinds of ingredients at various prices.
However, there are several things you can do to ensure that you are not tricked into spending more than you need to – plan your purchases and shop from a shopping list, compare grocery prices, do some or all of your food purchases online and look at trade down product alternatives. Put all these strategies to work and you will not only avoid the frivolous spending temptations set up by supermarkets, but also you will find yourself spending much less on your groceries.
THE BEST WAY TO COMPARE PRICES FOR GROCERIES WHEN SHOPPING
Many people think that when it comes to saving money on groceries, the most important thing is to compare grocery prices between supermarkets. This is only partially true. If you always compare grocery prices when you are doing your shopping, you will definitely save some money. However, if you want to minimize food expenditure, it is not enough just to ensure that you are buying groceries from the supermarket where they are the cheapest. You also need to ensure that you are buying only food that you will actually eat and that you are taking all alternatives into consideration when it comes to the grocery price comparison.
Buying only the food that you will actually eat sounds like common sense, but there is a good reason why this point is emphasized. A lot of people, whether they are aware of it or not, actually buy a lot more food than they eat, resulting in a lot of waste of food and money. In fact, the average American family of four spends more than $2000 a year on food they end up throwing away! So if you want to save money, start planning your meals a week in advance. Since you’ll know what you need before you go shopping, you can compare grocery prices at home using online tools that show you how much your basket will cost at several major supermarkets. Then, do your weekly shopping all at once and only buy things that are on the shopping list, which is based on your preplanned weekly menu.
This way you will not only stop wasting food and money, but also you will be less susceptible to the supermarkets’ main marketing strategies. The aim of most of their strategies is to prolong your visit to the supermarket – the longer you’re there, the more you will spend. Making impulsive purchases is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can take you away from your goal – whether that is to save money, have a healthier diet, both, or something else. Buying impulsively also implies that you didn’t have the chance for grocery price comparison beforehand, thus it is probably reducing the possible savings. A shopping list shows exactly what you need to buy and if you are determined to stick to it then there is no chance you will be tempted into buying something that isn’t really essential or good value.
Lastly, you should try buying (some or all) your groceries online. Even online websites can be customized to entice you to spend more, but the risk is greatly diminished if you already have your shopping list. In fact, online websites which allow you to compare grocery prices and buy groceries online also offer trade down product alternatives that can save you money. The idea is to trade down a brand level and save some money in the process. So, if you were about to buy name brand dish washing liquid, the trade down alternative is to buy dish washing liquid from the supermarket’s own brand. A lot of the time, there is not such a significant difference between product alternatives when you go from brand to own brand and even to value alternatives, especially when it comes to snacks, grains, toiletries, and cleaning products, so it’s worth trying a cheaper alternatives and putting all the savings to better use. Of course, you can use this strategy along with all the rest even if you are not shopping online!