Plan your list! Don’t go in any store without a list. I keep a pen and paper in my kitchen and jot down things I may run low on throughout the week. I also use my trusty “ECHO” to keep lists of “to dos”. Of course, the chances I have the list with me when it’s convenient to hit the store is slim, so I either take a picture of the list or I input it in my phone. The Echo keeps my list in an app on my phone so it’s always handy.
Start your list BEFORE you are completely out. E.g. 3 eggs left? It goes on the list.
Keep track of toiletries on the same list.
Sort through the list and assign which products are bought from where. Can they wait until your monthly run or is it something that needs to be picked up for convenience?
Keep a running “staples” list. For example, I only pick up the same handful of items from Whole Foods. I buy the same things each month at the meat market. I don’t often stray from my staples.
Stay on the outside perimeter of the store. Think about it, around the perimeter, you have your produce, your meat and eggs, & refrigerated goods. When you start diving into the aisles, your cart will get mixed with processed things in boxes and by the time you get to check out, your bill is double your budget.
Stick to your list!
You may have items on your list that require dipping into aisles. Spices, nut butters, oils or cleaning supplies. You should know that ahead of time, and go straight to the list items.
If you must go in the lanes – READ LABELS!
Learning to read labels and know your ingredients is so valuable. It’s tedious and time consuming at first, but once you know what you are looking for, you can ditch stuff pretty quickly.
Watch for misleading signs in the produce section. Whole Foods often has more conventional produce than they have organic!
Take advantage of specialty stores & local markets. Not only are they often more affordable, the food is sourced diligently. We have a local “Delaware Chicken Farms” market. It has been around since the 60’s. The chicken farm is right behind their little shop. Pasture raised, organic everything, wild sourced fish, they know the local farmer where they source their eggs (they don’t use their chickens for eggs). I go here once a month and walk out with more meat and seafood at a third of the cost of Whole Foods.
This may be the best “rule” of all – do not go to the grocery store hungry. Have you ever noticed when you are hungry, you go nuts at the store? In fact, it’s just the opposite when you are full. I literally just went to the store full and made great choices on some tempting items that I would have absolutely rationalized – had I been hungry.
Unless you want to invest double the money or bring food into your house that you would normally not stock, have a nice meal before you hit the store.