With busy schedules, limited budgets, and hungry bellies, some days it’s all I can do to throw a pizza in the oven and hope the green bell peppers count as a full vegetable serving. With so many activities limiting our time, just buying the food can be a victory. Save money, buy healthy, and stress less over grocery shopping using a few tips to get you in and out of the grocery store quickly and under budget.
Plan Weekly Meals
Plan your menu before you go; whether you shop at the same store every week or drop in to a location that is closest at the moment, meal planning is a must. This not only saves you from impulse purchases, but it also helps by predetermining what you need and how much you need of it. And considering the average American tosses out 25% of their food and beverage budget, planning ahead for exactly what you need could save you thousands. Pepperplate is a great meal planning app that works with most devices and can even upload recipes from many supported sites.
Shop for the Week
Limit the number of trips to the grocery store by writing down everything you need for at least a week. This free grocery list is designed to mimic most grocery store layouts, making it easier to remember every item on your list. No longer having to crisscross the store to get items you’ve forgotten, you now have more time to prepare the meal.
Navigate Healthy Choices
Come away with healthier options by shopping the outer perimeter of the store. Most stores have their packaged, processed foods in the middle aisles, while the produce and frozen foods are on the outer aisles. By sticking to the outer aisles, you can reduce the amount of time spent looking at options. And, with the average store carrying 42,686 items, that is a lot of inventory to consider. Stick to the outer walls of the store, and you’ll reduce impulse purchases and select healthier options.
Ask for Discounts
Don’t be afraid to ask for deals, discounts, or bulk purchase options. One of the best shopping trips I ever had was because a sales person recommended adding two more items to my purchase, which ended up saving me over $50 in discounts. Meal deals, volume discounts by manufacturers such as General Mills or Kraft, or store VIP cards can offer savings that add up quickly.
Fill Your Freezer
Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables when they go on sale. Additive free and chock full of nutrients since they are packed at peak ripeness, frozen vegetables offer numerous health options in meal planning. And, with multiple cuts available, chopping and prep time can be cut drastically.
Don’t let a busy schedule and a tight budget limit your ability to provide healthy meals for you and your family. With a little planning and list preparation, you will no longer dread the time spent at the grocery store and you will have more time to enjoy the healthier food choices at home.
Kristin Long is the founder and CEO of Organizational Specialists, Inc., a full-range professional organizing services company based in northern Virginia and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers since 2004.