Never go to the grocery store without a list. I mean it, never. It is one of the first pieces of advice that any crazy coupon lady, financial advisor or anyone who is good at saving money on food will tell you. It is right up there with “pack your lunch during the week” and “do not go to the grocery store hungry.”
The idea for this column came to mind when I was at Kroger this morning. I scanned my loyalty card and thought, “There is no better feeling than watching my total go down so drastically.”I saved $20 on what would have been a $50 shopping trip. Not bad, right?
Having a grocery list prepared before going to the store will save you time, sanity and, most importantly, money. Would you go to class without preparing or doing the reading beforehand?
Okay well maybe sometimes that happens, but it never does you any good, does it? No. So do not go to the store without preparing beforehand either.
In this column I will give you a strategy to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, all while saving the most money possible.
Wandering aimlessly around the grocery aisles is dangerous, friends. It is so easy to stumble upon a new product or something with pretty packaging that you just have to try. Next thing you know, your cart is spilling over with things like chocolate hummus, five wild flavors of yogurt, one bag of each new flavor of Cheetos and eight tubs of Blue Bell, even though you only came to the store for cereal and some toilet paper.
The key to keep this from happening every time is simple: preparation. Before I go to the grocery store, I take 10 minutes to sit and make my list. However, I do not just write what I think I need and go; I write down exactly what I am going to have for lunch and dinner every day in the upcoming week.
Sure, plans may change, but it is nice to have an idea of what I need and what the week will look like. When I make my list, I pull up the weekly ad on my Kroger app for the location that I frequent, then create a list and a meal plan with the sales in the ad.
Instead of creating a meal plan composed of what you always make or what is comfortable, try basing meals off of what’s on sale, and you could save a few bucks each week. It is also a good way to branch out and try new recipes that you may have never had before!
Kroger is not paying me to write this (although, ahem, they should), so take comfort in knowing that this is truly what I believe when I say that the Kroger mobile app may be the best thing that has ever happened to me. There are so many neat features on the app that I use every single time I go to the store or make my grocery list.
You can create your list right on the app, so there is no need to bring a pen and paper with you! Just search for a product and click the little list icon to add it; the app even tells you where that item is in the store, so there is no need to wander around searching. This right here eliminates a lot of the risk of buying unnecessary items because you can just walk straight to where you need to go!
The app also has a section just for coupons that you can download right to your Kroger card, and if you are not already doing this, you are definitely missing out. The app keeps track of the items that you purchase most frequently and gives you personalized coupons based on your shopping history!
The best part is that if you see an item that you realize you need or want while you are already at the store, you can download the coupon to your card right there. Is anyone else absolutely geeking out about this? No? Alright, well I still highly recommend you give it a shot!
This app, along with a written meal plan, has probably saved me hundreds of dollars over these last few years of living on my own. Mom, I hope you are proud!
The takeaway here, my friends, is never ever go grocery shopping without a plan. I hope that you learned something new here, and I hope that you can implement some of these strategies next time you head to the grocery store.
The Kroger app and meal planning are just what have worked for me, but if you have your own tricks for saving money at the store, please feel free to send them my way at my email address below.
Lauren Adams is a senior studying Spanish and Political Science with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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