Here’s a quick follow up to help you save more time and money when grocery shopping! If you refer back to one of my previous posts (3 Simple Steps to Organize Meal Planning and Avoid Excess Trips to the Grocery Store), you will see how I handle most of the grocery shopping needs for my family. Generally when shopping, I make sure to stick to the list. The less impulse buys you have, the less money you spend overall, and the more you are sure to use each item you purchase without wasting it.
The one area where I do stray somewhat is on nonfood goods. This could include toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, toothpaste, vitamins, etc. These items don’t go to waste or get bad if not used within a short time frame (like fresh foods will!), so if you happen to be shopping for non-food items and find what you want on sale, make sure to stock up at that time! You will spend a little more up front by purchasing more than you need in the moment, but it can save you a significant amount on the cost of that item over the course of a year.
Also look for discounts on items bought together or in bulk. I was reminded on the buying power of looking for these “similar item” discounts when shopping at my local health food store recently. As I mentioned in my grocery shopping post, our family strongly believes in organic and non-GMO goods, and since I’m still nursing Emma I’m continuing to take all my prenatal vitamins. The organic prenatal I prefer does not come cheap, and when I was shopping for them the other day I remembered that vitamin purchases at my health food store are eligible for a 25% discount if you spend over $100 in a purchase. So in addition to my prenatal, I picked out other non-food items I knew we used regularly and would be getting low on in the near future. After I did the math, the price of the multiple items together after the 25% discount was almost equal to the cost of the prenatal vitamin alone! So even though we didn’t need those other items immediately, it saved us money in the long run to purchase them all at the same time. Now when the other items run out, I already have the replacements here at the house and don’t have to make another trip to the health food store, saving myself time as well.
The other key to watching for these sales and discount bargains is to make sure that you know what you already have excess of and to check if you already have a spare item in your home before adding it to your shopping list. The best way to do this is to make sure that there is a designated place for everything in your home. In our home, spare garbage bags are always located under the kitchen sink. Spare paper towels and toilet paper are found in the basement pantry. Spare vitamins, toothpaste, razor blades, etc. are located in the closet in the master bathroom. When you get home from the store and are unpacking bags, immediately put these extra items in the places where you know you will look for them when you need them. That way there’s no need to search around for a replacement item that you think you have but just can’t find. How often have you done that – only to buy a new one and then realize you already had one at home, coming across it a few days later. This system avoids that frustration!
Having said that, I would avoid buying food and perishable items in bulk like this, even if it appears to save you money in the beginning. Most perishable bulk items go bad before they have a chance to be used and end up being thrown away, which does not lead to savings in the long run. The only exception to that rule would be if you have a proven plan to preserve these items for long-term storage, such as vacuum packing in a food saver bag (for freezer storage) or canning (for shelf storage). Long-term food storage can be worth it, but does take some time, effort, and pre-planning. So prior to buying food in bulk, make sure you have the time to commit and a solid plan in place in order to store those items properly while the food is still at its peak freshness shortly after purchase. If you have a busy schedule coming up and won’t get to it for a week or more, then I would pass on the bulk food purchases until you do have the extra time to spend on it.
So that’s it! When shopping, just remember to keep an eye out for sales (of things you already use routinely) and bulk item discounts. Over time, buying a little extra up front can save you money in the long run, especially if you stick to non-perishable items.
All the best,
P.S. If you’ve been successful using these types of shopping habits, I’d love to hear a story about a great deal you scored! Reading about other examples can be a great way to help others learn to recognize these deals when they are out shopping as well.