Ah, the grocery store. The venue that can add costs to a family or individual's budget, in addition to costing us our mental health at times too depending on what time of the day you visit. However, we all have to eat at some point, and there are a few ways to deal with the anxiety of heading out to local supermarket and making it less stressful on both you and your finances.
Problem 1 - We shop at the same time as everyone else.
Raise your hand if you generally do most of your grocery shopping on Saturdays and Sundays. How about if you generally do it between 11 am and 1 pm? If you do, don't feel bad, because according to the American Time Use Survey, apparently so does everybody else.
Simple Problem Solver - Shop during non peak hours! If you can, try shopping during a non peak day like a Monday or a Tuesday. Even better, if you can slide in before 4 pm, you have even better chances of avoiding the after work crowds. This might not be the case everywhere though, as I know we frequently have still seen decent sized crowds during the daytime hours as well.
How many times have you gone to the grocery store, thought you grabbed everything only to realize, annnnnd I forgot something else? I know we've been guilty of that on occasion as well. It can get expensive rather quickly in both your grocery budget, and gas mileage as well!
Simple Problem Solver - While this might seem like a no brainer, it really can help to have a meal plan ahead of time, be it for breakfast, lunches or dinners. A favorite app of our family's is the Paprika Recipe Manager. It let's you add your own recipes, go to the in app web browser to your favorite recipe sites and parse recipe information from there, and then can automatically build shopping lists for you based on those recipes! A definite time saver!
Problem 3 - Worst of all, we waste a TON of food.
According to Consumer Reports, we throw out about $1500 worth of groceries a year. Not good. While you might have intended to consume that produce in your fridge that is starting to grow additional produce, then you go out to eat a few nights, forget that brown bag lunch a few days, and next thing you know that triple coupon on $20 worth of produce didn't seem like that great of a deal after all.
Simple Problem Solver - Plan that budget of yours to your calendar, along with your new meal plan. If you know you're going to be going out with some friends on Tuesday or to that tasty Fish Fry Friday, shift your grocery budget dollars over to your dining out budget.
Again, these might seem like no brainers, but in the long run, can really save you time, money, and patience on that next trip out. Food delivery services like HelloFresh realize the growing trend of customers wanting healthy foods without the grocery store experience, but sometimes you need more than that as well, or perhaps want to make your own meals and ingredients with delivery as Meijer will start to roll out later this month as well in select markets.
Regardless, when in doubt, plan it out!