Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grocery Shopping 101

As a college student, I am always on a budget. I currently live off- campus in an apartment and cook a majority of my meals while only dining out for special occasions. As a result, I have become an expert at grocery shopping. Here are a few of my tips to make grocery shopping an efficient, pleasant and easy experience!

1. Plan Ahead 
To prevent over- buying and wasting food, it is key to look at your week and plan ahead. If you know you will be eating out for one or two nights, simply don't buy as much food. If you can, plan out specific meals or look up specific recipes you want to try. That way you know exactly what you need. 

2. Make a List After you look at your upcoming week, write down what you need. This will limit your time at the store and keep you focused. Sometimes I mentally go through each meal of the day and write down the foods I need. Check out these great iPhone Apps for grocery shopping!

3. Don't Be Afraid of Frozen Foods
Frozen foods are a great way to ensure you always have something to eat. Trader Joes has delicious (and healthy) frozen entrees ranging from sweet potato gnocchi to chicken tikka masala. Frozen berries are great for smoothies and frozen vegetables are perfect for a quick stir fry! I always keep veggie burgers in my freezer for the nights I don't have time to cook. Don't be afraid to try different brands- find what you like! 

4. Shop During Off- Hours
Grocery stores can get crowded, especially on weekends, which means long lines. Instead of wasting your time waiting around in long checkout lines, try to go when no one else is there. I've found that mornings-early afternoons during the week are the best times to go. 

5. Don't Shop on an Empty Stomach!
Although this seems silly, it is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach can lead you to buy things you only want to satisfy your immediate cravings rather than things you actually need. Eat a quick snack before you go so you won't get distracted.

6. Go Green!
Although it is more difficult to find farmers markets in the winter, try to shop at farmers markets as much as possible! Not only will you save money and get high quality, fresh ingredients, but you will support local farmers and your community. Don't forget to use reusable shopping bags too!

7. Get a Rewards Card (if applicable)
Items in grocery stores can randomly go on sale when you use a rewards card or a savings card for that specific store. The money you save can really add up. See if you this option is available at your local market.

I hope you find these tips helpful! Try them out and let me know what you think! 

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