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Food Fright

With some planning, practice and discipline, a trip to the grocery store doesn’t have to take hours, deplete your bank account or stress you out.

Article
Ryann Gordon
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
June 29, 2017

If there’s one type of shopping that all of us enjoy, it’s shopping for food. Imagine all the snacks that your heart could desire, samples galore, and delicious smells that’ll have your mouth watering and bank account cringing. You don’t have to splurge on food though, and, although a trip to the grocery store can be a blood-curdling hassle at times, there are ways to get in and out in record time, saving that extra money for more important things.

A trip to the supermarket doesn’t have to take hours or deplete your bank account. Studies have found that paying with cash, following a specific store route and shopping with a basket over a cart can minimize the number of items you purchase. Reading labels, bulking up, eating beforehand and subtracting snacks and sweets will save money and calories. And planning your store trip for specific times and days during the week will keep your trip short and sweet.

Become a healthier and more food conscious individual by putting more thought into the food you put in your body, and utilize these supermarket hacks to get the best deals and maximize the success of your weekly trip to the store. Cut out the extra time you’ve been wasting, and watch your bank account get fat while your body frame gets smaller.

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Do the math
Don’t choose any item without reading the label and doing the math to see if it’s the best choice economically. Compare more than just prices. Factor in the item’s price per pound or liter to see what gives you more bang for your buck. Also, be sure to take a close look at the added ingredients to avoid too much sodium or preservatives.

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Eat beforehand
The cardinal rule of grocery shopping — never go hungry! We’ve all made that “short” trip to the store before cooking dinner, only to be stopped at every corner by a growling stomach and the occasional food sample. Going to the store on an empty stomach is a sure way to an empty bank account and beyond-broken diet.

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Go bulk
Buying items in bulk is one of the best ways to save money on food in the long run. Don’t overdo your bulk shopping skills though, because this is one way that you can spiral yourself into late-night overeating. Bulk up on pricier items that you will need eventually, like meat and bread, and freeze the rest so that you don’t inhale it the moment that nighttime hunger kicks in.

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Save the date
Saturday and Sunday tend to be the most popular times that people plan their grocery shopping — aka the busiest, most crowded, longest grocery store trip you’ve ever had to endure. Opposite from this, only 11 percent of Americans shop Wednesday; and only 4 percent reserve it for Wednesday evening after 9 p.m.

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Ignore the name brands
Although we all love our name brands deeply, immediately reaching for the Vlassic pickles and Velveeta macaroni is an easy way to waste money at the store. Scan the entire shelf and compare prices — grocery store and generic brands tend to be dollars less in price, yet it’s surprisingly impossible to taste the difference.

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Navigate the store
While most of the prepackaged, sodium rich, processed foods sit on the shelves in the middle, the majority of fresh foods like fruits, vegetables and organics are lined around the exterior of the store. Make the perimeter your first line of action; then, stroll only down the aisles where specifics you need are hidden. You’ll get most of your essentials first and spend less money and time on the aisles that plague you with smells and colorful packaging that are hard to dismiss.

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Bring a list
As painful as grocery shopping can be, bringing a list can help you avoid having to go back after you get home and realize you forgot a key ingredient or item. With all we have to think about, it’s easy to forget even a top-of-mind item. Lists can also help you avoid impulse decisions.

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Pay cash
Being the abstract form of payment that they are, debit and credit card users on average spend 50-80 percent more on groceries. When using cash, you see before your eyes the money used and tend to use it on more products while also subconsciously seeking to spend less.

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Ditch the cart
Rather than opting for the shopping cart, grab a handheld basket instead. When you use a cart, you tend to stroll slowly through the store, tossing in every alluring food item you pass along the way. Using a basket will help you keep down the overall number of products you snatch up and get you on a fast track toward the exit the second your basket starts becoming heavy.

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Look up
Don’t grab the first of any item you see. Scan from the top to bottom on all shelves to find brands with healthier ingredients. Looking past your monopoly brands that tend to be placed at eye level, you’ll find snacks with less additives, sodium, sugar and added sweeteners, and more fiber, protein and natural ingredients.

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Cut coupons
Get out of here with that pretentiousness. Go ahead and cut those coupons throughout the week. You can take the effort further with a number of apps that offer deals on groceries, like Grocery Pal, Checkout 51, Coupons.com, Krazy Coupon Lady and more. Or, toss the coupons and get the Ibotta Cash Back app to earn rewards and pick up easy savings without the hassle of a million paper coupons.