Grocery Shopping: A Survival Guide

By: The Farmers Bank

After being married for almost 50 years, I have a confession to make. No, I have not murdered anyone, stolen any cars (at least not since I “borrowed” my sister’s car some 51 years ago and proceeded to wreck it!) or have I ever, ever stuffed things under the bed or the closet when someone knocked on my door! My true confession is that for many years I have HATED, HATED going grocery shopping!

Why? It takes too long, costs too much and I begin to lose my patience with the guy in front of me that has a cart full of individual drinks and yogurt needing at least five or six price checks on items that don’t scan, all the while talking on the cell phone. Ugh!!!!!

I can’t do anything about the slow guy in front of me but I can do something about the time and money spent on my trips. Here are three grocery shopping habits from and how to break free from them.

The Habit – We shop when everyone else shops.

According to the American Time Use Survey, most of us do our shopping on Saturdays and Sundays (when everyone else is there.) Most of us arrive at the store between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. It is so crowded due to traffic jams in the aisles (isn’t there always someone taking up the whole isle, oblivious to the fact that no one else can get by?) that we end up grabbing anything just to GET DONE!!!

The Answer – Shop at non-peak hours.

Mondays and Tuesdays are the least busy days. Go before 4 p.m. or after dinner. If you must shop on the weekend, go before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

The Habit – We go to the store more than once a week.

Statista reports that Americans visit the supermarket 1.6 times per week. That will not come as a surprise to any of you. How many times have you gotten home, started dinner and realized that you didn’t have everything you need? So you haul yourself to the grocery to get that “key ingredient” and 5 more things you see. That gets expensive fast!

The Answer – Make a meal plan before you go.

This might seem a little boring but if you make out a meal plan and buy only what is on your list, you will save money and have everything you need. This saves time. You don’t have to stand in the store and wonder what might be good to eat on Thursday and buy on impulse or stand at the meat counter debating what to get. Don’t tell me you haven’t ever done that! I’ve seen you standing there right beside me wondering what to get.

The Habit – We waste a ton of food.

Yes, I said it! You know who you are!!! We waste about $1,500 worth of groceries each year, according to Consumer Reports. We pay good money for those black bananas and wilted lettuce, just to throw them out. Problem is…We buy too much food!!! We fully intend to use it, but go out to dinner a couple times a week or leave it out of our lunch boxes, forgetting it is in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator or on the shelf. Pretty soon, we’re throwing away $10 to $15 worth of wilted lettuce, bananas or ground beef, when no one is looking.

The Answer – Match your budget to your calendar.

While making up your food plan for the week, look at your social calendar and see when you are having dinner with friends or date night, eliminating those meals from your list. Instead of buying too much food, use that money to help pay for your entertainment or dinners out. says if we will break these three costly grocery shopping habits, you’ll gain more time in your schedule and keep more money in your wallet. I can’t help you with the slow dude in the checkout lane but maybe you can put your time to good use by taking a good book or rearranging the candy bars and packages of gum while waiting!

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