Grocery Shopping 101

by Madeleine Wirth
Do you ever wish there was a class on “adulting”?
Life skills like grocery shopping are hardly taught in high schools or college campuses. Many students come to college and begin regularly grocery shopping for the first time in their lives with few prior experience food shopping.
There are challenges that come with grocery shopping, and perhaps the greatest challenge is budgeting your grocery list around healthy, nutritious foods. Developing the knowledge of how to shop resourcefully and plan a realistic grocery budget requires experience. However, with the proper knowledge, you can feel empowered to navigate the grocery store knowing how to shop and what to buy. Check out these tips on how you can be an informed consumer, buy nutritious foods, and save money!

1. Plan how many meals you will need during the upcoming week. Whether or not you have a dining plan, everyone should plan to eat at least three meals a day. If you have a dining plan, consider your punches and dining dollars before buying more than enough food at the grocery store. If you don’t have a meal plan, consider how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks you will need. Be sure to consider if you plan to eat out! This will save you from buying food that will go bad before you eat it!

2. Develop a grocery list. Knowing what you need before you walk into the grocery store saves you from impulse buying. Purchasing foods you do not need is the greatest threat to your bank account. Take 20 minutes to write down the foods you need to avoid impulsive food buys.

3. Never shop hungry. People are more likely to buy highly processed and sweet foods if they shop hungry. Grab a healthy snack before hitting the grocery store. You will save money and avoid junk food you would have bought otherwise!

4. Look for the generic brand. Most foods usually have a name-brand associated with them; think of your favorite cereals, soups, and tomato sauce. Brand versions are always more expensive than the generic store-brand, but the two are usually just the same thing. You can save a dollar here and there by choosing store-brands like MyEssentials or GreatValue!

5. Compare unit prices. Unit prices are listed on the price label, usually as a cost per ounce of the food item. This helps you compare brands for the best price. For example, one box of pasta may be listed as $2.49, and another box of pasta may be listed as $3.00. Check the unit prices to determine which option is cheaper.

6. Shop at Sharp Shopper or Costco for nonperishable items. These Harrisonburg stores are stocked with great deals on bulk items. If you find yourself eating many of the same foods, like canned beans, pasta, and peanut butter, buy these foods in bulk to save money. Other stores like Kroger, Martins, and Food Lion offer deals on purchases made with a special store member card. Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for Bonus or MVP cards. If you regularly shop at those stores, be sure to register! You will be surprised by the money you’ll save! You can also save money by planning meals around special deals offered with Bonus or MVP cards.

7. Consider “making it yourself”. Although convenient, many frozen dinners are highly processed with additives and extra salt. Buying the ingredients to make the meal yourself is likely much more nutritious. It will also save you money in the long run as you can make larger batches to last you through the week!

8. Visit the freezer aisle for produce. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is often cheaper than buying fresh produce. The fruits and veggies are frozen shortly after being harvested, making them just as nutritious. Be sure to wrap frozen veggies and fruits tightly to avoid freezer burn.

9. Check the nutrition label for fiber, saturated fat, and sugar. Choose snack options that are low in refined sugars and saturated fat. Instead, choose foods that are high in fiber. Fiber is great for digestive health while keeping you satiated longer!

With these things in mind, you can approach and leave the grocery store feeling confident about the food you buy!
Happy shopping!

12 Tips on Saving Money [Part 1]

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