You don't have to stalk the weekly ads to save money at the grocery store. Like most people, I like to go into the store without having to deal with a meal plan, buckets full of coupons and searching for match-ups on deal bloggers' sites.
In other words, I like to keep things simple. To that end, I've got five easy grocery tips that will get you saving money in no time:
1. Shop at night.
Go to the store when other people are in bed. Most stores open late. Without the distraction of announcements, people and maybe even your kids, you can have your own Zen moment. When you are clear-headed, you're more likely to zone in on what you really need and leave out what you really don't. Plus, it's easier to give the cashier coupons without causing any delays for the line behind you.
2. Scan the Weekly Ad.
Not everyone coupons, but by glancing through your grocery store's weekly ad, you can save yourself up to 50 percent off. I normally try to buy everything organic, but it can add up easily if it's not on sale. The organic blueberries at my store usually costs around $5.99 for a small package, so I usually pass it up. But one day I got really lucky. I went to the store and grabbed the weekly ad (it's usually on a stand in front of the entrance). I scanned it quickly and saw that those organic blueberries were on sale for $2.49, which is more than half off. Scanning that ad requires almost no effort, but worth it in the end.
3. Get out of your routine.
As with most things in life, you tend to develop habits around your shopping. For example, do you notice that you always head to the dairy aisle first, then maybe the snack aisle, followed by the produce area? Instead, go venture out into the other parts of the store for things that you know you need for the future. The beauty is that they may be on sale and you can stock up while they're cheap. I always like to buy cans of beans even if I know I don't need it immediately because I know eventually I will. When they are on sale, I can save up to 60 percent.
4. Buy store-brand versus name-brand items.
Let's say you need to get chips for a party and while you scan the snack aisle, you find a store-brand chip on sale for $1.99. The name-brand counterpart costs $4.99. Both the same size, but of course you're not sure if the taste is the same. You'd be surprised how well many of these store-brand products did during a taste test. Plus, industry experts say that you can save an average of 25 percent just by buying store-brand goods.
5. Download a grocery app.
We are a society consumed by all sorts of apps, but if you want to grocery shop, save money and still be lazy, let Favado, an app created by Savings.com, do the work for you. The app will let you know all the sale items from different stores and if there is a store coupon or manufacturer coupon, it will also let you know that too (of course, you can just use it to scan the weekly ad to keep things simple). And if you're already glued to your smartphone, it's easy to incorporate into your routine.
Susan Yoo-Lee is the editor of Savings.com personal finance blog and founder of Mommas in the House blog.
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