Grocery Shopping 101

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A skill that many take for granted is the ability to grocery shop.  I grew up taking weekly Kroger trips with an expert:  my mother.  After 18 years of being a prodigy to a master of the art, I can safely say that my my first experiences practicing the skill independently have been successful.

I've had roommates baffled by the prices I spend in comparison to their trips.  I can often live off of $50 worth of groceries for about 2-3 weeks.  It's not always about the price, though, given you may need some other items occasionally.  Whatever the scenario, use these strategies for your next grocery shopping trip so that it won't seem as tedious or costly.

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Getting the Right Price
I will highlight Kroger for most of this blog, since it is right next to campus and the store with which I am most familiar.  That being said, use a Kroger Plus Card!  This option entitles you to discounted prices you otherwise would not have.  On my average grocery bill, I will save anywhere between $4 and $8, and those numbers quickly add up.  

If you do choose to shop at Kroger, use the Kroger brand of goods when applicable.  For example, "Frosted Flakes" in the Kellogg's version are around $4, but with the Kroger brand, the near exact replica is less than $2.  Learning to sacrifice the name brand will do wonders for your budget.

Sometimes spending more dollar amounts means saving more in totality.  If you look closely at the labels on the shelf, there is a unit price in the bottom left corner.  A half-gallon of milk that is $1.99 has a unit price of 3.1 cents per fluid ounce, while a full gallon at $3.29 has a unit price of 2.5 cents per fluid ounce.  This principle carried to all your grocery shopping will accumulate into greater savings, better value, and longer time in your pantry or fridge.

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Making a List
If you have an extensive shopping list and frequently forget to pick up certain items, maybe you need to organize your planning.  My system is to visualize the retail format that most Kroger stores use and plan from right to left; I begin listing items in the right side of the store (fresh foods, produce, organic food) and finish with items I'll find on the left (milk and cold beverages).  This method makes it easy to browse for products without having to go back and forth across the store.

Even if you can't remember the exact location of items in the store (which you will easily with practice), it's still important to make some sort of list if you have a budget.  When you see all the items listed out, you won't be astonished by the order total flashing on the screen when you check out.  Rather, you can look at the long list and make cutbacks on things you don't necessarily need in order to stay within your budget.

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Timing
If you're like me, and you don't want to shop around a ton of people, you have about two options.  The first and easiest is to go when there aren't a lot of people.  Statistically, the hours from 7 pm to 1 am are the lowest traffic times at Kroger.  Going in this time frame is a much more peaceful way to shop than the afternoons when everyone is getting off of work.

The second option is to use a click list.  Both Kroger and Wal-Mart provide this service for you.  You will order whatever you need online, and then workers at the stores will do the shopping in the store for you.  You can pick an hour that works for you for pick-up, and you'll park in a loading zone where workers of the store will load your vehicle for you.

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Don't ever hesitate to reach out to me if you want more grocery shopping wisdom.  Feel free to ask questions below, or plan a hands-on experience with me where I can walk you through the best way you can shop (only for a small fee because I need more money in general).

Tyler,
Only taking one trip up the stairs with my grocery bags

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