Five Grocery Shopping Tips for Bachelors (and Bachelorettes)
According to Reuters, here we are in the year 2007 and men still don't know their way around a grocery store:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - So, this guy walked into a grocery store ... and got completely overwhelmed.
U.S. men are doing more and more grocery shopping, both for themselves and their families, but retailers are still not doing much to make the trip any more enticing, retail consultants and industry experts said.
In 2002, 41 percent of men said they did at least some grocery shopping, a figure that jumped to 61 percent in 2004, according to marketing consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail.
The 2006 survey showed 71 percent of men said they had shopped in a grocery store in the past three months, with 56 percent saying they shopped there in the past week, though WSL changed its method for conducting the survey, so 2006 and 2004 figures are not directly comparable.
My dad was always determined not to raise me to be as domestically inept as he'd been early in life. When my dad got out of the military, he didn't know how to cook anything, so he ate nothing but macaroni & cheese.
He taught me to cook a few basic things and took me to the grocery store regularly. We made a game of it -- how much could we save on coupons every week?
It's worked out pretty well. I know my way around the grocery store and can cook better than most girls I know.
Now, much like Christopher Walken giving young Bruce Willis his dad's watch in Pulp Fiction, I pass along my grocery shopping tips to you:
Go grocery shopping with your roommate(s), significant other, or whatever friend is handy. You can carpool to save on gas and help the environment. It's a good way to catch up with a friend, and it'll make an otherwise tedious trip go by much faster. And you'll double your product knowledge base. What new cereal is worth trying? Which organic product tastes just as good as its standard equivalent? What expensive coffee tastes like burned cardboard?
2. Shop Small and Shop Often
When I first got out of college, I'd go grocery shopping once a month, get $150 worth of stuff, then lament that most of the fruits and vegetables had gone bad before I could eat them. Well, duh -- I was buying a month's worth of fruits and vegetables, then acting surprised they only lasted a week. Now I try to get to the store once a week or so to get about $50 worth of stuff. Not only do I eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer frozen meals, it helps save money -- instead of only catching one round of sale items per month, I catch three or four.
3. The Card is Your Friend
You can save around 25% a week on specials with the Harris Teeter VIC card, Giant Bonus card, or whatever your store uses. Stay flexible on brands and varieties -- at the deli, I just get a half pound of whatever turkey is on sale that week, I really don't notice if it's the oven-roasted or honey-smoked or whatever. Two-for-ones are far and away the biggest savers. Keep in mind if the special is "2 for $4" or "10 for $10" you don't have to buy 2 or 10 -- you can buy just one at the same discounted rate.
My personal record: I once paid just $60 for groceries that would've cost $100 without the card & coupons. How do I know this? I saved the receipt as a trophy. Yes, I'm a dork.
4. Don't Fall for the Fake Sale
Ever wonder why grocery stores have those little hanging stickers that say "EVERYDAY LOW PRICES" or "GREAT BARGAIN"? Because they draw your attention to an item and make you think it's on sale when it's really not. Harris Teeter will even put stuff on sale ... for ten cents off. Read the fine print.
5. Coupons: Not Just for Porcelain Figure Collectors
I'm a coupon clipper. It doesn't save me much money -- around $5 a trip -- but it does help me find new products I wouldn't ordinarily spot. I remember first spotting Uncrustables in the coupons ... "Wait, peanut butter AND jelly, already made in a sandwich? And they don't go bad? How many will they let me buy at once? A hundred? A thousand?"
Oh, and did I mention you should use a reusable grocery bag?