Bring a list. Don’t lie to yourself. A mental note won’t cut it. You’ll forget the most crucial items you need and realize it as soon as you return home from the store. Try posting a list on your refrigerator, and updating it as you run low or out of items.
Browse through the ads in advance, forming a game plan. A little preparation never hurts. If you can enter the store with an idea of what you want, and knowledge of which products are on sale — you’re in good shape.
The golden rule. Surely you’ve heard this before, but, never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Everything will look delightful and you’ll overspend considerably. Which brings me to another important guideline; set a budget. There’s nothing worse than getting a total at the register that’s way larger than you anticipated.
Shop really early or really late. Mornings are full of the elderly, and late nights are full of weirdos, but the key is that there’s very few of them. Going in the daytime means sharing the store with the masses. They’ll block aisles carelessly, and go through the express lane knowing damn well that they have over 10 items.
Be thorough. Check your eggs for cracks and fruits for soft spots. It’s a bummer to discover damaged goods when they’re already home with you.
Buy the things that don’t magically appear. When I first moved out on my own, I was shocked by the amount of products that you never think to buy, like ketchup, mustard, spices, tape, scissors, cooking utensils, etc. All those years of parents replacing condiments, toiletries and random items can make a person oblivious to the fact that they don’t replenish themselves, or materialize in your handy drawer.
If a savings card is available, get one. Numerous stores offer special cards that provide discounts on sale products. You may be in a hurry, but it’s well worth 30 seconds of your time to acquire one for the long run.
Experiment with generic products. For the most part, these decisions will depend on your own taste buds and opinions. Some people don’t mind that store-brand cereal gets soggy quicker, or the generic lotions doesn’t moisturize well — they can buy the cheaper versions. For those who need particularly soft skin and crunchy cereal, marque names are a must. Careful though; some products such as batteries aren’t worth the logo. Yes, Energizer lasts a little longer than the no-names, but they cost so much more that they still aren’t as good of a deal.
Use coupons. They may seem annoying and time consuming… because they are — but if you want to save some coin, take advantage of them.
DON’T make eye contact with the racks in the checkout section. If you do not want to waste money, look straight ahead when checking out. If not, you’ll spot the candy. It’s buy two, get one free — and a Snickers bar sounds delish right about now. Hell, they’re only 79 cents apiece, why not just do it? Or, those Godforsaken gossip magazines grab your attention. The “Best Celebrity Beach Bodies of 2012” is virtually impossible to resist, plus exclusive rumors about Will and Jada’s marriage? Yeah, why not cave and buy one?
Learn proper etiquette. Also known as common decency. If you have a shopping cart crammed full of groceries, and the person behind you has a single pack of gum, be generous and let them go first. Surely you can allow them to get their 20 second transaction out of the way, before beginning your much longer one.