Food is expensive. We all know that, and it’s only getting more so all the time. So with that in mind it surely makes sense to take a thrifty approach to our grocery shopping? Well, I’m going to assume that you’re still reading, and responded to that question with a loud, clear “Hell Yeah!” Here are my five top tips for keeping that grocery bill under control.
1: Eat before you go food shopping. Going food shopping on an empty stomach is a really silly thing for anyone to do. Hunger taps into your reptile brain in a way that makes you want all the food in the world right, frikkin’, now! And grocery stores know this. That’s why they smell so often of fresh baked bread, a scent which, I guess, taps in to the bready doughy centre of our brains. So don’t go shopping hungry.
2: Be very careful before you buy anything that’s in a stand away on its own. these are usually “Special Offers”, often only being special for the company selling them that is. Look selling anything is a science. And the people who study that science know that we’re programmed to go after the lame member of the herd first. You know, the animal that’s standing away on it’s own, trailing well behind the herd, because that’s the one we’ll expend the least energy killing. So something standing out on its own in a shop is going to be “Special”. Sometimes these are genuinely good buys. But often they’re a “new” product, which is in fact an old product in new packaging, at a higher cost, for less.
Which leads us nicely to…
3: Pay attention to the price by weight part of packaging. Here we’ll use toilet roll as our example. There are two packages of toilet roll. Four rolls per pack, but one pack is 5% more expensive. Which should do you buy? Well you don’t really know until you look at how many sheets there are per roll, and work out the price per sheet. The same goes for buying most other things which we tend to buy in bulk. In fact the same can be true of buying just about anything. Whenever you can find out the price by weight, it could save you a lot in the long run.
4: Try to buy special offers, which really are special offers. Super Mega Frikkin’ Euro Stores is having a special this week on a your regular washing powder. Buy 5 boxes for the price of 3. Do you buy it? Or do you think to yourself “How much washing powder do I really need? And then I’ll have to carry it home, and store it, and the cost…nah I’ll just get the one pack.” WRONG!
Look, in my first article in this series I spoke about rounding up your weekly budget slightly to build up “just in case” money. Well this is one of those just in case situations. The fact is that if a special offer appears on something which you use constantly, which is a genuine bargain, then get it. You WILL use that washing powder. You WILL work your way through all that toilet paper. You WILL use all that dry dog food, unless scruffy runs out in front of traffic, in which case you can use it to pebble dash the back yard wall. So be smart, if it really is a bargain for you, then buy it, and save yourself some money in the long run.
5: Don’t shop for everything in the same place. Humans are at heart lazy animals. We’re all the descendants of a species which, barring special exceptions (the Da Vinci’s, Columbus’s etc) has lived by the creed “If there’s nothing needs doing, then do nothing.” Which as all dog owners know is the rule most adult dogs live by, and is I believe the source of the harmony which exists between our species. They like to chill out, and so do we. But if you have to live a thrifty life, you don’t have the option of the lazy route.
Sure, your fresh fruit and veg are cheapest in shop A, but fresh meat is cheaper in B, and cleaning chemicals are best bought in C. The problem is that it takes time, and effort to shop in all three. Your conscious brain says “I’ll save 20 Euro’s if I spilt my shopping.” your lazy primate brain is saying “Ya, but we could be home 45 minutes sooner to watch The Big Bang Theory, while our puppy is all cute, and snuggled up against us.”
Don’t listen to the lazy monkey brain. Let’s make the savings even more modest. You save 5 Euro’s on your weekly shopping by splitting it, and because the shops are close enough together it only costs you time. That’s 260 Euro’s a year. Or in another way of looking at it, that’s a really nice Xbox for Christmas.
Now ask yourself, this…
What would the (adorable) Master Chief do?