When you shop at the grocery store, don't fly through the aisles and rush to the cash register. Comparison shopping for the best product with the most favorable pricing can save you lots of money without sacrificing on the quality of food. Here are some tips on how to make the best out of your shopping trips.
Prepare a Shopping List
It is always a good idea for you to pre-plan you shopping trip. Write down the "must buys" and the "want to buys" as they show up on your mind. Go through your kitchen pantry and your refrigerator one more time to double check your shopping list before you leave for the grocery store. This way you can avoid accidentally leaving out things you need to buy. Keep in mind to replenish on staple foods before they completely run out.
Look for Sales
One benefit of pre-planning and comparison shopping is to save on budget. Grocery stores generally hold weekly sales on specific items. Large grocery chains publish weekly circulars. These are sometimes delivered to your mailbox or they are available for pickup at the store entrance. Pick up a flyer to see if they have items you want on sale. If you're not picky about a specific brand, getting a sales product that is comparable in reputation can be a smart money-saving move. Some products are "buy one, get one free" or discounted when you buy in bulk. In this case, it may be worth your while to stock up on these items, even if you still have some left at home. If there are items on sale that are out of stock, remember to get a rain check for later.
Check for Expiry Date and Food Packaging
Never buy things that are close to expiring. Always check the tags for freshness indicators like "best used by," "sell before," "use before" and "expire on." Give yourself at least one week before the date marked on prepackaged bread and baked breakfast items, and two weeks for dairy and egg products. Other items may have a longer shelf life, but you should buy the product with the latest expiry date. For the items packaged by an in-store bakery or deli, check to see that the product was made on the same date of your purchase.
All canned, bottled and vacuum packed items should be completely sealed. Check to see if there is any leakage in the bags or if the safety bottom on the bottle caps is in place.
Check for Freshness and Quality
When you shop for fruits and vegetables, take the time to pick the best ones on the racks. Check for plumpness, weight and brightness in color. Avoid the ones that have dark or rotten spots, molds or other types of damage. For prepackaged fruits and vegetables, look through the clear plastic or nylon bag to make sure that all contents are in great condition.
Freshness of meat and seafood is even more important. These high protein products are extremely susceptible to bacterial infestation and can easily carry food-borne pathogens if they are not stored correctly. Only buy fresh meat or seafood if you plan to eat them on the same date of purchase. Otherwise, it is much safer to get the frozen ones instead.
Remember to shop for refrigerated or frozen items such as meat, seafood and dairy after you have gotten everything else. This way they are out of refrigeration for the minimum amount of time.