Grocery Shopping: Tips to Save Time and Money

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Simran Ahuja
Simran Ahuja
Simran Ahuja is an independent journalist from India, now based in Denmark. She has contributed to prominent publications including The Hindu, India's National Newspaper, and the New Indian Express, writing about all things food, art, culture, and lifestyle.
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Practical Tips for Efficient Grocery Runs

Are you tired of spending too much time and money on grocery shopping? Join the club! But fear not, we’ve got you covered with a few game-changing tips to streamline your grocery runs without sacrificing quality.


Time and money are probably the two most important resources a person has. Yet, I seem to spend far too much of both on the simplest task: grocery shopping. To some, visiting a grocery store must be mundane. To me, it’s magical. I am almost always just one recipe away from having my life together—or so I like to believe (I’m what Gen-Zers and millennials might consider ‘delulu,’ i.e. delusional).

Life is short, but my grocery bill is not. So, I had to look into ways to stop spending excessive time and energy on this task, without reducing the joy of it all. It’s still a work in progress, but my tote bags are getting lighter each visit!

I wish I could dole out perfectly tried, tested, and vetted advice. I am still trying to figure it out for myself, but if you are looking for a starting point, these internet-approved tips might help:

Set a Clear Budget and Stick to It

Budgeting Brilliance: Keeping track of how much you spend on vegetables or other staples will make you less likely to go overboard. Visibly seeing the number spent on your weekly/monthly grocery runs is great for figuring out an average budget to stick to.

After doing this for a few weeks, I started to get a rough mental figure of how much I needed per week. If I saw an increase in my usual weekly budget, it meant it was time for me to look at my cart again to weigh needs vs. wants. This mindful shopping meant when I would splurge, it was a conscious decision to do so.

Whether you jot them down in a handy notebook, a notes app, or a handy budget planner, staying mindful of your expenses will help you make smarter choices while shopping.

Fuel Up Before Heading to the Store

Shop Smart, Not Hungry: Never visit the grocery store on an empty stomach! If you are feeling hungry, you’ll likely end up buying many more things than you actually need. A full stomach equals a fuller wallet, as you’ll be less likely to splurge on unnecessary items.

Avoid impulse buys by munching on a snack beforehand.  A helpful hack? Keep an easy snack in your bag; I’m a huge fan of these Muesli bars. A quick snack might also help you focus more on being strategic about your groceries.

Exploring Meat Alternatives for Savings

Meatless Marvels: If there’s one thing that can drastically alter your budget, it’s meat. Not to villainize meat, as it is a major protein source for many consumers, so there’s no need to cut it out completely. However, delicious meat alternatives like lentils or grains can cut costs without sacrificing protein.

Try out new recipes and discover budget-friendly meals like lentil lasagna or chickpea salad that will satisfy your taste buds and your wallet. Check out Pick Up Lime’s budget, protein, and meal-prep-friendly recipes here (which balances out to $2 per meal).

Leveraging Bulk Buying for Discounts

Bulk Buying Bonanza: Take advantage of bulk deals on pantry staples with long shelf lives. If you want to buy bulk fruit and veggies, have a plan to freeze or use them promptly; otherwise, buying those items in bulk can be wasteful. Stock up on essentials like coffee, legumes, rice, oatmeal and dried pasta to save money in the long run.

And remember to also not hoard too much, there will always be deals and offers. Items you skip during this grocery shopping trip, means you can get them on the next trip instead.

The Value of Generic Vs. Store Brand Products

Store Brand Savvy: Don’t overlook store-brand alternatives to popular products. Often, they’re just as tasty as the name brands but come with a friendlier price tag. Compare prices and taste-test your way to savings!

If eating clean and organic is a priority for you, be sure to compare the ingredient lists. You may be surprised to know that generic brands can contain fewer chemical additives and more whole-natural ingredients than their name-brand counterparts.

A Budgeting Strategy That Works

Cash > Cards: Consider using cash instead of cards for your grocery purchases. Physically parting with your money can make you more conscious of your spending, helping you stick to your budget and avoid overspending.

You could also make it a challenge to not spend more than a certain amount. This is another great way to balance needs versus wants and what can be bought now versus later.

Remember, finding the perfect grocery shopping strategy takes time and experimentation. As you navigate the aisles, give yourself grace and flexibility to see what works best for you. Happy shopping!
Quick Tip: Bookmark this page for easy reference next time you’re gearing up for a grocery run!

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