This week for Wednesday Wisdom: 6 Great Tips for staying organized (and taking advantage of online resources and phone apps) to help you save money at the grocery store from SavvySugar.
6 Ways to Stay Organized When Grocery Shopping
- Keep a list. Lists are always crucial to organization, and just to make sure you don't forget anything or buy unnecessary items, document your weekly grocery needs. There are plenty of ways to do so — you can keep your own Google Doc, a text document, or a simple notepad. There are even free printable grocery lists online that let you check off which groceries you need. A good one to check out is the very detailed Ultimatest grocery list (they even have a vegetarian version).
- Use apps. Experiment with grocery shopping apps and consider keeping a running list of groceries on an app like Ziplist, which lets you sync up with lists of other people on your phone for convenience. You can even use discount-seeking apps like Grocery Pal, which shows you what items are on sale, and coupon locator apps like Coupon Sherpa or Yowza!!. The coupon apps will display bar codes, which the cashier can scan to give you the discount.
- Time it well. Pick the right time to go grocery shopping. You want to avoid going when there are crowds, because shopping and waiting in line for the cashier may take longer than usual. It's also good to go before the supermarket rush because most items will be in stock; this will prevent you from having to go back if a certain item was not available. The best dates to shop may differ depending on the grocery store, so be sure to observe your supermarket and pick up the crowd patterns. Lifehacker suggests Wednesday night as an ideal time because "many grocery stores release their new sale advertisements that day but also honor the sales items from the previous week." Personally, I like going on Saturday nights to avoid the crowds.
- Find a nearby grocery emergency spot. If you forget a few grocery essentials, make sure you have a backup plan if there isn't a supermarket near you. This is so you don't have to waste gas and make another trip. Consider alternatives such as a drugstore, dollar store, or retailers like Target. You have to be smart about which items you're buying because the quality of some groceries may not be up to par or they can be priced higher.
- Have a revolving list of meals. It's good to have a couple of go-to meals, which makes it easier to grocery shop because you'll be familiar with what you need. It's also helpful to create a monthly or weekly meal plan so you can better anticipate your grocery needs. There are a couple of free menu planning templates available online — here's a simple four-week menu planner I found on Simple Organized Living.
- Organize your coupons. Keep your coupons neatly organized by purchasing a coupon organizer ($10). There are plenty of methods to organizing coupons, and you need to find one that works for you. Figure out if you want to sort the coupons alphabetically, by category, or by expiration date. Coupon Geek has a nice list of organizing methods you might want to try out.