Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Smart Woman's Tips to Grocery Shopping

1. Always go with a shopping list
A shopping list not only ensures that you do not forget the stuff you really need, it also keeps your shopping trip disciplined. Do not get stuff that are not on the shopping list. Those are usually the things you don’t really need but suddenly have a craving for either because of promotions or the attractive packaging.

2. Walk the perimeters of the supermarket
The fresh and minimally processed items are usually located on the perimeters of the supermarket. Where do you usually find your chips, soda, cookies and frozen dinners? The middle aisles! Avoid them!

3. Avoid hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup
If you are a super busy traveler and need to have at least some canned food or store box items at home, please buy only those that are free of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup. Hydrogenated oils are the culprits of trans fat and they are evil. High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. It is also an excellent source of empty calories i.e. a long time suspect of obesity and thus, high blood pressure, heart disease and other obesity related ailments. There are a lot of healthier options out there today. Take a little time on your next grocery shopping trip to read the ingredients. It will pay off big time in the long run.

4. Buy leafy vegetables that have been washed and cut
If washing vegetables have been keeping you from making more of your own meals at home, try buying them ready washed and cut. It can cost slightly more in terms of dollars and cents but it’s definitely cheaper and healthier than eating out. For me, I usually buy my spinach and mushrooms washed and cut because they take me the longest time to wash and cut if I do it myself. Buying spinach washed and cut makes it so easy for me to add my much need leafy greens (i.e. iron) to my breakfast omelet and soups. Plus, they are not a whole lot more expensive. For other more sturdy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, squash etc., I typically just buy them as is and wash and cut them myself when I get home. I usually buy a big stalk, wash, cut and put them in a Tupperware, enough to last me for a few days. And making my own meals after a long work day is no longer a chore!

5. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season
Fruits and vegetables in season are usually cheaper. This is probably less evident in tropical countries where fruits and vegetables can literally grow all year round. But in more climatic countries, knowing the seasons of your fruits and vegetables can sometimes help you save a lot of money. Plus they taste better in season too!

6. Stock up on frozen fruits and prawns when they are on sale
By virtue of their frozen state, these foods keep longer. Therefore, don’t be shy getting another bag of frozen prawns if they are on a mega sale and use them over the next 2-4 months. This is especially for those of us who are single and living alone.

I added this after getting a really good comment from Anonymous. Not all seafoods are good ready-frozen. Prawns are ok but fish is always a no-no for me. Ready-frozen fish will never taste fresh so don't do it!

7. Coupons, coupons, coupons
I know there are people out there who are embarrassed to use coupons. To be honest, I can’t truly appreciate why because I am the “coupon girl”! Woohoo! Well…I don’t spend my hours looking for them or lose my composure over them but I do take full advantage of them. There are cool websites like and where you can print out manufacturers’ coupons for use at any grocery store. Or try the newspapers or the local grocery store flyers. You will be amazed how much you can save. If the coupons are for a brand that you do not normally use, take that chance to try something new!

8. Look out for generic brands and always think price per unit
Many large supermarkets now have their own house brands of almost anything from toilet paper to canned tuna and tomatoes to potato chips. These items are usually manufactured by the suppliers of some of the same well known brands but are a lot cheaper. So in other words, you are not necessarily giving up quality for less money. But it takes a bit of trial and error over time to understand how much you can substitute.

9. Avoid peak hours such as after work and Sunday mornings
How many times have you notice yourself spending more time at the checkout counter than zooming down the aisles and getting the things you need? If this is happening to you all the time, then you are not shopping at the right time. Avoid the peak hours and save those precious time for more enjoyable activities. Unless you are like me who likes spending a couple of hours checking out new stuff at the grocery store every week. ;)

10. Always bring your own grocery bag
Even if we don’t take about the whole green thing and being environmentally friendly, it’s always a better idea to bring your own grocery shopping bag for a couple of reasons. They are more often than not more comfortable and easy to carry (there are some you can even sling over your shoulder) than plastic bags. Second, some stores now charge extra for bags. Third, all right all right, it’s good for the environment.


Anonymous said...

I bought some frozen salmon. Big mistake! They taste so so bad.

Kelly said...

Oh yes....NEVER buy ready-frozen fish. Frozen prawns are ok but always buy them from a supermarket or fishmonger who has a lot of traffic in the store to ensure that you always get the freshest seafood. When I do buy my fresh salmon and keep them in the freezer, I never keep them longer than a week.