We are just a few short weeks away from a major holiday that’s all about being thankful and grateful for all that’s good in our lives, like family, friends, food, shelter, clothing, health, and much more. Oftentimes, it’s easy to take the simple things in life for granted, but Thanksgiving Day encourages each of us to take a step back and pause and fondly reflect and remember all of the things we have to be thankful for.
What comes to your mind when you think about Thanksgiving? It may be surrounding yourself with those you love and care about most, volunteering at a food bank, enjoying the entertainment from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or watching football all day. Still, there’s usually one big thing we all probably have in common when thinking about this particular holiday: FOOD!
The traditional Thanksgiving feast that fills up our plates and our bellies consists of delicious foods like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, corn, macaroni and cheese, gravy, cranberry sauce, and, of course, all the mouthwatering desserts (looking at you, pumpkin pie and warm apple pie).
It's no secret that all those delectable foods are the stars on Thanksgiving, but with how prices have skyrocketed on those dishes and all kinds of foods in general (and honestly, pretty much everything else), it has left many of us dreading simple trips to the grocery store on any normal day of the week.
Don’t let these soaring prices scare you off too much, though. We’re here to help you make the most out of your grocery store shopping trips all year long with these great tips that are intended to help you keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
Plan your meals out ahead of time and set some ground rules for yourself before you shop. Here are some ways planning meals and snacks out ahead of time will make it easier on you and your wallet:
Make a grocery list: Before you jet off to the store, take inventory of everything you’ve already got in your refrigerator, freezer, cabinets, and pantry. You may be surprised at what you’ve got hiding in plain sight and can count on making a meal or two with items you already have, which means less spending at the store. From there, plan out your remaining meals and make a list of ingredients you still need to feed your family for the week, or that holds them over until the next time you need to shop. Plan to shop for cost-effective meals and snacks that’ll go a long way (leftovers for lunches the next day are always a nice bonus!). Take stock of your personal household items, cleaning items, and toiletries you may need as well. You may even consider buying in bulk at big warehouse stores to really get the most bang for your buck.
Set a spending budget: Whether you have to go to one store or four separate stores to get everything you need, set a spending limit for yourself and stick to it. This will help you to avoid impulsively buying things you don’t need and spending money you may not have accounted for.
Shop the sales: After you’ve got your list, check out the stores you’re planning to shop at and see what sales and specials they’ve got going on. Check out store flyers for coupons or browse the store’s website for online/digital coupons to save yourself a few extra bucks.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach: Food shopping while hungry can be dangerous because you’re practically begging to stray from your list. All of the tempting foods you see can lead you to put way more items in your cart than you had anticipated.
*Pro-tip for Thanksgiving shopping: Start shopping now! While some items will have to wait until the days leading up to Thanksgiving, you can get the majority of your shopping done now. It may come as no surprise that the day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for supermarkets. In fact, you’ve probably witnessed it in your life at least once before, especially if you’ve forgotten a key ingredient and all of a sudden find yourself scrambling to make one final trip to the busy store before all the cooking commences. So, to avoid all the craziness and to ensure that the more sought-after items are still in stores, shop for turkey day as early as possible.
One of the easiest ways to save money is by shopping around to locate the best deals. Grocery store sales happen everywhere, and often, so don’t limit yourself to simply shopping at one store. Stores compete with one another to present consumers with the best sales, deals, and discounts in hopes that they stay top of mind and get crowds to keep coming back. I’m sure you’ve got a wide variety of grocery store options in your area, so get a feel for other stores and observe their offerings to see what kinds of preferred items they carry and what they’re priced at over their other competitors.
While going from store to store may require a little extra time and effort, you may discover that you’re getting a better deal, which will save you more money in the long run. And in this current economy, saving money (no matter how much or how little) and lining your pockets with extra cash could prove to be well worth it.
Give these tips a try next time you’ve got to go to the store and see what you end up saving:
Shop at dollar stores for cleaning and household items
Compare prices and deals at supermarkets like ShopRite and Giant versus superstores like Target and Walmart and see who offers better deals on the specific items you’re in need of
Shop local and visit farmers markets and butchers
Calculate and compare unit prices so it helps you know and understand exactly how much of the product you’ll get for the money you spend
Buy in Bulk
Stock up, stock up, stock up—I can’t stress this one enough. Though you’ll be paying a higher price when checking out at the cash register, buying in bulk has its fair share of benefits.
Buying in bulk allows you to stock up on your food and household supplies with just one trip to the grocery store, rather than making frequent weekly trips. Plus, less trips to the grocery store equals less money spent on gas driving there and back and gives you more spare time back to do whatever you want to do.
You can buy everyday bulk items at the neighborhood grocery store of your choice or shop at large wholesale clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s. Buying large quantities of quality items at a pretty decent price per pound could end up lasting you a few months. What are the best items to buy in bulk, you ask? Smart bulk buys include cereal, pasta, rice, canned soups, veggies, sauces, flour, sugar, paper towels, toilet paper, batteries, laundry detergent, and more. So, if you see a sale on any one of those items, I’d say it’s probably a good time to buy and stock up.
Take Advantage of Store Rewards
The majority of grocery stores nowadays have some sort of free rewards card, points card, or discount card. These cards are designed to help you earn points and/or receive discounted items as you shop. Plus, they help you stick to your shopping budget while saving money in the meantime.
If you don’t already have a rewards card and you’re presented with the option at the cash register, then you may want to opt in for one so you’re able to receive all the items offered at the sale/discounted price. It can work to your benefit, especially if it’s a store you visit frequently. In most cases, the cashier will ask for your card or phone number associated with the account, but to ensure you always get the available discounts, make sure to have your rewards card right with your source of payment.
Get Your Shop on!
Now all that’s left to do is hit the stores and get your shop on! Be sure to keep your GOLD Debit or Credit Card handy for all your shopping needs.
Happy shopping! And from all of us at GOLD, we wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!