Smart grocery shopping tips

By Jennifer Chappell Smith

Grocery shopping expert and food blogger Amy Whiteley, mother of two, has a plan every time she steps into the grocery store.

“With a toddler, I don’t have time to spend hours shopping,” she says.

She also cooks for others as a part-time job, so cost-efficient meals help her bottom line. Want to know how she does it? Here are Whiteley’s top strategies when hitting the aisles:

Shop late for meat

Ask for butcher specials. “They want to sell you the meat,” says Whiteley, who sidles up to the butcher counter around closing time to ask what’s on sale. “If you’re going to cook it or freeze it, you can get some amazing deals,” she says.

She typically walks away with ground beef for 99 cents a pound.

When frozen, certain meats last longer than others. Just a few expiration guidelines include:

  • Raw ground beef and turkey: three to four months
  • Cooked meats: two to three months
  • Pork loins or chops: six to 12 months

Circle the store

Shop the perimeter of the store. Most stores place produce, meat, and dairy aisles on the edges.

“The convenience foods are in the center, and they can cost extra,” Whiteley explains. She swings by frozen foods for a few veggies — cheaper than fresh ones but still nutritious, and strolls through the condiment and baking aisles, too.

Cautious coupon cutting

Use newspaper sale ads but limit coupons. The sale ads can help you save, but it’s easy to fall prey to what Whiteley calls “coupon clutter” and overspending on unneeded items.

Take inventory

Look in the freezer, fridge and pantry and you’ll be surprised at what you find, Whiteley says. From there, develop a plan and have the discipline to stick with it. If not, you end up buying unnecessary items and your grocery trip ends up costing more than expected (or wanted).

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