There was a bleep on Facebook lately about the phycology of shopping, grocery shopping in particular. It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but it was a good reminder. I worked for a food wholesaler non profit that helped small producers get their product into grocery stores, Its not an easy task for the little guy. Big corporations pay slotting fees. Basically, they pay rent for the middle eye level shelves. People naturally gravitate for easy. Looking up and down can save you money because those products are not paying slotting fees to pass on and they usually have a smaller profit margin.
Retailers bombard you with visual and stimulate your senses. They try to cloud your sense of need and want. The trick is to have a good picture in your mind of what you are going to the store to buy, and not to give on to the "want" . It helps that you are buying to replentish your stock rather than to put together meals on the fly. It keeps you more in focus, It also helps to avoid taking children or husband's shopping with you.
It's no accident that the junk foods are the first thing you see . It's designed to get you to start putting things on your cart. It's also no accident that there are huge carts these days. I get the huge carts at Costco, otherwise when you buy toilet paper there would be no room for anything else. LOL
Knowing their dirty little tricks to get you to buy more is your first defense in avoiding the pitfalls and staying on budget. The more time you spend on a store, the more you are going to spend. The more people you bring with you, the more you are going to spend. It helps if you do have a family member with you to divide and conquer . divide and conquer-- giving part of the list or something you don't know where to find it to that person. It saves time and creates focus rather than let that pickle, candy, beer.....fall into the cart! Men are hunters, women are gatherers.
Because of the slotting fees, the item you need may be in the front of the store or on the impulse isle, but it very well might be cheaper in the regular isles. Case in point, The more carb loaded hamburger bins were 2.40 in the impulse isle one day , the smaller more sensible ones were on a regular isle for .68. A big difference when you are in a limited budget. That 1.70 would pay for the rest of the meal-- or at least the meat to fill the hamburger.
The perimeter of the store has the basics. This is virtually every store you go into. It's because they are more perishable and need stocking more frequently. Produce, dairy, meat, and bakery. All have more stocking or require handling that is done behind closed doors. Don't go down isles unless you need to. The isles are marked almost everywhere but Costco. You can save time and avoid impulses if you just avoid the isles. That candy can't just jump onto your cart! Studies show of you touch a product, you are more likely to buy that product.
The big one .....
Stores have big sales to get you in the store. Their premise is to get you in the store and get you to buy all your groceries at that store. Beat them at their own game. Buy the things that are on sale and don't buy the things that are over priced. Have you ever noticed that if hamburger buns are on sale, the hamburger to go with them is not ? It's a trick. You don't have to buy into it. That's why spending the time to go to two stores is to your advantage. Pick two stores that are close to each other. Next best thing is to pick two stores that are close to other places you have to go on a regular basis -- the gym, the kids soccer practice, the doctor, work, grandmas house.......whatever works.
Two stores give you the best sales of two stores and the best selection of produce. Produce has the
biggest mark up of the necessity foods. Pick it carefully and don't overbuy. You can blanch and
freeze or dry some things that are not going to be used up fast enough.
Do some research. In our area , Fred Meyers and Winco have the best prices normally. But, it's not good to be complacent , sometimes other stores have good sales. Find your two best stores based on price. Don't base your grocery stores on the friendliest clerks, or the most fancy, or the variety of specialty foods. You want your store to be clean and have the best prices.
Big packages aren't always the best thing. The price is good sometimes, but sometimes it is not. Bring a small calculator or see if you have one in your phone. Many times they have a price per ounce and it's hard to compare bulk to a can or package. The biggest difference you can make in budget savings is to know the lowest price for the things you buy on a regular basis. Paying a premium price for that can of cranberry sauce you use once a year won't hurt too much; but, overpaying for that can of diced tomatoes you use every week, can really hurt.
Our average ticket is 30.00 or less. I can get in and out of a store in 30 minutes or less. I shop for three of us. Naturally, of you are shopping for a big family, you will spend more time. I watch a lot of grocery hauls. The majority of the hauls that have h u g e tickets, have a lot of liquids and junk food and individual packages. It's a good thing to avoid, it jacks up your bottom line a lot. I can't wrap myself around a three hundred dollar grocery haul. Everything you need will eventually be on sale sometime. Rarely does a necessary item not ever go on sale. Picking the right time to buy enough product to last until the next sale is paramount in keeping your food bill the lowest possible.
If chicken is .88 his week and it's a very low price, forgo something else and buy two. Next week, buy more of the thing that you didn't buy. You will be money ahead. You spend less because you don't ever pay that dreaded F word... full price.