Remember how excited you were to see your receipt after using coupons for the very first time? Thrilled with just how much money you saved by spending only a few moments with a pair of scissors and the paper?
Coupons are a no-nonsense, proven way to save money at the checkout. Or are they?
Let’s take a look at the six most common grocery shopping myths and some simple solutions you can use to bring your bill back down to size.
1. It’s always cheaper to shop with coupons.
False. It often is, but not always. Store brand products and unadvertised specials are sometimes cheaper.
Solution: Be flexible and compare prices.
2. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier than frozen
Not true. The moment a fruit or vegetable is picked it begins losing nutritional value. The longer that item sits on a store shelf, the less valuable it is to your body.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash frozen after they’re picked, a process that preserves nutrients no matter how long that bag of goodies resides in your freezer.
Solution: Buy fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market (and only those that you plan to use in the next few days) and purchase frozen alternatives for meals later in the week.
3. Always stick to your shopping list
Not always true. Creating a shopping list can help you focus on foods you need to restock and stay clear of impulse buys, but it’s not always cheaper to do so. Many stores have unadvertised bargains that are well worth the momentary lapse of shopping-list discipline.
Solution: Use your shopping list as a guide, but be flexible. Don’t pass up a great deal if it’s staring you in the face. You may spend a little more than you were planning to today, but you’ll make up for it the next time you shop.
4. Bigger is always better
False. Chain stores brought with them a whole new way of shopping that embodied the “buying in bulk” philosophy. The basic idea is that it’s always more economical to stock up and buy more than what you need. The problem is that it’s not always cheaper.
Solution: Start reading grocery store tags and calculate the best price per unit and per pound. Store brand products and sale priced items in smaller packaging are often cheaper than bulk buys.
5. Buying a whole chicken is cheaper
Not quite true. If you’re an amateur butcher, buying a whole chicken means bringing it home, rinsing it, hacking it up into usable pieces, storing the pieces for later use, and cleaning up. It’s a lot of work and most often, unless you’ve had some training, your chicken pieces won’t look anything like the portioned serving sizes professional butchers produce.
Solution: Buy a whole chicken on leisurely weekends when you have the time and energy to invest. For regular usage, purchasing chicken pieces when they’re on sale is most often cheaper and less time consuming than investing in the whole bird.
6. You should only shop once per week
Not always true. There’s something to be said for going to the store with a list and doing all of your shopping in one trip. If the grocery store you frequent is not within walking distance, you’ll at least save gas money by sticking to a once-a-week shopping routine. However, if you buy a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, it can actually be less expensive and far less wasteful to make more than one trip to the store during the week. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk means that some of those items may go bad before you have the chance to use them.
Solution: Use fresh items in the order that they will spoil. Buy only what you can use in the following two to three days and don’t be afraid to invest in frozen foods or make a second trip to the store for fresh items.
Doing away with old thinking and embracing a little flexibility will help you maximize your dollar each time you shop.
The Top 6 Grocery Store Myths is brought to you by SaveBrite.com.