Even though food shopping is one of my least favourite errands, there is a certain pleasure I get from hunting down the best deal. Guess who’s not ripping this girl off today? We usually do our food shop as a family at our local 24-hour supermarket. It’s something to get us out of the house when the kids wake up at a quarter to dawn. We live life in the fast lane.
But there is much to love about the online food shopping experience. Firstly, you get to do it while sitting down, one of my favourite things. Not to mention the bonus features that scribbling your shopping list onto an old envelope doesn’t have.
The fringe benefits: You don’t have to spend an hour denying your children everything they’ve ever wanted. You don’t have to put on a bra. You can stare off into space and/or start crying spontaneously without freaking anyone out. And, most importantly you can drink wine.
Online shopping websites are getting more and more user friendly but it’s good to know how to make the most out of it.
Perhaps one of my favourite features is the function for saving recent shops, so you don’t have to go through the same process again every week. You can simply upload a previous shop, remove anything you don’t need this time and add anything new.
The real trick is to make the most out of your money. Aside from the money you are saving by not driving your car anywhere, there are savings to be had in your shop too.
BUY THINGS ON SPECIAL
Most online supermarkets now have a ‘shop from the catalogue’ option. This allows you to take advantage of any specials and avoid paying full price. This is a great opportunity to buy in bulk too if it’s an item you use regularly.
Most popular items go through a rotation and will be discounted sporadically. If you are able to purchase in bulk at the lower price, you may be able to hold out until the next special period. Unless you know someone on the inside, there’s no way of knowing when things will be discounted. However, if you can avoid paying full price for your regular purchases those savings add up.
I like to buy nappies in bulk when they are on special. If I get around 4 boxes of nappies at the cheaper price I effectively get the fifth box free. I like that.
If you buy something that is rarely discounted don’t be afraid to try another brand. Even if you find you don’t like it at least you tried and saved a few pennies. But usually there’s at least one other cheaper brand that’s going to be just as good.
We buy the cheap nasty cling wrap and the cheapest toilet rolls. For us those items just never seem to improve with branding. I will always wind up stuck in the cling wrap, and the toilet paper will always wind up…well never mind.
The reality is, some higher priced items are just jazzed up to look good but don’t offer any extra quality. Try lots of different brands until you find one that works well for a price you like.
We now buy one of the cheapest laundry liquids and our clothes smell great and come out fresh and clean. I think we spend about $5 a month on laundry liquid.
INSTORE VS ONLINE
Sometimes when you shop in store an item you want may be out of stock. When you buy online, someone has to package that item up for you no matter what the shelves are doing.
What might not be available on a store shelf will in all likelihood be available to you in a warehouse somewhere. A store may not always put everything they sell on physical display.
Even better, you don’t have to be the one to go find it.
Going to a supermarket has it’s own charm, but there are a lot of people out there in the world. If you’re anything like me, you regard most people with great scepticism.
How many grimy children licked this fruit? Why is there a limp lettuce leaf in the bottom of my basket? Why is there only one register open with a thousand people lined up at it? Has that guy followed me down every aisle?
And I really don’t like those self-serve machines. I get it. It’s supposed to get you in and out faster and remove the hideous inconvenience of talking to another human being. But why do they make the bagging area so small?
Once I’ve put the nappies on there it’s full up. So I start putting things back in the trolley. Then I forget which items I’ve scanned because I’m a prize idiot, and start trying to scan things I’ve already put through.
Then my son starts trying to ‘help’, and I forget what kind of apples I bought and have to go hunting through the database for a picture that is ‘close enough’. Just writing this is giving me a rash.
I almost made a scene at Kmart when I got stuck in a loop with a demonic self-serve kiosk. Place item in bagging area. Unknown item in bagging area. Place item in bagging area. Unknown item in bagging area. Place item…WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, SATAN!
The thing that’s not obvious about supermarkets is that they’re geared to make you spend. And in the interest of saving money; don’t.
Everything from what you see as you first enter the store to how items are placed within the aisles is designed to get you to buy stuff. Everything that’s placed at eye level is there on purpose. Anything placed at the end of aisles with massive signage is to get you to grab it before you even enter the aisle.
Often an aisle is laid out so that a common everyday item that everyone needs is at the far end and you have to walk past everything else to get to it. Ever wonder why milk is always along the back wall? How many displays do you look at just to get 2 litres of milk?
When you shop online, you have more power over what you have to see. Of course there’ll still be advertising but it’s easier to control and far less subtle.
So in summary, here are the basics.
1) Look for the specials first and buy in bulk if possible.
2) Try a variety of brands to get the best value.
3) Eat a meal before you food shop (full stomachs rarely over purchase).
4) Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t buy stuff you don’t really want or need just because it’s being waved in your face.
5) Put on your pyjamas, pour a glass of cab sav, and try doing your food shop online.