UNITED STATES—I’ve discussed this issue in the past, but I have to continue to discuss it as I think its level of importance is much bigger than people are willing to acknowledge. Purchasing groceries for the household can be expensive. I’m someone that keeps my receipts for almost everything that I purchase. I like to utilize that to put a blueprint on the face of things: where I’m overspending and what are actual necessities.

First, I’m someone who believes that you don’t have to do all your grocery shopping at one place. I know this is something that many people refuse to acknowledge, but sometimes you have to. Why? It is very rare that a supermarket chain will have such a great sale that you can get all the items for your pantry, cabinets, refrigerator and freezer, without going over budget. If one is lucky, you might come across such a sale, but you should not keep your fingers crossed for this to happen.

So this is when looking at those weekly flyers (to the stores that still deliver those in the mail) to see who is going to provide you the biggest bang for your buck. If there is a farmer’s market or local produce shop that tends to deliver the biggest bang for your buck, it’s never a bad idea to purchase all your fruits and veggies from that location.

Next, when it comes to dry goods and meats, the options are endless. I have come to appreciate bulk warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco, where there is sometimes a benefit to purchasing meat in large quantities. Why? You receive a discount and you can always freeze meat that isn’t being utilized for a later date. No dry goods, I would purchase those items at the local supermarket.

Unless you have a massive family, similar to the tune of those on the TLC hit “19 Kids and Counting” purchasing 40lbs of potatoes may not work out as planned for the family. The worst thing about groceries is allowing something to go to waste.

So here is a piece of advice that I have recently grown to acknowledge: just because something is on SALE does not mean you have to buy it, if you already have plenty. I have done this on several occasions with eggs, milk, and lunchmeat, and I find myself in a situation where I have to toss out items that have molded or gone beyond its expiration date.

Now, I’m going to deliver the biggest piece of advice when it comes to grocery shopping: shop alone! Yes, some tend to shop with children, others tend to shop with significant others. This is a bad idea and I’ll tell you why? Nothing annoys me more than when a person just chooses to toss items into the grocery cart that may not be on your list or that they have no intention of paying for it.  It sends my blood boiling because it is money being spent that perhaps you did not account for, not to mention you run into a situation of possibly going over budget for an item someone wants at the ‘moment,’ but never totally consumes the item.

I always notice when I shop alone the likelihood of going over budget greatly decreases than when I shop with several others, who just add items to the cart along the way without even asking if it’s okay. It’s indeed a double standard, especially if one was to do the same to that person; they’re not too happy about that. I’ll be honest in less than a month I’ve probably spent over $600 on groceries and this is for a family of four! Maybe that is average, but I see that is being a bit more than normal. I mean it’s not like I’m purchasing all organic or gluten free items? Best advice I can deliver when it comes to grocery shopping: utilize a list, shop alone and try to get items on sale to boost your spending power. The more you save the more you can spend later.