30 September 2011

Arrrrgh! Those Changing Aisles are Costing You Money!

One of my pet peeves with supermarkets is the constant re-arranging of the aisles.  Yes, they provide store maps at the service desk but that's no help when you "know" the layout and breeze in, ready to do your grocery dash, only to find you can't find a thing and need to spend time trawling the aisles to find the things on your list.

I'm not sure the supermarkets would admit it but they re-arrange their aisles for that exact reason: they want you to trawl the aisles.  The longer you are in the store the more you'll spend. And the more you have to search for items the more you'll impulse spend.

Well two can play at that game. I say let them re-arrange the aisles.  We'll just grab a store map and re-arrange our shopping list to suit. Then we can avoid the aisles we don't need to visit, not be tempted by all the goodies we see and still get in and out in under the crucial 30 minutes.....

I've noticed over the last couple of years that the order of the aisles doesn't quite make sense, well to me anyway.  I would think that all the baking supplies would be together, but that's not the case.  Yes, the flours are all together in the one aisle. But then I need to go into another aisle to find the coconut and dried fruit.  A nifty little organizing ploy to keep you wandering the store, seeing all those "too good a deal to pass up" goods in store.

To win the supermarket game you need to shop with a plan (and a store map).  It still pays to stick to the old "shop the perimeter". Around the outer edges of most supermarkets you'll find the real food. Fruits and vegetables are usually right at the front as you walk in, followed closely by the bakery and the deli. Then the meat cabinets are along the back wall, with the dairy cabinet up the far side. Close to the dairy cabinet you'll find the freezer cabinets.

The centre aisles are usually dedicated to the pretend food aisles. You'll find the processed foods: chips, lollies, biscuits, packaged meals, casserole bases etc. in these aisles.

Years ago, when I was just starting out on this frugal shopping lurk, I made myself a little guide (OK, a list in the front of my price book) to my supermarket so I could stick to the shopping list, which I wrote up in aisle order.  I only had $50 a week back then to buy all our groceries - food, cleaning products, toiletries and baby needs so I had to get the very best value for my money possible.

Buying fresh fruit and veg in season, on sale and in quantities we'd use before they went off all went a long way to keeping the grocery bill down.

Staying out of the cleaning aisle also had a huge impact.  Using ordinary soap, white vinegar and bicarb soda combined with a little elbow grease eliminated  the need to buy commercial cleaning products. This is when I started to play around with laundry detergent and decided the "gloop" recipe I was using was just too much work and came up with the powdered version. I'm still using it, 17 years on (and enjoying the savings).

Avoiding the deli and making our own lunch meats and nibblies has saved us a fortune over the years.  Cooking a piece of silverside and slicing it for sandwiches is easy and a fraction of the price of buying it.  Buying a whole or half ham on the bone and doing the same saves around 60% on deli prices for sliced or shaved ham and roasting a whole chicken and shredding the meat not only saves money, but gives me the carcass to use for stock - an even better deal.  There's no waste and the meat is always fresh, something else I like about beating the supermarkets at their own game.

These days shopping like this is habit and I can't imagine not making every grocery dollar stretch. Actually it's easier than ever because I can jump online and get the prices so I know exactly how much the grocery shopping is going to cost, no surprises at the checkout.

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