Yes, you can. And you should.
That’s an easy one, right? Buy in bulk, go for the “3 for 5” promos, look around the store so that you don’t miss the good deals.
No, no and no. Actually, those three are the ones that make you spend more money even though they look like easy tactics for smart shopping. Here’s why and some tips that will really help you optimise your groceries budget. Last but not least, we give you a working tool to achieve a zero-waste household where everything you buy is used and consumed, not thrown away.
Do not buy in bulk short-term goods
Buying large quantities of food does not make sense on multiple levels even if it looks like a good deal. If it is something that has a short shelf life (veggies, milk, meat, fish, bread and the like), chances are high that it will go bad before you have eaten it.
It has happened to you more than once, we can bet. The truth is it happens to almost everyone in the developed countries, every day, all year round. Thus the striking statistics come to live – European and North American consumers throw away between 95 and 115 kg food a year according to FAO. It is roughly a meal a day. That much!
As for the chocolate bars, you know better than to have a box of chocolate in that “emergency” drawer. It disappears three times faster than you thought it would, then you feel guilty, then you feel fat, then you go to the dentist two months prior to your annual check-up.
Actually, the ‘feel fat’ part is sort of an euphemism because chances are you are not feeling, but rather being fat. Recent statistics says 20% of UK citizens are obese, meaning that one in a household of 5 members is overweight. To all the factors triggering this trend in the last decades, shopping habits stand along with the lack of exercise and junk food consumption. The more food you buy, the more ‘motivated’ you are to put it in your mouth, hungry or not.
There is also a whole other side to buying in bulk that is not subject to discussion here but is quite a relevant point to the argument. Large quantities of anything, perishable or not mean that you have to go to the supermarket with a car, then you have to carry the shopping to the apartment, then you have to have big storage space. It takes a lot of time, money and effort than you do not put into the calculations, but it’s right there.
But how much to buy?
Big shopping spaces, bigger shopping carts, 64 rolls of toilet paper in a single pack – all these have twisted our perceptions of how much food and household goods we actually need to survive. We go to the store and everything in there shouts that we have to leave with at least a month’s supply of everything. No, we don’t. These are marketing tactics used by supermarkets all over the world to fool your better judgement. But there’s an easy way to strike back the supermarket empire.
Find out how much you actually need and keep your shopping in control. The first step to achieving this is to start looking at how much food is consumed in your household. “I do know that” you might argue, but experience shows us that what you really know is what stuff should be bought to make a mini replica of the supermarket at home. The tough question is not so much about what, but about how much. The solution for achieving the what-and-how-much balance in your shopping habits is really simple – do a list and stick to it.
Just that? Yes, but not a paper one. Only an intelligent digital list can help you with monitoring your consumer habits and refining your buying needs. CogZum app alerts you when you plan to buy something in a larger amount than necessary (ex: the app tells you that last time you threw away half of it because it was spoiled and makes you reconsider your purchase).
3 for 5, 10 for 10…it’s a trick, not a treat
These strategies are ages old, yet they still work and still trick you into buying something just because on a first look it appears to be quite a deal. The keyword in the last sentence is look. The promo prices are usually with bigger and brighter price tags. What your initial glance often misses is the single unit retail price that in many cases might actually be lower than the promo price. Yes, they do it. Yes, you are that easily deceived, so you must really look closer. Another thing you might not know is that specials and promo deals are usually placed on those shelves that are on eye-level. Making an extra effort to move your eyes lower or higher will give you a better sense of what the average price of a single ketchup bottle is.
Again, the simple solution is checking more your (digital) list with things to buy rather than letting your eyes be distracted by the so-called ‘wobblers’, ‘shelf-talkers’ and all sorts of point-of-sale marketing baits.
Take your time vs. rush through the store
Allocate the whole Saturday morning for grocery shopping, jump in the car and enjoy a no-rush 70 minutes walk through all the aisles to find the best products for the lowest price. Then enjoy a whole shopping-free week afterwards. You want that peace of mind, don’t you? Not really, we argue and explain ourselves right away.
Time and money spent in the supermarket are closely related. The more you wander around, the more stuff goes into the cart. That’s a no-brainer. The time and money saving alternative are to pay shorter but focused trips to the store. If you have a 20-minute window between the time you leave the office and the time your train leaves, you’ll just storm the shop and get only what you need without the unnecessary idling around.
Is all that feasible? Sure, as long as you use a smart technology like CogZum that navigates you through the store and makes shopping with a list dead easy. It is designed so that your shopping list not only tells you what to buy but also where to find it in the store. Supermarket sections are color-coded and you see your shopping list divided the way your typical grocery store is organised. How do we know how your grocery store is organised? Because they are all designed in a similar way forcing you to explore as much of the space as possible.
When you have a precise list, divided into supermarket sections, shopping can save you both time and money even if you do it every single day instead of once or twice a week. If you are sceptical about that we challenge you to use CogZum for two weeks for frequent shopping and then go for a CogZum-less single long trip to the market and see for yourself.
Here’s a final bonus tip – if you are to do your shopping with a phone in your hand to tap and click on items (and there’s nothing strange about that), we strongly advise you to put your headphones on as well. Why? Because supermarkets intentionally play slow music, thus subconsciously influencing you to stay longer and buy more. You can beat them at their own game by listening to your own music instead. The faster it is, the better.