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How to Make Grocery Shopping Less Intimidating

How to Make Grocery Shopping Less Intimidating

Adulting is undoubtedly difficult, but one thing that is harder than expected is grocery shopping. How do you know what all you need for the week? Is name brand all that different from store brand? Why is buying organic so much more expensive? It can all seem really overwhelming but you can make it a lot easier on yourself with a bit of guidance.

First things first: what do you need for the week and what are your food habits? If you snack more than making whole meals then you may want to focus your list towards items that you would find in the snack aisle. If you make meals, I would suggest meal prepping if you’re only cooking for yourself. Buying a quantity of food that will only be enough for one portion is nearly impossible unless you buy exclusively from a bulk foods store. If you stretch a prepared meal for a few days to a week, you can buy from a regular grocery store, save yourself the time it would take to cook everyday, and you have food portioned out that you can reheat and eat as desired. I am a meal prepper myself, but I still have my designated snacks and assorted teas that I like to sip in the evening.

Now that you have your meals and/or snacks selected for the week, you need to make a list. I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to make and stick to your list. Veering away from your prepared list is setting you up to spend way more money than you intended. Another money trap are name brand items. When it comes to food items, there usually isn’t a huge difference in quality when it comes to store brand vs. name brand items. If you’re buying staple items like sugar, salt, flour, cereal, or even snack items I would recommend buying store brand items if the price difference will save you a good amount. When it comes to organic items, my budget tends to have the final say if an organic item is more expensive. When it comes to produce specifically I tend to buy conventionally grown produce. According to Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., author of How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, fear of adverse effects due to pesticide use should not discourage people from eating plant foods. 

Another tip if you are on a strict grocery budget is to use the app or website of the grocery store that you frequent. Use your list to fill your cart on the website to get an estimate of what you will be spending before you actually get to the grocery store. Be aware that most stores mark up their online items to compensate for curbside or delivery fees so if you can stay in budget using the site, you are sure to stay within your budget when you purchase your groceries in person. 

All of us will come into the task of adulting in our own time but there’s a little help to get you started is always welcome. Grocery shopping is a complex task that can require money management, planning, and possibly time management but it’s incredibly simple once you get the hang of it. 


Lauryn Ewens

Agnes Scott '22

Lauryn is a junior at Agnes Scott College and is majoring in English Literature-Creative Writing. Lauryn is from Houston, Texas but is enjoying the quaint charm of Decatur. When she is not in class or studying Lauryn enjoys writing, reading, and watching movies.
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