by Mindy Hermann, R.D.
(NAPSA) - Before heading out on your next grocery store visit, consider these top 10 tips that will help streamline your trip and maximize your time:
"Create two shopping lists, one for must-have foods for the week and the other for staples that you keep on hand all the time," suggests Judy Dodd, R.D., L.D.N., an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh. "When you run out of a staple, add it to the list."
Take a few minutes each week to scan through circulars for coupons. Plan the week's menu based on foods that are on sale and/or in season; add these menu ingredients to your list.
Then, when preparing meals, make a double-size batch and freeze half (date and label). With a well-stocked freezer, your shopping list will be shorter and you won't have to shop as often.
Stock up on foods that you and your family eat during price cuts and "buy one, get one free" offers. Avoid impulse buys.
Plan your big shopping trip during off-hours, such as early in the morning or in the evening while a popular television show is airing.
Choose your market based on which one has the foods that you need during that shopping trip; for example, a well-stocked salad bar, ethnic ingredients or fresh baked goods.
Buy the largest size of fast-moving, everyday items. I usually get the biggest box of Whole Grain Total so that I don't run out as quickly.
Avoid aisles with items that are not on your shopping list or that might be tempting.
Shop the perimeter of the market, where you'll find produce, dairy, meats and bakery breads.
Bring your reading glasses.
Q: Are large packages always the least expensive?
A: No, sometimes smaller packages on sale cost less, especially if you have a coupon. I always compare the unit price (price per pound) before automatically grabbing the biggest box or package. Also, a larger package can cost you more if you don't finish it before its expiration date.
Mindy Hermann, MBA, R.D., is a nutrition writer for women's, health and fitness magazines. She is the co-author of "Change One" and the American Medical Association's "Family Health Cookbook."