Grocery Shopping Hint

When your groceries are being packed at the checkout line, be sure frozen items are bagged together to help keep them cold. Put them in the freezer as soon as you get home.

Pick your day. Decide when you like to shop best. If crowded markets freak you out, avoid shopping on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Some folks think the slowest days are Mondays and Tuesdays.

Take inventory. Be smarter than the average shopper who tends to buy what he/she already has at home. Keep track of what you have in stock. There are several websites with printable templates, but we like the easy-to-customize version at You can also categorize your own list by store departments.

Create a must-stock list. Cross-check your inventory with common pantry staples and note which ones you're missing and where you're running low. Having a well-stocked pantry eases meal planning so that you always have dinner on hand.

Go slow to go cheap! When creating your weekly menu, use your slow cooker to cook inexpensive meats. Try using the slow cooker at least once a week. It will save you time, preserve your sanity, dishes and money!

Keep impulses in check. Shopping with children can be hazardous to your shopping bill. Combat the impulse purchases kids often beg you to make by including two child-friendly snack and cereal options on your list. Once in the store, let the kids decide between the two. They'll feel as though they're participating, which may limit their begging.

Coupon alert! Before you go shopping, attach applicable coupons to your list to remind you which brands to purchase.

Bring your own bags. Better yet, start keeping several reusable bags in your vehicle. Some stores even knock a few cents off your bill if you bring in your own!

Go team! Before entering the store, give yourself a parking lot pep talk. Repeat this three times to yourself: "I will stick to the list." Some thing that people who don't have a list on hand typically spend 40 percent more!

Organize a meal plan. Habits are the key here. At the beginning of each week, figure out what you will need for your dinner meals as well as lunches and breakfasts. Make a shopping list based on those meals.

Pay attention to your mood. You've heard it before: don't go grocery shopping when you are hungry or cranky. You'll likely spend more on impulse items. The same is true if you are in a great mood. Be aware of how your mind-set may have an influence on your purchasing decisions.

You might not lug a giant cookbook to the grocery store, but you wouldn't think twice about bringing your smart phone, tablet or portable e-reader, for that matter. More than a convenient way to double-check ingredients, space- and time-saving digital cookbooks make searching for recipes easy.