*iStock photo
*iStock photo

Christmas is a very busy and expensive time of year and grocery shopping can be a big part of the holiday expenses. But grocery shopping is also an expense that can be controlled with proper planning.

This year, before you stock up on all the food that you think you will need to get you through the holidays, read the following tips.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead can help you have a stress free Christmas. Take the time to plan your holiday meals and any additional entertaining food needs. Do not go overboard with your plan and remember to factor in left-overs into your menu planning. 

Be sensible about what you can afford and plan accordingly. Use a calendar to help you track what food you will need for when.  

Do a list of food and divide into perishables and non perishables. The non perishables can be purchased early, a little each week to help spread the cost, and put them away until you need them.

 Make sure to put them away somewhere will you will not be tempted to use them before Christmas. 

Mark the dates on your calendar for purchasing perishable food items and do not buy them too far in advance — you want to avoid spoilage. Do not forget the extras you will need such as foil, foil tins, napkins, trimmings etc.

Have a budget

Grocery shopping is one of the biggest expenses we have. Prepare a budget and stick to it. 

Prepare your shopping list while you are at home and start by taking inventory of what’s in your fridge, freezer, cupboards or pantry to assess what you will need. Avoid buying items that you will not use in the near future. It’s good to remember that grocery stores are places of high impulse shopping. Take the list to the store and stick to it.

Don’t shop hungry 

When you grocery shop on an empty stomach, you tend to pick up a lot of things that you really don’t need. 

Everything looks good when you are hungry and your mind will trick you into believing that you can use it all for your holiday feasts. 

Leave the children at home 

Unless your children are trained not to harass you in the grocery store, leave them at home. 

Most often children will pester you for things that are not on your grocery list and you will more than likely give in after telling them no repeatedly. 

Remember, Christmas is a time of the year when all of the ‘Christmas’ goodies are on display — it is all packaged attractively and displayed all over the store so that you can barely avoid the temptation to buy.

Look high and low 

Grocery stores rarely randomly place items on shelves. They have a strategy. Items at eye level are usually from those companies that have leverage, and more importantly, money to stock their products in the perfect place. 

Take a few minutes to check the shelves above and below eye level — you may find the same things by different brands, cheaper. Remember; take the time to plan your Christmas grocery shopping before heading out to the grocery store. Check your freezer and cupboards first because you can probably use some of what you already have at home and do not wait until the last minute to shop. 

Remember, buy what you need and can afford, Christmas is an expensive time of year and groceries shopping does not have to be expensive if we plan, budget and shop realistically. 

Honey Adams Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.