How to Buy Food Like an Adult Mastering the Grocery Store and Your Wallet

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After moving into your own place, your first trip to the grocery store as an adult can be confusing and intimidating. The “adults” are no longer stocking the fridge and if you weren’t paying attention to how they did it, you may feel at a loss. Grocery stores offer a ton of options, and trying to decide what to buy can feel like solving a math problem for a class you’ve never taken before. Shopping for food doesn’t have to be difficult, though. You just need a plan.

The two biggest rules for grocery shopping are: never go when you are hungry and stick to the outside perimeter. Going while your stomach is empty makes everything look delicious, and stores put the essentials you need on the edges while filling the aisles with junk food. Avoiding those temptations is key to saving money.

Fruits and vegetables are a quick snack that cost less than a bag of chips and won’t ruin your diet. Likewise, the dairy department offers cheap, healthy options, such as low-fat milk, yogurt and eggs, that provide a lot of nutrition for the money.

For meat, check to see if there is a deli counter that sells specific amounts by request. Beef, chicken and fish are expensive, and you should avoid buying more than you will use. These counters also have special deals that are not often available in the meat aisle.

If you can’t find a good deal there, don’t be afraid to head down to the frozen aisles. Frozen isn’t a dirty word, and those meats last much longer before spoiling. There are even bags of vegetables that can be steamed in the microwave or heated up on the stove.

While avoiding sugary temptation, take a quick trip down the aisles for staples such as oatmeal and coffee. Oats are better for you than bread and come in big packs for just a few dollars, while coffee can be an easy boost of energy in the morning. A few more dollars will get you salt, pepper and all the seasonings you need.

Most importantly, make a list and try to stick to it. Buy enough food to last until your next trip to the store, plan your shopping around specific meals and try to avoid letting food spoil. These simple strategies will make your next trip a lot smoother and far less scary.