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Solo living: Grocery shopping

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Twenty Something

WHEN living solo, one of the popular challenges is saving money without having to look like you're depriving yourself of your basic necessities. When you decide to live solo, you must understand the proper budgeting of your time and money, as well as the "life hacks" to get more out of your money.

Solo living is paying your own bills, cleaning your own room, scrubbing your own comfort room, and doing your own groceries.

I've worked in the merchandising department of the one of the supermarket brands in Mindanao for nearly two years and let me share with you some of the "life hacks" I learned working there. These will save you time, energy, and money. Hope you find these helpful

1. Write a list before you leave your house.

This may be very simple but many do not do this and just grab items from the grocery aisle that they would remember needing at home. At times, they would wander the entire supermarket, going through every aisle checking and trying to remember what it was they needed at home. Having a list does not only save your time and energy but as well as your money making you stick to priority items only.

It also helps if you're familiar with the layout of the supermarket -- where the wet market is and how far that is from the detergents, biscuits, or noodles. You can organize your list according to their placement in the supermarket (non-food to food) so you don't go round and round the entire store wasting your time and energy.

2. Don't do grocery shopping while you're hungry.

You might have heard of this tip once or twice and this is actually true. This advice complements the first tip. When you go to the supermarket hungry and not sticking to a particular priority list, chances are you're going to grab snacks and other food items from the shelves which you don't actually need, just crave.

Maybe you can schedule your grocery shopping right after you have eaten at home. If that's not possible, just stick to your priority list.

3. Do non-food first, then perishables lastly.

The explanation behind this is simple: When you do the fresh meats, fishes, frozen meats, and yoghurts and other chilled dairy products last, you give it more time in the chiller/freezer versus having to put it in your grocery cart first and roam around the shop scouting for non-food or packed food items.

Grab the perishable items last, just when you're about to proceed to the cashier so the items spend less time away from the freezer/chiller.

4. Items at the far end of the stack are better choices.

There had been videos or memes circulating around showing how Asians do grocery shopping. Instead of getting the first fresh milk or biscuits on the shelf, it's believed that Asians go for the one displayed on the back end.

Most supermarkets do the FIFO -- First In, First Out -- of the items which means, if the merchandisers are responsible enough for the products, they first display the stocks that came first in the store so it depletes first.

Check for the manufacturing and expiration date to see for yourself. Usually the items most accessible to the customers are the earlier stocks.

5. Watch out for near expiry/buy one take one and other promos.

There are three main reasons why brands offer their items for buy one take one: (1) they will expire in about two to three months; (2) they need to deplete the old stocks asap to give way to new variety, new packaging or just plainly deplete it already; (3) introduction/seasonal promo.

Usually, the brands that do this are the suppliers of imported products. They spend a long time traveling from other countries to your area and by the time they arrive, they are sometimes two-to-three-month near expiry. To deplete, they offer it for buy one take one. It's not a regular thing but it always happens.

At times, supermarkets also have seasonal promos in line with local fiesta. Other times, they do bundle promos as well. If you have a grocery store you frequent, it's good to take note of these dates and promos because you will be sure to save a few peso.

TIP: Other stores give you discounts when you shop using an eco-bag, whether or not a plain one or those that came with their logo. This is very sustainable as you're not only helping save the environment, you're also saving money!

TIP: Free taste areas are a fun experience also. You get to taste items before they're officially released in the store.


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