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Going to the store with entertaining in mind is completely different from making a weekly grocery trip
How to Shop Fast and Cheap for Any Party
Shopping for entertaining is a completely different ball game. When planning a party, there are tons of budgeting issues to take into consideration (decorations, favors, party activities) that there is little room for error in how you shop for your party food
Finalize Your Guest List
Everything when it comes to party planning and shopping comes down to numbers. Before you do any shopping, menu planning, or grocery list writing, make sure you have all of your RSVPs in. Knowing the exact numbers of guests you’ll have will stop you from over-buying and spending too much.
Consider Your Friends’ Eating and Drinking Habits
Before putting together a menu, think about what your friends do and do not like to eat. If they’re not big veggie eaters, skip pricey produce-based dishes and platters. If you know they prefer wine to beer, stick to buying that beverage instead of diversifying your selection. This will lead to less wasted food and wasted cash.
Put a Menu Together
The last thing you should do for the efficiency of your grocery shopping is go to the grocery store and “wing it” when it comes to your menu. Browsing the aisles aimlessly will lead to impulse buying and additional add-ons that you simply don’t need. Write a menu and corresponding grocery list. When you head to the store, be sure to follow it to the letter.
Shop Your Pantry First
Before you head to the grocery store, make sure that you aren’t buying things that you already have. Browse your pantry and fridge for party staples, such as crackers and chips, jams and salsas, and drinks. But before you rely on that bag of tortilla chips, make sure they’re still fresh.
Browse the Circulars
One of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to shop the sales. To save the most money possible, browse the circulars online or from your newspaper and compare prices at a few different grocery stores. If you’re looking to save time, shop at the store that has the best deals overall on the items that you’ll need. If you’re looking to save money, don’t be afraid to bounce around grocery stores and buy a few items at each place.
To get in and out of the store as quickly as possible and to avoid impulse buys, go to the store by yourself. Sure, company is nice (as is having someone to help you lug all those grocery bags around), but having a shopping partner is likely to cause you to get distracted. Keep your eye on the prize and shop alone.
Put on Your Blinders
Skip Pre-Made and Frozen Foods
Buying frozen appetizers, pre-made deli trays, and prepared salads may seem like great shortcuts to throwing a party (and they can be!) but if you’re looking to shop quickly and cheaply, these items are dangerous. Scanning the deli section or frozen aisles can lead to thoughts of “Oh, that sounds interesting. I’ll try it out!” and will quickly inflate your grocery bill, since these prepared foods are particularly pricey.
Pay With Cash
If you really want to limit how much money and time you spend at the grocery store, pay with actual dollar bills instead of a debit card or credit card. Paying with paper money will keep your budget to a strict maximum and will keep you from picking up non-essential party items.