Grocery Shopping: Weekly Circulars

I remember being so excited, as a kid, to check the mailbox every day after I came home from school. There usually wasn’t much mail for me, of course, but I liked picking up the bundle of advertisements, bills, and pre-approved credit cards, hoping that maybe one day there’d be something addressed to me. As I grew older, I did receive more mail – but I continued to ignore the weekly grocery ads that appeared in our mailbox.

When I started my post-college life in New York City, I found the groceries to be ridiculously expensive. Sure, I could go to Trader Joe’s once in a while – but the average price of food in the city was shocking to me. Luckily, my office in Long Island City had a nearby grocery store called Key Food (a chain throughout the boroughs), and I started to make a habit of checking out the weekly circular that it posted on its website. I’d type in my zip code to locate my nearest grocery shop, then browse through to see what sale items I wanted to buy from that week.

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Key Food Circular (via Key Food Website)

There are three reasons I really like using weekly circulars or ads to guide my grocery shopping:

  1. It (obviously) saves money. The items listed on the circular are on sale for that week(s), so if some of those items were once you’d usually buy anyway – especially those pantry goods like spaghetti or canned tuna – this is an awesome time to stock up and to save yourself some money for later on.
  2. It inspires my cooking menu for the week. I like to pick out foods from the circular and use them to decide what to cook. If I see, for example, that ricotta cheese is on sale, then it’s more likely than not that lasagna is somewhere in our near-future (this is always a good thing, because I love lasagna). Sometimes, I also use it to try out foods that I usually don’t buy – I’ll try out a different veggie like brussel sprouts or maybe a new type of yogurt I’ve never had.
  3. It helps me to create (and stick to) a shopping list. When browsing the circular, I create a mental list (and a physical list, when I’m not lazy) of what it is that I want to buy when I go grocery shopping. As they say, it’s best to create a list before you go shopping so that you don’t go crazy and impulse-buy everything – using the circular is a great way to build up your shopping list while saving money at the same time.

As a final, added bonus, using the weekly circular on a regular basis makes it fun for me to get the mail again. It’s like I’m getting mail that I can use, consistently every week, without even having to ask for it. After all, it may not be addressed to me…but I’m certainly going to use it!

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