At my house, Friday is grocery day. And because I really dislike grocery shopping, I try my hardest to make it as quick and painless as possible. This means that I do a lot of planning before heading to the grocery store, and that I work hard to save money on groceries each week.
I usually stick to the same stores when grocery shopping, because I know the layout and can get in and out quickly. I also follow the layout of the store when making my shopping list. But the real savings comes with being organized and thinking about what we really need – and this is how I do it.
- The more processed your food is, the more it is going to cost. This is why, for the most part, I only shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. I begin with produce, then head over to the meat department, dairy and frozen food aisles. Not only do I save a lot of money by opting for whole foods with real ingredients, but my family also benefits from eating less preservatives, sodium and unpronounceable ingredients.
- I make a lot of the food that we eat at home. From yogurt and pasta, to artisan bread and macaroni and cheese. If I can make it at home, and it isn’t extremely difficult, then I will.
- We pay cash for all of our grocery purchases. So, when I head to the grocery store, I only spend the cash I have in hand. If I find something that is a super good deal, and I want to stock up, then something else has to give. I can’t spend money that I don’t have.
- I make my grocery list in order that the items are in the store. The less time I spend wandering around, the less likely it is that I’ll make an impulse purchase or buy something that we don’t really need. Staying focused is key.
- As crazy as it sounds, I hardly ever use coupons. I tried couponing for a while, but most of the coupons I find are for processed foods that we don’t really need. By using coupons, I ended up with a cart full of junk food and snacks, but no real food. The way I see it, I save more money by NOT using coupons.
- I plan our meals a week in advance, and use that as a basis for my shopping list. I add in the foods that we’ll need for breakfast and snacks, and items that I need for The Goose’s lunch.
- I shop around. I have a regular grocery store that I frequent for regular groceries, but I shop at the local fruit market for fresh, in season produce. I also shop at Sam’s Club, buying a lot of our food in bulk like flour, shredded cheese, milk, sour cream, and large bags of frozen fruit. I can get a 5 pound bag of mango chunks for less than $10 – there is no way I’d be able to get that much mango that cheaply at the regular grocery store.
- I buy individually packed pretzels, crackers, and fruit snacks for The Goose’s lunch. Like my tendency to avoid coupons, this also sounds counter-intuitive. But this is why I do it – because if I were to buy a full size bag of pretzels, crackers, or fruit snacks and bring them home, they would be gone in two days. My family can’t control themselves when it comes to snack foods – so I don’t buy them.
One thing to remember, is these rules are not set in stone. If The Goose asks for chips, I will happily indulge him. (He likes the Doritos in the red bag). If my husband wants some Nutter Butters, I happily indulge him, too. As for me – I always get a Starbuck’s as soon as I walk in the door. Everything in moderation, right?