When people hear how little I spend a week on groceries ($55-85) to cover my husband and myself (and any guests we get throughout the week), I always get asked
- What do you buy?!
- Are you just cheap?
- Do you only get store brands?
- Do you have enough food?
We buy lots of stuff…junk food, healthy food, brand names, store brands. We always have enough food for the week, and usually we have left-overs for me to take for lunch the next day. We are cheap. We’re tightwads. We semi-plan before we go to the store so that we kind of know what we need. That’s step 1.
Jen’s Basic Steps:
- Basically know what you need before you get to the store. This doesn’t mean you have to take a list or that you can’t just decide to pick up those new chocolate chip cookies. But if you don’t know what you need, then you’ll forget something AND maybe spend money on something you already in your pantry. I just take a quick look right before I leave. Am I low on milk, mental note…didn’t like that salad dressing…buy new dressing.
- Know how you shop. Do you organize by food type? Frozen foods, canned foods, fruits and veggies. Do you have your grocery store aisles memorized? I organize by meal. In every aisle, I mentally go through what I know I need for the week to make what I want. This goes back to knowing what I need before I get there.
- Plan your meals. This step also goes right back to step 1. Some people cook everything for the week on Saturday. Others make 30 meals in 2 days and then freeze them. One way is to have the Spaghetti every Monday, Tuna Casserole every Tuesday, etc. If one of those works for you, GREAT! They don’t work for me. I come up with 4 or 5 meal ideas that I would like to make and then check the pantry for what I already have.
- If you don’t shop at a low price store (Walmart, Aldis, etc), join the grocery store’s price club. Often, you can get Walmart-like prices without ever facing those crowds. At Kroger, it’s just a minute to fill out the “application” and the little card goes on your keyring.
- Check your store’s price match deals. Many grocery stores now compete by matching the advertised deals of other grocery stores and Walmart. Be a little wary of dollar deal stores — that Hunt’s spaghetti sauce for $1 is really only 87-97 cents at Walmart.
- Don’t forget the coupons. I don’t use them often, but if it’s something I haven’t tried or a 3 for the price of 2 deal, I’m not above getting out my scissors.
- Try the Store Brand at least once. I can’t stand one store’s shredded wheat cereal but their pizza pockets are ten times better than the name brand. Some store brands are even manufactured by the Brand Name company and just given a different label, so you get almost the exact same product for a fraction of the price.
- If you hate crowds, shop weekend mornings or weeknights.
Be on the lookout for other shopping tips. I plan on adding a section on what I buy each week and how that translates into meals.
Feel free to add your own shopping and grocery planning tips. Is there something that really works for you? I need to know 🙂 I’m always revamping my routine, trying to find the perfect, efficient way to get in, get out, and get cooking.