5 Grocery Shoppings Tips and Tricks to Help You Stay on Budget
Perhaps one of my favorite homemaking topics is always about grocery shopping and budgets! I don’t know why, but this conversation always inspires me to see how I can change my ways or it sometimes even makes me proud of being able to keep our grocery budget near the amount that we tend to.
Everyone has different ideas of what is a “good” grocery food budget and that is okay because every family has different needs and wants. Honestly, there’s no right or wrong answer here in terms of budgets and where to shop - but there’s always some handy tips to share with one another.
I have found that these tips (some that are widely known tips) really do help with sticking to a clear budget and without getting distracted by extras.
1). Discover your budget. See what you’ve been spending each week on your groceries and you should be able to see a common theme in terms of budget. If you feel like your average spending is somewhat higher than expected, challenge yourself to spend $20 less on your next grocery trip and then work your way down from there. I always love a good challenge!
2). Make a LIST (and actually remember it). Making a shopping list is crucial. So crucial! I have found that I spend much, much less on groceries when there’s an actual list to shop from. The best way to create your list is to first shop from your pantry and fridge. Shop there to see what you have and don’t have and create your list from this. Plan your meals accordingly and check the status of snacks and essentials so you don’t overbuy. Try to write your list in categories for the store so you can get what you need all in one section and not forget anything.
3). Shop the parameters of the store. Or buy less boxes. Yes, you have probably read this somewhere once before and perhaps you have even tried it. It is very helpful to stay away from the center of the store where all of the boxes and processed food is lurking. This is where you see things that catch your eye and make impulse buys, or where you buy things that are filled with horrible ingredients. I strive for a healthy shopping cart and for me, I usually judge this by determining if there’s too many boxed items in my cart. The more the boxes, the less healthy my cart becomes and the more it tends to cost.
4). Make a meal plan. I find this to be a huge help when going to the store. I don’t know how some people do it, but I know some people go shopping without any meal plans made up. I simply can’t live my life on the edge that much. I have to go to the store knowing exactly the meals I am purchasing for. And let me share my tips on how I do this!
Make a four meal plan. I always plan and shop for four meals that I know I will more than likely make soon.
A couple of the meals may have contain frozen veggies or things that won’t necessarily go bad right away if we have a change of plans and don’t get to cook.
Always have a back up meal in the freezer that is easy like a frozen pizza, Trader Joe’s frozen Stir Fry or something that you can easily whip together such as homemade tacos or soup. This is handy if you get a last minute baby sitter for date night or if you had a bad day and don’t feel like cooking.
Think of meals that may correlate and take care using all of the produce. For example if I buy plenty of fresh produce for soup, I can use whatever produce I have left for a homemade stir fry so nothing goes bad. I always need improvement in this area, but if you can work on it this is super helpful.
Write and shop for everything that goes with that meal including side dishes.
If you need to cut your budget back, strive for a Meatless Monday meal.
5). Come home and prep. I have found that less fruit goes bad in our home if we come home and wash and prep them and store them in glass tupperware. This makes my fridge cleaner looking, more organized and makes my fruit ready to grab and eat! I’m more likely to eat it this way before it starts going bad.
These are just some basics to help you get your grocery shopping on track. I’ve been asked before if we meal plan, and yes we do. Our meal plans are not always set in stone, but if for some reason we decide to go somewhere instead or we get takeout, most of our food can be placed into the freezer and I’ll just cook produce as various side or lunch meals before it goes bad. Having a four meal plan helps prevent me from constantly having to run to the store for things that I forgot.
I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong way to grocery shop - there’s just whatever works for you with some ideas that others can share to encourage you to stay on budget. Personally I love Trader Joe’s for staying on budget because their products are SUPER affordable for organic groceries and there’s no extra impulse buys there for me. Wax-Mart pickup is another great option because you can actually see and edit your cart before you buy. This has helped me stay on budget many times!
What are some of your shopping tips? Drop them below in the comments and let’s help each other out!