As I wrote about Thursday, Tim and I just began a new family budget plan to help us continue working toward our savings goals. One of those areas we saw room to save money was in our grocery shopping budget. I always make a meal plan for two weeks at a time, and then make a grocery list to correlate with the meals. However, the number of ingredients needed adds up quickly and some of the more elaborate meals can really make a dent in the budget. When I look for recipes to add to the weekly meal plan, the ones that catch my eye first are those that aren’t just the quickest, but also are the ones with the least amount of ingredients. To sum it up: the fewer ingredients needed the better. We are also going to try and improve on the number of impulse buys we make. I am sure many people can relate to these types of purchases. My husband’s biggest struggle seems to be in the chips and snacks aisle, and my kryptonite is the health food aisle: almond flour, chia seeds, protein powder etc. can add up very quickly! We hate to give up the things we love, so we are going to attempt to be more selective and try to only purchase what is on our grocery list. There is no reason why these fun items can’t make the list, but they shouldn’t go in the cart unless they are written down. Cutting down on impulse buys is key.
I also only meal plan the dinners for two weeks, because my family’s breakfasts, snacks and lunches tend to be the usual staples, like:
Breakfasts: Oatmeal, Cereal, Eggs
Snacks: Fruit, Greek Yogurt and Cereal or Granola, Protein Shake, Peanut Butter, Almonds
Lunch: Sandwiches or Dinner Leftovers
Since we basically eat the same thing for these meal times over and over, all of the above ingredients typically make the grocery list every time we shop without even having to think twice. Dinner though is always planned since that makes it easier for me to know exactly what I need to buy ingredient wise at the grocery store, allows me to mix-up the meals instead of always sticking to the same basics, and takes the guess work out of asking ‘What’s for dinner tonight?”
For example, here is our dinner plan for this coming week:
Monday 03/04 – Ground turkey and marinara sauce, spaghetti for Tim / spaghetti squash for me, and broccoli
Tuesday 03/05 – Leftovers (Probably this recipe I made Saturday)
Wednesday 03/06 – Turkey, Swiss and apple quesadilla
Thursday 03/07 – Turkey sausage, kale and white bean soup
Friday 03/08 – Black Bean Soup
Saturday 03/09 – Leftovers / TBD
Sunday 03/10 – 3-Cheese Lasagna
After doing a quick inventory of what we had in our cupboards, refrigerator and freezer, I looked for the recipes that utilized many of the ingredients we already had purchased. I then began to build our list of the items we needed and also took into account coupons we had and looked at the store’s weekly advertisement for additional sales. After all was said and done, for two weeks worth of meals including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and drinks, our bill only came to $96.59 after storewide sales and coupons. Here is what we purchased:
Protein: Eggs, Egg Whites, Chicken Drumsticks, Split Chicken Breasts, Deli Sliced Turkey, Turkey Sausage
Frozen: A mix of Steamfresh frozen veggies including items like Sweet Corn, Brussels sprouts, Green Beans and Edamame
When the groceries are all laid out, our trip seems pretty successful and includes quite a bit of items for roughly $100. Here are some tricks that I find helps us to keep the final bill down:
- Join the Rewards Program at your grocery store, (If one is offered). This is how we save the majority of our money. For example, we saved $23.00 yesterday just on store-wide savings by using our Kroger Plus Card. We also saved another $4.00 using coupons that Kroger sends to us through the mail. These are my favorite coupons to use since they are geared to the things we buy all the time like produce and items at the deli counter.
- Store Brands are your Friends. Don’t be afraid to buy store brand items, especially canned good and dairy products if you do not solely purchase organic. This is a great way to save a ton of money and most of the time the items taste the same, or can even taste better. Store brand items also seem to be on sale more often than the name brand versions.
- Make a List. Planning your meals and making a list is key. If you go into the store without a plan, it will be difficult to pass on the items you don’t really need. This also allows for the ability to cut down on wasting food, because you are more likely to eat everything purchased when each item has a particular purpose for a meal.
- Look for Manager’s Specials. They may be called something different in your grocery store, but these sales are awesome. If you look in my veggies picture, you will see that the spinach and spring mix both have Manager’s Specials tags. This does mean you will have to eat these items faster since they are nearing expiration, but these two items cost more than 50% less than the original price. Besides, buying these items forces you to eat your veggies, so why not purchase the cheaper version when available?
- Avoid Impulse Buys. Enough said. Impulse buys can easily cause your bill to rack up right before your eyes. Be selective in your purchases and try to buy only what’s on your list as often as possible.
- Shop the parameter of the store. You have heard this before, but shopping the parameter of the store can save a lot of money just by avoiding those middle aisles. The pre-packaged items are where the costs really add up, as opposed to fresh veggie, fruits, and dairy.
- Shop Less. We try to go only once every two weeks since it really forces us to eat what we have, which eliminates wasting food. Plus the less you go the store, the less often you will be tempted with impulse buys and treats.
I hope today’s post provided some insight into how we grocery shop and how we plan to keep saving money every time we go. My goal was to also show that it is possible to buy healthy foods on the cheap. Eating light is not always more expensive, and can even be less so when not eating a diet filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients, and cheap fillers. There is always room for splurges, but make those choices absolutely worth it and fill up the rest of the time on fresh fruits, veggies, and other healthier items.
Talk to Me!
- What is your favorite grocery store? Does your store offer a Rewards Program?
- Do you meal plan and make a grocery list before shopping?
- What are the staple items in your house that are purchased every time you go to the grocery?
- What tricks and tips do you have for saving money at the grocery store?