Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half With 6 Easy Steps
Let me start by saying…. I HATE GROCERY SHOPPING ON A BUDGET! No really… it is one of my least favorite things. So, to combat this, over the past few years, I have come up with strategies and tricks to make it as quick and painless as I could! Grocery shopping on a budget is never easy, but Back in my college days, my roommate and I would shop once a week for real meal groceries on a ramen budget and we would time ourselves! We could get our shopping done in 7 min each by dividing and conquering! SEVEN MINUTES! Well, I guess it would really be 14 minutes since we each did half, but still! I’m pretty proud!
My grocery strategies are a bit different now that I am shopping for a family, but my goal still remains the same: 1. stick to my (tight) budget, and 2. be efficient.
As a fun little test to prove my strategies can really CUT YOUR GROCERY BILL IN HALF, I put my husband up to the challenge. He has long said that I am the grocery shopping queen, so I sent him to the store to do our shopping without following any of my rules below and he came up with a grocery bill of $160! That is definitely more than our budget!! His challenge was to shop for the week in under 30 minutes on his way home from work without looking at ads or coupons ahead of time and without making a list. He broke all of my grocery shopping rules as I cringed waiting for the total! haha! The next week, I followed my rules diligently and my bill was $72! Now, to be fair, I probably would have bought about $10 more of fruit and snacks on a normal week, but we still had a few leftover snacks from the week before. But even counting that, my total comes to about $82. Here’s a little snapshot of the differences in our shopping. We each bought a few comparable miscellaneous items as well like milk and bread, but this is the gist of each shopping trip.
|Brauts with Tater Tots||Hoisin Turkey Meatballs with Rice|
|Meatloaf and mashed potatoes||Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin with Carrots and Potatoes|
|Tortas with Chips||Lasagna|
|Grapes||Cucumbers & Lemons|
|Cantelope||Celery & Peanut Butter|
|Cucumbers & Lemons|
|Frozen Mini Pizzas|
I followed the rules laid out below and came out on top! The grocery shopping queen still reigns! haha!
My 6 “Golden Rules” to Grocery Shopping on a Budget
1. Check sales and coupons
Ok, I think this one might sound a little bit obvious, but I also think it is the most avoided tip out there because it takes time and effort. I tend to shop mostly at Albertsons and our local Super Walmart. I love that Albertsons has an app where I can download all of the coupons directly to my account and when I get to the register, all I have to do is enter my phone number and the deals are applied to my purchase! SO EASY! I definitely recommend looking to see if your local store has a similar app to make it a bit easier on you. And, if you have the time and energy to look through the local ads and do a little searching online, more power to you!
On another note, don’t limit yourself to only looking at the ads! Keep your eyes peeled while you are shopping to spot any additional deals you can find. Sometimes you can find manager’s specials for quite the steal! When I was shopping last week, I stocked up on chicken which had a lower price than was advertised, too! It was such a good find that I grabbed 3 family size packs and stashed them in the freezer.
2. Plan your menu ahead of time
The key with this is to plan your menu while you are looking through the ads and coupons! While you are looking, keep in mind what is on sale and pick recipes/meals that work with those ingredients! If chicken is the best price, then make your favorite chicken recipe, and so on! Last week, I chose to make the turkey meatballs and the pork loin because the ground turkey and the pork loin were both a great price on sale this week, so it helped to keep me on budget! Hubby did not have this advantage when shopping, on his test run, but he did keep an eye on price tags as he was shopping. This wasn’t nearly as effective.
3. Make a list and organize it
Making a list is key to grocery shopping on a budget. If you don’t have a plan written down, you’re much less likely to succeed in sticking to your budget! Planning your menu ahead of time helps you with this step. My biggest suggestion for making your list is to organize it by department. List out the departments/categories on your paper or checklist while leaving space underneath each. I always include Produce, Meat, Dairy, Deli, Bakery, Canned/Packaged Goods, and Beverages as my main categories. As you go through your ads, coupons and recipes, just write each item you need under the appropriate category heading rather than in a sequential list. This makes shopping so easy. When you walk through your store, you can make one large loop stopping in every department and using the corresponding segment of your list. By doing this, you can eliminate forgetting miscellaneous items as you go through an aisle or section and having to go back to it later. This saves you SO MUCH TIME! A precious commodity when you have littles to get home to!
4. Shop for longer periods of time in one trip
Have you ever gone to the store to shop for one dinner as you’re planning something last minute? When this happens to me, it is so easy to spend $30-$40 on that family meal shopping trip. At the time, its only a small bill, but when it comes to shopping for the rest of your week, you have significantly cut your budget! Also, if you’re anything like me, you probably grab a few extra things that aren’t always on your list when you get to the store. Theoretically, if you go to the store less, then you’ll cut down on this type of overspending. I have heard some people like to shop for periods of up to a month at a time, but they come back to the store for quick spoiling things like milk. But to me that sounds like it defeats the purpose! For me, the sweet spot is 1 week. I like to shop every weekend for the full week’s groceries. It’s easier for me to manage, and I can restock things that spoil quickly without having things like milk or produce go bad before my next shopping trip.
5. Don’t shop hungry
When I grocery shop hungry, I lose all self control! haha! Suddenly, I can’t tell the difference between wanting the pizza bagels or absolutely needing them! Everything looks and sounds good when you’re hungry, so it is easy to over shop and forget to look at price tags. 2 very dangerous things! I think Hubby’s trip is a pretty good example of this. Per my instructions, he shopped on the way home from work, right before dinner time, so he was pretty hungry and bought more snack foods than we would normally opt for.
6. Take your time
When you’re in a hurry, it is so easy to get flustered and forget things causing you to take more time at the store running back and forth or, even worse, making multiple trips. I touched on both of those things above. Make a plan so you have enough time to easily get what you need. It might take a little more effort, but it will save you time and money in the long run!
I hope these tips help you become the grocery queen of your household! haha! Spend your precious time and money with your littles, mamas, not your groceries!