I’m reviving another old post today. This was my most popular post of all time, originally posted in April 2014. I’m not a foodie. I hate to cook with a blinding passion and I hate grocery shopping even more. Unfortunately, it’s something I have to do anyway and apparently, so do a lot of other people.
Today was errand day. Recently we switched from the evil big box store to an employee-owned chain a bit farther away. It is saving us literally hundreds every month…for the month of April, I spent under $600 on groceries and household supplies for seven people, two dogs, and a cat. I even sprung for some organic produce. Oh. And did I mention it was all real food? And we’ve only gone out to eat once…pretty darn good if I don’t say so myself. I learned at my mother’s side how to shop wisely and now the “secret” is yours.
1 Shop around. Check prices on your regular items at more than one store. If a particular store offers better prices or better quality for the price, make the switch.
2. Don’t get boxed in. I love your superstore as much as the next gal, but it takes a great deal of self-control to shop there. That’s why I stopped. If we need socks and milk, well that’s two different trips.
Update: I’m now using Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” and grocery pick up from Wal-mart* and Macey’s. It’s not a perfect system – computers glitch and I’m a control freak when it comes to shopping. But five kids and no grocery store? Yes, please. I still prefer Winco, but it’s an all day trip for me and the toddler hates shopping worse than I do.
3. Stick to your list.
4. Eat before you go. Eat till you’re full. Eat something you’re craving.
5. Go alone and prevent Mommy-can-we-get-this-itis. I always take kids with me though because it’s my only option right now.
6. Meal plan. There’re a couple of ways to do this. If things are really out of control, there are tons of purchasable meal plans out there. I’ve used e-meals* more than once when my brain needed a break. There’s also a great tool at food nanny for those who are better in the kitchen than me and of course, there are a plethora of smartphone apps. I meal plan at the store. I know, bad. But there’s a method to it.
My Meal Planning Method
I start with a basic list. Meat, veg, TP…and a full stomach. If there’s something specific I need, say we’re out of onions, I put it on the list so I don’t forget it. Then we load up and go to the store. If pork is on sale and chicken legs are marked down, I get those and as I go through the store we build our meals around that. So on the next isle they have a great deal on cabbage and capers, well there we have it, night 1: wiener schnitzel and sauerkraut. This method doesn’t work for everyone, I realize that, but for us, taking advantage of sales this way makes a huge dent. We continue like this until we have everything we need for two weeks. Yes, I said two weeks.
7. Limit trips to the store as much as possible. The more often you go, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need. We go bimonthly for our main list. We do have to go back for fresh veggies and milk but we leave the store with fresh veggies and milk and nothing else.
Any tips I’m missing? Feel free to share them in the comments.
UPDATE: Bonus #8. Shop the unit price. The store makes this super easy. Next to the price tag on the shelf there will be a tiny number, usually in another color – like yellow, that will say 5.7c/oz or something along those lines. That’s the unit price. With this number, you can easily compare apples to apples to know if you’re getting the best deal possible.
For a more extensive list “Billy” has some pretty good ideas.
*If you sign up for Wal-Mart grocery using the link above, you get $10 off and I get $10 off. Pretty snazzy.
Likewise, if you sign up for e-meals using the link above, I get free months. Be sure, if you do, to use a coupon code. “DAVE” usually works.
That said, neither e-meals nor Wal-mart sponsored this post and neither asked me to review their services. All opinions are my own.