Grocery shopping is one of those necessary evils that inevitably falls on my shoulder.
As a busy mom, I try to be as prepared as possible before heading out the door, especially when shopping with two, young children. The following are my favorite tips for grocery shopping on a budget, the smart way.
HAVE A GAME PLAN FOR THE WEEK
Before heading out the door, check out the weekly ads for your local grocery stores. This is definitely a must when grocery shopping on a budget. Go through your ads and begin to formulate a game plan for the week. The trick is to plan your meals around sale items.
This tip is especially helpful if you are a “meat-eating” family, because meat is usually the highest price item on your grocery list. Even if you are craving salmon, if Boston butt is on sale, plan for pulled pork instead.
Also, a weekly meal plan takes the guesswork out of dinner. You know what to expect for the week and can plan accordingly around your family’s schedule.
SHOP MULTIPLE STORES
When grocery shopping on a budget, check out multiple stores to get the most bang for your buck. This can be difficult, especially when shopping with small children. Believe me, I understand. It’s easy to be tempted to hit the closest store, regardless of the prices. Unfortunately, this mentality will not save you money at the checkout counter. Use your weekly ads and plan your trip around where the sales are.
Some store prices even change on a weekly basis. One week a staple might be cheaper at your “go-to” store, while the next week it is significantly cheaper at another. I highly recommend looking at the ads for multiple grocery stores in your area before you even leave the house. Trust me, just bring lots of snacks, take a deep breath and practice your best mommy “NO” voice for the store.
STICK TO YOUR LIST – FOR THE MOST PART
I am a huge believer in making a grocery list and sticking to it. This definitely helps eliminate “impulse” purchases that might otherwise occur. But, it is still wise to check out any unadvertised sales at your local store. Also called “in-store sales” or “in-store markdowns”, these sale items are not advertised in your weekly ads. Some stores even have a “Manager’s Special” section.
If you find sales on staple items, I recommend purchasing them. For example, If you find significantly marked down meat, buy and freeze it for later. Also, look at sales for pantry and canned items. They will keep a long time and are worth the investment.
USE A CASH SYSTEM
Using a cash system is super helpful when grocery shopping on a budget. This helps keep you accountable and better aware of your budget. Figure out how much cash you have allocated for groceries and withdraw this amount at the beginning of each week. When the money is gone, that’s it! But, if you have leftover cash, roll it into the next week or plan a “fun” meal for your family.
LIMIT GROCERY SHOPPING TO ONCE A WEEK
Limiting your shopping to once a week helps keep you on track when grocery shopping on a budget. A weekly grocery trip forces you to get creative and use what you have on hand. This also helps to reduce food waste in your home.
My fridge is pretty much empty the day before grocery shopping. I make use of most everything I purchased for the week. If by chance there are leftovers, I try to plan them into next week’s meal plan.
As a side note, a great tip for leftover veggies and odd ends at the end of the week is to make a frittata. Toss leftover veggies and protein in a skillet and sauté them through. Add in some whisked eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Throw everything in the oven until it sets, and you have breakfast for the next few days.
Start using some of these tips for grocery shopping on a budget the next time you hit the store and start seeing massive savings on your grocery bill.