I used to be that person who would fly by the seat of her pants when it came to grocery shopping. I would go to the store, walk around aimlessly, and throw things I ‘thought’ I needed in my cart. I quickly realized that the old ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ saying rang true and that I was quickly just throwing money out the window because I didn’t have a plan.
I have saved hundreds by simply taking the time to follow these steps every week to ensure we have enough food for all our meals. It’s real food, a simple process, for every day life. It is the model I live by and I hope that these tips will help you too!
Here are the 5 easy steps I take every week!
1. Decide On Stores
Take a moment to decide what stores you usually shop at and whether you think there could be a better option for you. I always shop at the same places every week. For me, it is Sprouts and Aldi’s and occasionally a short Walmart trip for things like vacuum bags, filters, hair and body products, etc… Sometimes I just go to Walmart when I am out and about and not necessarily on the day I do my major shopping. The number one key is don’t overwhelm yourself with too many stops, especially if you have little ones.
2. Pull Up Ads
After I have decided where I am going to shop, I pull their ad’s up online and quickly browse through each of them. If I notice something that I think we would use, I write it down on my list. This will just be a rough draft of items you may need. Keep the ad’s pulled up so you can reference them when you go to plan your actual meals.
3. Browse Pinterest
After I have perused the ad’s I then scan Pinterest for meal ideas based on what ingredients were on sale at my stores. For instance, if I see that chicken is $1.77/lb at Sprouts and asparagus is $1.29 a bundle at Aldi’s I would then type in “chicken asparagus” into Pinterest and see what I get. I have become better at remembering recipes that call for certain ingredients and can now type in more specific phrases like “one pan chicken asparagus” or “chicken asparagus alfredo.” As you use Pinterest more frequently and create different meal plans, it will be easier to look at ad’s and come up with meal ideas. Practice makes perfect!
4. Create Your List
Now is the time to add all ingredients to your grocery list. As I find my meals on Pinterest I add the ingredients I know I do not have on hand to my list. At the bottom of your list, or as you think of them, add your household groceries that were not part of your meals. You can now go back and scratch off some of the items you may have originally put on your list that you may no longer need, if need be.
5. Label Items
Now that you have a list go back through really fast and put the first initial of the store you are purchasing the item at next to the item on your list. For example, if I am getting the chicken that was on sale at Sprouts I would put a ‘S’ next to the chicken on my list. For the asparagus that I am picking up at Aldi’s, I would put a ‘A’ next to it. This is just another super easy step to help you quickly browse your list as you are in the stores. If I am not sure where I am purchasing an item I just leave it blank. This is just an easy way for me to make sure I am getting everything I need at that store before I check out and run off and forget something!
Once you do this several times, it will become easier and easier to put a grocery list together. By doing this, I know that I have a plan when I go to the store. It saves me money because I am not tempted to by items that are not on my list or purchase things I am not certain I will use. It ensures I use up all or most of all my groceries in a week’s time before they go bad.
For a family of 3 we spend less then $75 a week on groceries by shopping this way. That may still sound like a lot to some but for that price (living in Oklahoma) we get at least 3 dinner meals that we eat for several nights, stuff for lunches, snacks, and breakfasts. This also includes things we will use more than once like a bulk bag of rice or spices. We eat whole foods and I hardly ever buy pre-made meals. I simply purchase lots of fresh, dry, and occasionally canned goods to create simple meals that are healthy and easy to whip up on a busy weeknight!
Do you have any tips on how to create real, simple meals? Or how to save money when grocery shopping or meal planning? I would love to hear about them below!