Friday, October 24, 2008

How I Grocery Shop

Recently I said that I was thinking about posting meals and shopping list on here. I think I'll start that next month. We have some item in the freezer that I'd like to use before starting to put a regular shopping list online. The premise is just going cheap with what's on sale, not on coupons. I may eventually use coupons, but it's hit and miss for now.

I thought I would, however, starting out by giving you a break down of what a usual shopping trip (and preparation) looks like for me. We get the ads in the mail for the local and non local grocery stores on Saturday (maybe...I can't remember exactly when we get them). Since moving here I've shopped at a couple of stores, asked around to see which one others like, and picked one store to make the main one for us. Sometimes I go to a different store if I really need something that they have really cheap. Anyway, this is what I do when I get the ad for the store we've chosen to go with...
  • Before anything else, I ask myself if we already have a meal or two (or more) in our cupboards. If I do, I don't buy as many items for meals or I push my shopping trip back a couple of days so that I use up the things we already have.
  • Ok - I take the ad, and a pen and paper, and sit down - usually with coffee. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.
  • First I just take a quick look through the ad. I always look at what date it's good to - not sure why I do this because it's the same day every week :). I guess I just like to be sure.
  • Then I start on the first page and write down any item that we use on a regular basis for meals or whatever. I especially make note if it's on a special sale - whether we use it a lot or not - and put the price on my paper next to where I wrote the item.
  • After I've looked through the paper, I look down my list. I think about the items we have at home (which we are usually completely out of...I buy just enough food) and what sale items go with what meals. I usually have the papers I've printed from A Month of Meals for this part so I can think of what meals to make.
  • Using that information, I make a list of the meals we will have for the next 7-8 days. I usually write what meal goes with what day and put it on the fridge so I know exactly what we're having on what day - easier meals for days we get home later and stuff like that.
  • I see what staples we might need for the week - anything from milk, eggs, and cheese to flour, vanilla, and brown sugar. I put whatever of those things on the list as well.
  • Then I total up my entire grocery list. For some reason, I kind of have the general prices (or specific ones) memorized. They just stick in my brain. If your brain doesn't naturally do that, make a list the next time you go to the store of the prices of items you regularly get. If you have A Month of Meals, there is a general price sheet in there. Then, I circle the prices I know for sure. I usually add up what those are and then add up the questionable ones and total the approximate price for everything.
  • I usually always buy whatever fruits and vegetables that are on sale - except for bananas because those are always cheap! We try not to be picky, but go with what is in season and on sale.
  • I am usually shooting to spend around $35-50 each week (everything included - not just food). So, if it looks like I'll be over and I know I don't have margin in the $200/month, I re-figure the items to make simpler meals or to get more sale items, etc.
  • Then, I go to the store and buy exactly what is on my list. If the price at the store is different than what I'd written down, I usually make a note of it on my grocery list. I'm rarely surprised when I get to the check out.
So, for what it's worth, that's what I do to make grocery shopping fun and cheap :). I really do enjoy the process! Please let me know if something doesn't make sense!


  1. It was good for me to hear that this only takes you 15 min. I don't make a meal plan often enough and I think it is because I just don't take the time. Surly I can find 15 min. once a week to save a lot of money!


  2. One of the things that was helpful for me in grocery shopping was to avoid the super stores, like Meijer and Wal-mart (which I patronize at times). I often get side-tracked in these stores that provide so much more than groceries. By avoiding these stores I eliminat the temptation to buy outside of my grocery list. Leppinks, a local (grocery only) store, proved to be just enough for most of my grocery needs.

  3. Good point on being careful where you shop - I do think it's harder to be self-controlled in some of the stores that offer so much. You also have a better chance of supporting local stuff at smaller stores.

  4. I'm a horrible grocery shopper. I used to go every week and would would never have what I need to make dinner.
    With the economy going south, I had to make some major changes.
    I buy amost everything in bulk at costco or restraunt supply stores.
    We save money on groceries and also on gas by not having to go to the grocery store as often(we live 15 minutes away from the store). I go grocery shopping once a month, but I could probably get by with what I have without going to the store for 3 months.

  5. Yeah, I love Costco! Before moving here, we had a membership in Indiana and used it. Haven't found one close yet and have now gotten used to where we've been shopping.

    My mom did once a month grocery shopping all of my growing up years. It's a good reminder because it definitely helps not being tempted to buy extra stuff when you go every week.