Last month, we slashed our grocery budget–including household items–to $200. At first, it seemed like an ambitious, if not unlikely, goal. However, with some strategic planning and careful shopping, we came in at just under $193 for two people. For an entire month of groceries. One of the best strategies I used throughout the month was to overhaul not where I shopped, but what I shopped from–namely, I had been using the wrong grocery list.
Any List is a Good Start
If you shop from a grocery list, you’re on the right track, no doubt about it. There is nothing worse than making a trip, navigating the crowds, and finding yourself pulling out of the parking lot only to realize you forgot the milk, bread, or whatever grocery staple fled your mind when you spied
colorful, fresh produce pumpkin spice chai. With a grocery list, you’ll be more purposeful in the store, you’ll be less likely to find unnecessary items lurking at bottom of your cart, and you’ll save yourself from making repeated trips.
Working with Sale Ads is Better
In addition to making a grocery list based on items that you need, adding sale items strategically to your list can pay off big time. If Mr. P and I are going to eat meat that week, I’ll price out a few of my local stores to see what they have on sale. The same holds true for fruits, vegetables, anything really. I do limit myself to no more than three stores that are essentially next to one another, because I figure my time amounts to something and gas can be expensive. Sale ads are also the key to couponing success. It’s not enough to simply clip or print coupons. If you’re looking to score big, use sale ads to match manufacturer and store coupons to the already-low advertised price. But stick to your list. Otherwise, you’ll end up with free contact solution even though no one in your family wears contacts. True story.
Shopping with Your Fridge in Mind is Magical
The most effective way to slash our grocery budget was to start with a list of what we had, not with a list of what we needed. Once I decluttered my cabinets and inventoried my refrigerator and freezer, I realized that I had purchased lots of sale items in the past with no plan to put them to use. As a result, I had jars of sauce but no pasta, tortilla chips but no salsa, basil but no mozzarella.* Once I had a better sense of the items that I already purchased or had growing in my garden, then I started looking through sale ads to figure out how to complete the meals. Not only was I able to use a surprising amount of items that were already flirting with their expiration dates, but I also stopped myself from buying multiples of things I already had.* Using more of a backwards design model to my grocery shopping list led to significant savings.
*If you have homegrown tomatoes and homegrown basil and you aren’t eating it as a caprese salad, you’re doing gardening wrong. Unless you’re a vegan. Then I understand.
**At one point, I had five 28 ounce cans of organic diced tomatoes. In a house with no pantry. Not smart.
So Tell Me…How do you shop for groceries? Do you having any tips or tricks for slashing your grocery budget?