I know, I know… you think that you just can’t possibly save money grocery shopping without using coupons – but YOU CAN! Over the last several years there has been this myth that the only way to cut your grocery bill was to either eat peanut butter and jelly every night OR spend hours cutting coupons. I actually even got wrangled up in the coupon clipping phenomenon. I am by no means denying that you can save money with coupons, because you can, BUT you don’t HAVE to use them in order to see some changes in the total you are spending. You also don’t have to starve yourself or your family to make it work. We eat lettuce wraps, chicken meatballs, and stuffed peppers!
I really only have two words of recommendation: Plan & Prepare. Honestly, that is all I do. A lot of planning and a lot of preparing. I did receive the planner mentioned at a discounted price in return for my review but all opinions are my own. There may be affiliate links throughout this post.
I can hear you now – “Obviously planning is part of it -but what does that LOOK like?” Don’t worry! I am going to tell you! Planning for me is several phases and takes a good amount of time; probably around 3-4 hours each month BUT this saves me money and is the same amount of time I was spending planning a list when I would go weekly. Over time it has slowly gotten quicker but it is not something I have been able to knock out in an hour.
Plan for EVERYTHING
Seriously – everything. I start with a calendar and cross off days we may have plans or want to eat out. Then, I start looking at recipes. My family is not a big fan of seafood so we tend to stay away from that. I look for simple, quick dinners that require little prep OR things I can prep on the weekend. Plan for snack foods, lunches, AND breakfast foods. We love to eat canned biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and frozen waffles but if your family likes egg casseroles – make sure you add the ingredients to your list! My husband and I both work so we take leftovers or sandwiches so not much planing involved there. My kids LOVE applesauce and veggie straws so I make sure to pick up extra at the beginning of the month.
Make sure you have these on your list:
1. Breakfast Foods
2. Lunch Items
3. Dinner Items AND Sides
4. Snack Foods/Extras
Plan your SHOPPING LIST
As you write out your menu, make sure you have recipes to go with EVERYTHING. You could include them on your menu if it is editable on the computer OR you can just have it written out to the side. Several things, like spices, may already be in your cabinet. Cross anything you DON’T need off your list. Go through and group like items. There is no need to have 1 onion, 2 onions, etc on the list – combine and just write 3 onions. I go a step further and organize mine by store location. I group veggies and fruits, refrigerated, frozen, canned, etc all together on my list so I am sure not to have to go from aisle 6 to aisle 10 and then have to go back to aisle 6 – annoying! If you don’t know this the first time you can just pay attention and change your strategy the next month. Be specific with your total amount of meat needed because a lot of times it is cheaper to buy in bulk! I also check (quickly) for any relative coupons that I could use. I buy a lot of store brands so generally there aren’t many coupons.
This is pretty big. Shopping once a month is not a quick 30 minute run in and out trip to the grocery store. You need to have a good 4-5 hours to get to the store, get everything you need, and get home to unload. I usually leave JD with the kids and go by myself – that makes it way quicker. He cleans the table off while I am gone because we need somewhere to put all the groceries! If you rush you will miss the sales and probably forget an item or two. The idea behind going once a month is that you actually save money in terms of not picking up a few extras once a week. You can also plan your meals to reuse ingredients and get the most bang for your buck!
Once you are home you are just going to want to sit down but there is work to do! Shopping for the month brings in a lot of groceries all at once. Put away all of the groceries and then sit down! I usually don’t do any meal prep the same day as shopping. I shop on a Saturday and meal prep on Sunday afternoon. We buy all of our meat up front so a lot goes in the freezer. My recommendation is two freeze each chicken breast in separate bags. Brown ALL the ground beef/turkey and freeze in 1 pound amounts. You can also freeze some veggies – we freeze our peppers and onions that will be cooked in a meal. I don’t freeze potatoes because I never have luck with that (they get brown spots). Usually my potatoes last a good amount of time anyways.
Use a Planner
Recently I received this Tools4Wisdom planner and I love it. It helps me stay focused on my goals both for meal planning AND for life in general. I use this to list out my meals each night so I don’t forget and can stay on track. I write in pencil so if something changes I can easily move it around 🙂 Life is always changing but even with curve balls you can still stick to your goals! The planner is ON SALE on Amazon so grab yours TODAY!