For years I've been trying to save my family money when grocery shopping. I've spent hours clipping coupons, making menu plans and then making lists. The coupons only got me some free conditioner, 15 bottles of mustard, 39 packs of high sodium prepackaged noodles, and about 10 boxes of mac & cheese, while the menu planning & list making took more time to make and plan then it did to shop for, and I always wound up forgetting ingredients, or making last minute changes because some of the items I had listed were too expensive. It lead to spending more money and just being over all frustrating when it came to meal planning. Then one day, I forgot my list and didn't feel like going back home or trying to recall everything on the list.
I try to avoid a lot of processed or pre-made foods, so I do what I can to stick to the outside ring of the store (produce, dairy, meat, bakery). So I started in the meat section. Instead of grabbing the meat needed for a pre-planned list of meals, I was able to browse through and find what was on sale. This made it easy for me to take part in special B1G1 Deals or managers specials. I'd just try to keep track of the amount of meals I'd get from each package, some packages were only worth 1 meal, but others were family size that I could use for 3-5 meals. This also worked for produce. I could shop for what was on sale, and I'd even take part in those fruits and veggies that were on their way to turning bad within a day or 2 and were super cheap(I'd simply cut them up and freeze them when I got home).
Due to so much shopping I know the staples we use in our house Things like eggs, cheese, spaghetti, frozen broccoli, ect. The only time I make a list is if there is a special recipe that I want to try that I know we don't usually buy the ingredients, or wouldn't have them on hand. And to be honest, I shop with a toddler and my hubby so even with a short list I almost ALWAYS forget something!!
Once we get home I separate any large packages of meat into smaller bags and get out my trusty notebook and take an inventory. 5 meals worth of chicken breast? 2 beef roasts? 3 packs of pork chops? the list adds up and goes on. Once I have an inventory of the meat that I have, I start to build meals around it. Using the staple items I just bought or that are still living in the pantry I plan my menu. I then scan through the now fully planned month of meals and see what may still be needed, maybe a packet of gravy, or a pack of hot dog buns, odds and ends here and there but over all I have everything I need.
Shopping and meal planning this way has not only saved my family money, it has saved TIME! I used to spend a good 3-4hrs menu planning & list making. Now that time can be spend cuddling with hubby (or the dog) watching a movie or blogging.
You too can save money by skipping the clipping!
Comment below with your favorite way to save money when grocery shopping.