The Most Helpful Grocery Shopping Tips & Tricks
The Most Helpful Grocery Shopping Tips & Tricks
Do you ever feel like grocery shopping is a chore best put off until the very last minute?
I used to loathe grocery shopping.
But now I truly look forward to it because I changed the way I do it.
I no longer spend hours trying to decide what to buy.
I no longer majorly overspend and regret it later.
I no longer haphazardly pick foods out and get home thinking I still have nothing to make for dinner.
I no longer throw out a quarter of what I bought because I never got around to using it.
I’m not perfect, so some of these things still happen occasionally, but they’re no longer the norm.
And I’m going to show you how you can transform your grocery shopping, too!
GO IN WITH A PLAN
Meal planning is the first step to having an effective grocery shopping trip.
When you know what food you’re planning to make, you can create a list based on the ingredients needed for those dishes.
The alternative is to wander the aisles at the grocery store, looking for whatever sounds good, and ending up with a haphazard mix of things (like deli turkey, cauliflower rice, and hot sauce) that you don’t know how to create dinner from. I know because I’ve been there.
When you go shopping with a meal plan in mind, you can be more intentional with your purchases and with the aisles you go down at the store, skipping ones you don’t need and saving time in the process!
I like to have a plan for breakfasts (usually overnight oatmeal, muffins, or an oatmeal bake), dinners (with enough for leftovers for lunch), and some easy-to-grab snacks like fruit and trail mix.
Then I organize my list by category so I can go faster down the aisles at the grocery store and skip the ones I don’t need, which means I can grocery shop in about half an hour when I’m really focused (I’ll admit I sometimes get distracted or like to take my time checking out the new items). This is a HUGE improvement over spending nearly two hours grocery shopping with my family growing up!
START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
Without a solid inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer, you will likely end up doing one of two things (or both):
You’ll forget key ingredients because you thought you already had them at home.
You’ll buy foods you don’t need because you already have them at home, but you forgot that you bought them last time or they were hiding behind the jar of pasta sauce.
If you go grocery shopping after taking inventory of what you have at home, you won’t fall prey to either of those traps!
You also will have a more efficient way of tracking ingredients that you run low on before you’re actually out, like noting when you’re low on peanut butter and getting more before your preschooler (or husband, or even you) have a meltdown that the peanut butter’s all gone (we’ve all been there!).
Starting with what you have can also help you save money because you can choose recipes based on what you have on hand, using up food before it goes bad and not spending as much money at the store. And who doesn’t want that?
If you realize you have pasta, all you need is the sauce. If you know you have chicken, why not make a crockpot chicken dish? Then you’d only need some veggies and sauce (and you probably have many of the sauce ingredients already).
Starting with what you have makes your shopping list shorter, which is not only less daunting when you reach the store, but also saves you time because you’re not looking for as many items!
Depending on where you live, you might frequent a small local market or a large chain store that is either entirely dedicated to groceries (or nearly entirely, like Cub, Festival, or Whole Foods), or you might go to stores that have large departments for other things, too (like Walmart or Target).
I have my personal preferences, but I’m not trying to twist your arm to get you to shop at different stores. My goal is to just get you to shop smarter.
And how do you do that?
Consider the store’s weekly ad cycle. Do sales begin on Sundays or Wednesdays? When do the shelves get stocked with new, fresh products? (The answers to those are often the same.)
Compare prices. This works best if you keep track of prices for items you want to compare among stores.
Go in with a list. As mentioned before, this is pivotal. This is what will save you from grabbing every new, shiny product and going over budget.
Think about what’s in season, as that will often be less expensive since it is more widely available. Strawberries are cheaper in the summer than they are in the winter.
To get started planning meals without losing your sanity or spending all your time in the kitchen, grab your free Meal Planning Toolkit!
What’s your favorite way to save time and money on your groceries? Let me know in the comments!