Leslie over at Lambert's Lately is having a blog hop on grocery tips. If you're interested in seeing more, check out her blog.
I have a few tips that I use when grocery shopping:
1. Determine a budget – I think it is important to determine a budget right up front. I am such a geek and have a spreadsheet that keeps track of all of my expenses. After determining all of my monthly expenses, I determined how much I could afford for grocery shopping. Right now my budget is $50 a week and that has to include everything from food, to cleaning products, to dog food. Sometimes I go over that budget, but I try and make up for it the next week by coming in under budget. It helps to keep me from going out of control at the grocery store.
2. Make a list – I always have a list of things I need to get hanging on my fridge. I start the list at the beginning of the week (I typically shop on Thurs or Fri), and write down things as I run out of them, or things that I think of during the week. I also use this list to track what I am spending. Instead of checking things off my list, I write down next to them an approx cost (I always round up or down to make it easier to calculate in my head). This helps me keep track of what I am spending and I can determine if I am able to splurge on something fun that week.
3. Check out the unit price – Sometimes buying the bigger size item is not always cheaper. Sometimes the smaller size item can be on sale, and sometimes it is just cheaper (I think they try and confuse us sometimes). Either way, I always check the unit price to see which item/size is cheaper per unit. I then know which item/size gives me the better deal.
4. Buy store brands – I don’t use a lot of coupons because I typically buy store brands for most items. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some name brand items that I like much better than store brands (i.e. cereal, some canned veggies, boxed dinners, frozen meals, etc.), but for the most part I buy the store brand, especially for staples such as milk, bread, sugar, flour, some cleaning products, sandwich bags and trash bags, over-the-counter drugs, etc. Sometimes they are even cheaper than the name brand product with the coupon. You just have to check and see what gets you the better deal, and if you are willing to try the store brand, go with it. They are getting much better than they were years ago.
5. Meal planning – If you sit down and plan out your menu for the week, you can sometimes buy items that can be used for multiple meals throughout the week. For instance, maybe you cook with chicken one week, or you incorporate rice, cheese and certain veggies into multiple meals. This helps to ensure you aren’t wasting items you buy every week, and helps in instances where it pays to buy in bulk or in larger sizes.
This takes some thinking, but I have found a wonderful site that can help out. I love the Kraft Foods website. Yes, they typically promote their brands of foods, but they have some great recipes that are easy and aren’t too expensive to make (and you can substitue other brands). They have this one section of their website called 1 bag, 5 dinners. This section has meal plans and grocery lists for making 5 meals with ingredients that can fit into 1 grocery bag (I’ll be honest, this has to be one of those large paper bags, because I can go into a store and buy 5 items and end up with 5 plastic grocery bags, but I digress.) Anyway, check it out here.
Those are the tips I have for now. If anyone has any tips you would like to share, please do.