As you can imagine, we go through a lot of food in our house. From the YouTube recipe videos to the food blog, testing new recipes, and just being a family of five (who eats a lot), we allocate a good amount of our time and money on groceries.
Over the past several years, Dustin and I have learned a lot of helpful grocery shopping tips and tricks for how to save time and money at the grocery store. My guess is nobody really enjoys grocery shopping all that much. Despite this, it’s something we all have to do on a regular basis. Hopefully, you’ll find these tips as useful as we have the next time you go shopping 🙂
Grocery Shopping Tips
- Organize your grocery list by section. Once you have your grocery items listed, take the time to divide them into the appropriate sections that match your grocery store. Include a meats, produce, dairy, breads, deli, and so on so you get everything you need in each section and don’t have to backtrack.
- Plan your meals ahead of time. Before you leave for the grocery store, plan ahead enough meals to get you through your next planned trip. Make sure you’ll be able to fully prepare 4-5 meals with what you’re buying. If you’d like to get help with meal planning, click here.
- Don’t shop for food on an empty stomach. Eat before you go to the grocery store or you won’t be able to make smart decisions when shopping. All of a sudden, random things will sound delicious and you’ll wind up not following your list, spending more money, and wasting time.
- Reuse similar ingredients. If you know a recipe you’re using only requires half a head of lettuce, for example, plan a different meal to use the other half. Think about what groceries you’re buying and how left-overs can be re-used in something els to avoid wasting food.
When You’re At The Store
- Always bring a list. The last thing you want is to show up at the grocery store unprepared. Doing so will result in aimlessly walking around every aisle, buying food you don’t need, not buying the right items for what you do need, and wasting your precious time and money.
- Only buy what you need. This is a big one. Really rely on your grocery list and what you decided you needed before you arrived at the store. Don’t fall into traps at the store for items you just don’t need. Pay attention to the amount of what you’re buying as well. Meal planning makes this easier.
- Buy meats on sale and store in freezer. The exception to the tip above is if there is a sale. But only if there is a sale AND it’s something that you will need in the near future. A good example of this is meat which can easily be frozen and used later.
- Make extra portions for lunches. One way to make your money, time, and groceries stretch farther is to make extra portions of your meals to use as lunches.
- Stock the basics for quick, go-to meals. We always have a set of a few go-to meals that we can use in case we are low on groceries and can’t make it to the store. That typically means we have things like garlic, noodles, rice, chicken broth, spaghetti sauce, bread, and onions in the pantry, and some frozen meat in the freezer. These items are non-perishable, relatively cheap, and can make a ton of different meals if needed.
- Buy produce in season. In-season produce is significantly cheaper than when it’s out of season. Pay attention to what is in season in your area and buy accordingly.
- Stick to a budget. If you’re trying to pinch pennies, you can set a budget for how much money you’re allowed to spend when shopping. This helps force you into making the tough decisions for what you really need versus what you just kinda want and helps save money in the process.
- Watch every item as it gets scanned. When checking out, watch the cash register as your items are scanned. You’d be surprised at how often the cashier doesn’t know the right code for the produce or something scans incorrectly and charges you the wrong amount. This also helps you really get a feel for what it is you’re spending your money on.
During The Week
- Take an inventory of what’s in your pantry and refrigerator. Before you leave your house and make your list, take the time to go through your refrigerator and pantry to see what you have and what you need. This will help you re-stock on what’s missing or getting low and will also help you avoid buying extra stuff you don’t need.
- Keep an ongoing list for items you are low on. Keep a running list of what items are getting low so you can quickly add them to your grocery list when it’s time to get to the store. I keep my list on my phone, but you could also keep a notepad next to the fridge so it’s nice and handy.
- Pay attention to your time. In addition to budgeting your money, budget your time and set a limit for how long you will be at the grocery store. Typically, 45 minutes to an hour to buy a weeks worth of meals should be sufficient. The longer you’re in there, the more money you’ll spend and the more time you’ll waste.
- Follow a pattern. Get to know your grocery store, the layout, peak hours, and sales. Follow the same pattern every time you go to maximize your efficiency. For example, if you start with the produce, then meat, then deli, and so on every time you go, you’ll be able to move quicker and quicker each time you shop.
Did I miss anything? Share your tips in the comments below.