I don’t clip coupons, shop wholesale nor belong to any special clubs. When it comes to groceries I take the approach of having no tricks up my sleeves, just common sense and some planning.
Make a Meal Plan
My first approach is meal planning. At the onset of every week my wife and I have a prepared list of meals that we plan to make and consume throughout the week for breakfast and dinner at home and lunches at work. This helps us get some variety on a planned basis so we don’t get bored out of our minds eating the same thing all of time. Meal planning also helps us get into a routine of “necessities” that are on just about every grocery shopping trip. Which leads me to:
Make a Grocery List
Apart from the “must haves” from meal planning, we avoid budget busting overspending and impulse purchases by having a prepared grocery list made before we head out. Our grocery list is pretty thorough as the list is compiled throughout the week and is posted on the fridge, and covered with line items filled in as we: (1) meal plan, (2) come across a shortage of any items during the week and (3) conduct a final check in our fridge, pantry and bathroom for items we’ll need on our grocery trip. Sure, from time to time we will deviate from the grocery list and make a few impulse purchases, so long as we never go over our weekly budget, which transitions me to:
Set a Budget…and Stick To It!
Before every month begins my wife and I agree on paper how much money we are going to spend during the month ahead on groceries. This is then broken down into a weekly allotment. To ensure we never go over our agreed upon amount, we withdraw our monthly grocery budget in cash and place it into an envelope, labeled “GROCERIES.” When we are about to head out to the grocery store I pull out our weekly allotment in cash and we proceed on our merry way.
Keeping Track at the Grocery Store
This was huge for me in my frugal fury fighting training. While shopping with my grocery list in hand, my wife and I keep track of the amount spent as we grocery shop. My wife usually scans the grocery items to make sure we get the best value and I tally it. It’s not an exact science because of taxes but I’ll tell you what, we have never been over our weekly allotment in 3 ½ years of doing this!
Final Tips to Cut the Bill
To help keep costs down with rising food costs we’ve discovered a few things that have helped us keep a low monthly grocery budget. Roughly 85% of our meals are vegetarian. Basically my line of thinking says that a pound of lettuce will always cost less than a pound of meat. Also when shopping for fruit we only buy what is in season, and as a rule, only buy fruit if the item is under $1 a pound. We are not afraid of generic brands. If you were to raid our fridge and pantry you would find an assortment of items labeled Great Value and Centrella.
So there you have it, if you plan ahead, seek the best value for your dollar and are not afraid to shop where goobers turn their noses at, then believe me, you will be on the road to financial peace!