Budgeting 101: How to Shop for Groceries on a Budget!

When it comes to grocery shopping, I'm a Pro.

After almost 17 years working in grocery retail I moved on to another job, in another industry. Sounds nifty, but after a week or so of no longer working in the grocery store, there were a couple of things that I noticed:

1. We were running out of food. My pantry was woefully under-stocked and most everything was out of date.

2. I had been spending my hard-earned money on a history of daily dump-and-run grocery trips and I had nothing to show for my money.

There was nothing left to do, but to train myself to meal plan. 

1. I started by cleaning out my pantry and my fridge. I threw out everything that had expired and plenty that would never be eaten. Besides, it's always better to start with a clean slate. If it was still in date and we still weren't going to eat it, I donated it to the food pantry. 

2. No fancy paperwork needed, no apps required. Oh, there are plenty of those things out there, but I just wrote down the days of the week on a sheet of scrap paper. Once it's set, I post it on the cabinet where the family can see what plan. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

3. Which day was going to be my grocery shopping day? Most stores post their flyers online and they do it at the same time each week. Most grocery stores don't mail flyers to homes anymore, but some will put them in the Sunday newspaper. If you are planning on using coupons you use the flyers along with the Sunday supplements to plan. 

4. Decide what your biggest budget buster will be. This sounds like a strange place to start, but if you have a bunch of meat eaters in your family like I do, then you know that only way to buy meats are when they go on sale. Another tips is to shop for meats really early in the morning. Most meat department start their day by marking down the packages that are close to the sell by date. This doesn't mean it's going bad, just that you should either use it or freeze it right away. 

 5. Shop the outer area of the grocery store first. This is where all the healthy, basic items for your meal plan will be. Produce, Meat, and Dairy. These are the items you want to spend your money on the most. The stuff in the aisles is usually premixed, modified and not good for your health. It may be cheaper, but use items such as rice and pasta only as fillers for making your dollar go farther. 

6. Don't shop in the Deli or the Bakery. Along with the meat department they have the highest rate of mark up. They depend on your ability to window shop, by providing fancy, mouth-watering things that will make you forget about your plan. But remember, Deli meats are generally high in sodium (which is not good for anyone) and most of the items in the Bakery can be produced at home with similar results for a fraction of the cost. 

7. Don't set your plan in stone before you go. I never plan the meals until I get home. That way if I go and they are having an in-store sale on something I know that I can adjust my plan to the best deal. 

8. Meals don't have to be fancy. Since the dawning of Pinterest there has been this effort to make things as fanciful as possible. You can easily find 15 different ways to make a one-bowl brownie, and none of them are wrong. But sometimes we make things much more complicated then they really need to be. Think about the lovely food pyramid we learned about in school and try to just fill the categories according to that. No need for a flayed this or a 12-step barbecued that. Simple will save your budget with less items. 

9. Never, Ever, Ever shop on an empty stomach. Nothing will make you go off budget faster than going to the grocery store when you are hungry. One thing leads to another and before you know it your cart is piled high with instant gratification items!

10. Take cash and leave your cards at home. This one little item will discourage any wayward shopping and keep you true to your budget. If you don't have it with you, you can't spend it.

And lastly, remember... Forewarned is Forearmed!

No comments:

Post a Comment

 photo envye.jpg
envye blogger theme