Using Grocery Lists – Saving the Grocery Budget
|September 7, 2012||Posted by Koalaborg under Budget, Home Life, Home Organization|
Recently I wrote about how our family is trying to salvage our apparently unrealistic grocery budget. I went through a list of several things we are doing (some more successful than others) to bring our spending under control, and thatyou might consider as well. We have spent the last month really pushing for improvement and so I wanted to go into more detail about some of the suggestions I mentioned in my previous post.
One of the most helpful things I have found has been using a grocery list. I’m not talking about scribbling a few items on the back of an envelope, but a well-planned, organized shopping list. I’m a grocery store drifter, and it is so easy for me to get off track while shopping for a few things, and next thing I know I have a ton of randomness in my cart. So I have put myself on a strict grocery list regiment – I shop by my list and don’t deviate.
Create a Master List. I went through our pantry and fridge/freezer this Summer and made a master list of what we buy and use. I generated a master grocery list document that I print off and check items off as we need them.
Get Strict. While having a master list has been helpful and has cut down on my drifter tendencies, we found ourselves still buying our favorites each week. When we decided it was time to really get serious about our grocery spending, we sat down with our grocery list and calculated how much money we were spending on some of our favorites – Tofurky slices, Boca chicken patties, Gimme Lean breakfast sausage, tortilla chips. I prefer to cook most food from scratch, but with kids it can be helpful to keep some “convenience items” on hand – the problem is when they become favorites and start to really add to the grocery bill. I mentioned in my earlier post that I don’t cook meat for Dan, and he doesn’t cook it indoors – he grills burgers and chicken outside. When we were calculating our “favorites” costs, we also considered how much we were spending each week for his hamburgers and chicken, grill coals and fluid. It adds up! Dan eats mostly vegetarian at home and he actually decided to give up eating meat all together. He knows it is a better way of eating, and seeing how much we were spending for him to eat meat each week really made him think hard about his eating habits. So after seeing the cost of sticking to our favorites, we actually removed them from our shopping list. Does this mean we will never eat them again? No of course not, but they aren’t on our list and being picked up weekly and consumed out of habit or convenience. If we decide to purchase something again, it will be for a specific meal that we are having as a splurge. I have to admit, we have actually felt pretty liberated having cut all the fluff out of our grocery list.
Plan for a Weekly Shopping Trip. This has been the item that has really made such an impact on our spendingl. It’s easy to grocery shop during the week with the kids because the stores aren’t usually as crowded. However, with two kids, its easy to be distracted or nagged for extras, or thrown off by potty breaks. I never got a full week’s shopping trip done this way. But these short trips for a handful of things always ended up costing us more because I ended up “remembering” things we needed or might need. It was getting out of control. I am now doing a full shopping trip alone either on a weeknight or weekend, while the kids hang out with Dan at home. No distractions, and just me with my grocery list on a mission. I have accepted that I will need to run out between trips for almond milk and produce as needed (we go through a lot of bananas around here…) but when I do this midweek trip, I go in armed with a very short list and stick to it. No more drifting!
Use the Menu to Build the Grocery List. I’ll be going into menu planning in more detail later, but sitting down to plan a menu for the week, and then putting what you need for the menu on the grocery lists before you shop, is so helpful. This ensures that you have what you need to get through the week’s meals, without needing to run out for a “few things.” This is always what got me in trouble – I would need one item for the meal I wanted to cook, have to run to the store, and then think of a handful of other things I should get while I was there. We were seeing shopping trips several times a week on our bank statement – and that’s just ridiculous! Since I have gotten strict about keeping up with a menu and shopping from the menu, my kitchen schedule has been a lot less stressful and we are seeing our spending go down.
One thing to remember – don’t be so strict that you feel miserable. While we have stripped our grocery list to keep fluff out of our weekly shopping trips, we know we will want to indulge on occasion. We have already talked about having sushi night in the next week or so. Make the splurge items just that, a splurge.