We go through a boatload of groceries in my house each month. It wasn’t always like that, but adding two babies and an extra adult into the mix has really shaken things up around here. Before we implemented our current strategy, my husband was making near-daily trips to the store and our spending was out of control. We finally had a heart-to-heart about the matter, and we came up with ways to reign in the spending. Here’s what we did to tame the grocery monster.
We Keep a Running List
Sounds simple, and you’re likely thinking that you do this anyway. Make a list before you go to the store and then shop from the list, right? Well, we did that too, but it never seemed to work out – there were always things that we would forget to buy. Then, we’d return to the store to purchase these items only to discover a day later that we were missing something else as well. Each time one of us made an extra trip – without fail – we would return with a few other items that we did not necessarily need. The price really began to add up over time.
To remedy this situation, I bought a simple dry-erase board with a marker attached. I put it on our fridge, and then I encouraged everyone in my household to add things we needed throughout the week as they thought of them. Now, if I see we’re low on diapers, I’ll stop what I’m doing and add it to the list ASAP.
At the end of the week, I have a nice, full list outlining exactly what we need from the store. I go through the list and mark off anything we don’t absolutely need to cut the cost even more.
We Plan Our Meals
Once I have my list of items, I plan what we will eat for the next seven days and add the ingredients for each meal to the list. I make sure to check out what we already have in the kitchen so that we can use existing items first. For example, if we have extra chicken in the freezer, then I’ll plan to make roasted chicken with potatoes as a meal for one of the days. For storing food, polybags might be a good option.
I also stick to a set grocery day. Ours is Monday. This helps regulate the spending and we can anticipate when the next bill will come around. It helps us budget more efficiently. It’s funny – my family was slow to warm up to the regime change, but now that I’ve been doing this for a couple of months, they seem to enjoy the predictability of the new system. I’ve even caught my hubby adding things to the dry-erase board once or twice.
Not knowing what you’re going to the store for is a terrible mistake when you’re doing heavy-duty grocery shopping, and planning ahead is the key to saving money. With this new system, we are never out of anything – toilet paper, dog food – anything. And we know what we need to spend each month to make that happen. It’s a good feeling.