Do you track your spending on groceries? Is it consistent or all over the place?
Recently I’ve been changing my game plan for when I do my weekly grocery trip. In the past few months and even couple of years, my weekly expense on groceries has varied. And I never really paid much attention to how much I was spending and on what, as long as I stayed below a certain number I was happy. But still, I’m a girl that is living on her own and still working with a college budget. Have to save money where you can, and groceries is one of those areas.
Prior to paying attention to my spending, I was throwing away $100+ each week on groceries (kind of a lot for someone that eats the same meals for 5 days straight…). A lot of what I bought, I ended up not using/eating, and I’d end up throwing it out at the end of the week, which meant wasted money and wasted food (NOT GOOD).
So, I started tracking what I was spending each week as well as changed a few other things that helped the process. What I do to save money and time each week:
Create a meal plan
Or at least determine what is going to be made for the number of meals your having each day. In my case, I have the same thing for breakfast everyday — so what I buy each week is the exact same. And for lunch/dinner, it’s usually a protein, carb, and veggies…simple enough.
But by determining what you’re going to have and how much of it you, helps narrow down what you need to buy and in what quantity, which then helps you from buying too much of something and overspending, which leads into the next step.
Create a shopping list
Shopping list = game plan. Always have a game plan. Your list should include everything that you need in order to cook whatever is on your meal plan for the week. Do not buy anything off of the list!
Something that I have found extremely helpful when shopping is writing out your shopping list in the order of where things are in the store. You’re probably thinking “who the hell has the store memorized?” This girl does! At least I have an idea of the order of where everything is. But my point is, by putting your list in order, you know where to start, what aisles to go to, and where to end. Which leads to only grabbing what you need (not getting distracted by unnecessary things in other aisles) and keeping your grocery spending in check.
Look through your refrigerator + pantry
Before going shopping, take a peek in your refrigerator and pantry. Is there food that wasn’t used? Food that is going bad? If so, do you really need to buy that food again? If it’s not on your meal plan, then nope! Don’t buy it.
Looking at what you bought the week before is a really great indicator of what you eat/use regularly throughout the week. And can definitely help in cutting down your spending each week. Like for me, each week eggs, egg whites, Greek yogurt, veggies are all on my list. Everything else depends on what I plan to cook. If I bought something I didn’t end up using, I don’t buy it again until I actually plan for it.
Price things out + make a budget
Look at your previous grocery receipts…if you keep them. Or if you use debit/credit card, look at your bank statements. Based on previous trips, determine a budget that would be comfortable on your bank account as well as allow you to buy everything that you need for the week ahead.
Looking through the weekly store flyers can help give you an idea of how much things will cost, or going to their website. It seems like a lot of work, but it can save you time and money in the long run!
The above have helped me quite a bit with saving money and becoming consistent in with my grocery shopping adventures. A few other things that I pay attention to are…
Compare Prices – it’s usually ALWAYS cheaper to buy store or no name brand rather than super popular brands. And it may only be a 10 cent difference, but that shit adds up. And example, Hannaford has their rewards program where you get 2% back on purchases of the store brand products…not a whole lot, but again it adds up.
Weighing produce – Not something that I do very often, but it can definitely help. Because 1) you’ll only buy the amount that you actually need, and 2) you can determine the price.
Frozen vs. Fresh – Fresh fruit is always better than frozen in my opinion. But when it comes to season and some fruits/veggies prices are skyrocketing, yeah no, this girl isn’t going to spend that money. So I’ll opt for frozen. And a lot of times I buy frozen fruit to use in smoothies or in oatmeal, it lasts longer than fresh fruit does.
Coupons – Not a huge coupon-er, but they definitely help when you find ones that you will actually use. Hannaford’s new rewards app is great because you can go through and “clip” coupons that you will use = some money saved.
Do NOT go when hungry – I think we all know how this ends…
Set a limit, pay with cash – Since I started kind of budgeting it all out and getting an idea of how much I’ll be spending, I take out cash and pay that way. So I can only spend how ever much I have in my wallet. Keeps you consistent and prevents you from buying food (Oreos, ice cream) that you don’t need and overspending.