I thought I’d share my foolproof method to saving big at the grocery store. On average, I spend about $75 a week on groceries. This magic number includes home goods (laundry soap, toilet paper, foil, etc.) and toiletries. Depending on the week, I may go over or under $75. I’ve learned that eating more vegetarian meals significantly lowers the price of our family’s groceries, bringing the weekly bill to around $60. Is my method guaranteed to feed your family for under $75. No. However, try this method once I swear you’ll never go to the store unprepared again. I promise you, you’ll see incredible savings!
Step 1: Inventory
So many of us are guilty of skipping this essential step when planning our grocery lists. Chances are, your cupboards, fridge, and freezer are full of hidden treasures. Before doing anything else, make a list of what you have on hand. Here’s what my list included this week:
- diced tomatoes
- breakfast foods: oatmeal, cereal, Carnation Breakfast Essentials
- frozen vegetables
- Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese
- tomato soup
From this list alone, I can already tell that I don’t need to buy any breakfast foods. Now I won’t be picking up another box of cereal, saving me about $3. I can also start brainstorming meal ideas for lunch and dinner.
Step 2: Cut Coupons
I scan through my weekly ad, first only cutting the coupons I think I can use this week. Save the rest to cut later, saving yourself a little time. I also go through my collection of coupons from previous weeks to see if there’s anything I can use.
Step 3: Look Up Weekly Ad
I do this right from my phone. Kroger has an app that makes it easy to scroll through the weekly sales without looking at a traditional weekly ad found in the newspaper. Some stores, such as Kroger, run “Mega Events” where you buy a certain amount of participating items, to increase your savings. This week, Kroger’s sale was Buy 10 Save Big. I made sure to write down 10 participating items that interested me while scrolling through the ad. When looking at sale items, I like to also look at my selection of coupons to see what I can double up on savings with. At this point, you should start making connections between what you have on hand, what coupons you’ve saved, and what’s on sale to create meals in your head.
Step 4: Create Meals
I create a meal list, breaking it up into 4 categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and other. Using what you’ve discovered in steps 1-3, you should be able to put together some meals pretty easily. I like to plan for 4 dinners, knowing that we will have leftovers from at least one of them. With spending so little money during the week, we then have a little extra to do fun things on the weekend like go out to eat or order a pizza. Here’s what my meal list looked like this week:
- Carnation Instant Breakfast
- need: Milk
- tuna sandwiches with veggies and dip
- grilled cheese and tomato soup
- need: bread
- macaroni and cheese
- Monday: chicken noodle soup
- need: broth, chicken, noodles, and bread/rolls
- Tuesday: lasagna
- need: Stouffer’s lasagna
- Wednesday: crescent dogs with corn and macaroni and cheese
- need: crescent rolls, hot dogs, corn, macaroni and cheese
- Thursday: kebab and pilaf (this is a family dish that consists of steak in a tomato sauce served over rice pilaf, recipe to come soon)
- need: steak, green pepper
- Reynold’s wrap
- shampoo and conditioner
- magic erasers
- paper towels
Step 5: Search for Additional Savings
Once again, I use the Kroger app. Some grocery stores, like Kroger, allow you to load digital coupons right to your loyalty card. I search for the extras on my list that I don’t already have coupons for. This is a great way to find deals on items that are hard to find coupons for, such as meat. This week, I found a digital coupon for $1.50 off organic chicken! Score!
Step 6: Make Grocery List
To make things as simple as possible, I categorize this list by different sections of the store. This keeps me on track, and prevents me from wandering off, to let’s say the bakery, and adding extra treats to the cart.
Final Step: Gloat at the Register!
This is the best part – watching the savings at the register. This week I only spent $70.46! Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof. I highlighted the savings to make it a bit easier to understand.
Yellow= coupons I cut from the newspaper
Blue= digital coupons I uploaded to my loyalty card
Pink= Mega event savings (Buy 10 Save Big sale)
And yes, for under $75, not only did I get food for the week but also foil, shampoo and conditioner, magic erasers, bleach, and paper towels!