Money Monday: Smart Ideas for a Grocery Bonanza

eating, budget, food, savings, coupons, prep, planning, mealgro

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Shopping for groceries can be a stressful chore.  There’s a never-ending list of things that you, your spouse, and your kids keep throwing in the cart, racking up cost and busting your budget.

However, it can also be therapeutic!  It could be a great way to start the week off on the healthiest, and most budget friendly path—a chance to plan ahead and buy nourishing food for you and your family at the best price. Either way, the biggest challenge has always been getting out of the store with only the items on your list. The next time you plan to head out to the grocery store, use these tips to keep your wallet and your family happy.

Meal planning and shopping lists

Plan your trip with these tips in mind:

Plan your meals for the week before you head to the grocery store. That way you can create your grocery list for the week based on ingredients you need for your meals.
Know what you already have on hand – organize your pantry and fridge so you can get a better idea of what you need at the grocery store. For example, if you think you are out of deli meat but you find it behind the milk, why spend more money only to waste it?
When planning out your weekly shopping, don’t forget to include healthy snack items to your list.
Pay attention to ingredients that you can use in more than one dish, helping avoid waste and stretch your dollar.
Limit your “trial” foods or products to one or two new items per trip. Look for sample sizes – if it’s something you wouldn’t buy again you aren’t spending a lot of money experimenting.
Create a grocery budget based on the items you need for the week and stick to it! This includes snacks, household items, condiments to store for later, and trial items.

Coupons and savings

Get more power out of coupons and bargains with these tips:

Grocery and retail stores offer plenty of coupon and saving apps, available right at your fingertips—you just need to find the right deals that fit you and your family. Kroger and Walmart have apps that will help you create shopping lists, and download applicable coupons as you check out. Target offers Cartwheel and SavingStar, to help you get better discounts as you shop and don’t forget your weekly savings flyer that most grocery stores have as you walk in.
Plan ahead with these apps, flyers, or grocery websites and decide what meals to make for the week based on what’s on sale. Keep an eye out for sale items that you can stock up on, whether it’s pantry, meat, or seasonal produce items.
Save money by visiting your local farmer’s markets. It is best to go at the end of the day, because most of the sellers are loading up and would rather sell their products to you than take them home—it’s a win-win for both of you.
Pay attention to when your favorite items go on sale, and your budget doesn’t need to budge.

Smarter ways to grocery shop

A better way to shop begins with these tips:

Read all food labels when you are shopping down the aisles of a grocery store. Compare brands by looking at the “price per ounce” to ensure you actually get the most for your money instead of being tricked by the package sizes.
Use your phone calculator or bring one with you when shopping to keep track of how much you spend to guarantee you aren’t over your budget. Don’t forget to add on those snacks and trial items we mentioned earlier.
Buy store brands of your favorite products, they tend to be less expensive, and buy from “bulk bins” if you are buying pantry packaged foods.
Buy less expensive cuts of meat in large quantities and freeze them for later.

Other tips and tricks

Use these tips to help at home:

Plan your meal prep for the week to make it easier on you, like freezer meals for nights when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Some ideas for meal prepping include:

– Cooking rice, potatoes, pasta, or any other starch for the week
– Washing and cutting vegetables and fruit
– Making sandwiches for the kids
– Organizing all your ingredients into labeled bags or Tupperware
– Making double batches and freezing one for another day

Invest in a slow cooker for those less expensive cuts of meat, which tend to be tougher. Slow cookers are also great at freeing up your time on nights when cooking dinner is the last thing you want to do.

Finally, repurpose all your leftovers and make sure nothing goes to waste. You can even use some of your leftovers to create delicious casseroles, soups, sauces, crockpot meals, or whatever else you think of. If you find you are wasting more than saving, make a note for the next time you go grocery shopping.

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