Grocery Shopping 101

First of all, I’ve had A LOT of people asking about making multiple copies of my Everyday Fall Winter Menu Planning cookbook to give as gifts, so I’ve set up separate discounted pricing (ranging from $3-$8) for additional copies-you can check out the pricing by clicking HERE and scrolling to the section entitled “Want to Make More than One Copy?”.

Okay…it’s now time to talk about another dreaded portion of menu planning…dum, dum, dum….GROCERY SHOPPING.  Now, I know a lot of you really hate this.  (I actually LOVE to do it-but that is another story for another post…)  There are two parts to grocery shopping, 1) making your list and 2) actually doing it.  So here are my top tips for getting the job done efficiently and easily.

MAKING YOUR LIST

This can sometimes be the hardest part with so many ads to go through and so little time-so let me break it down for you…

  1. If you’re short on time only look at the front and last page of each ad-this is where they place the BEST sale items (so if you’re wondering if it’s a good price-most likely, these prices are the best they have to offer).  A lot of times the middle pages are full of regular priced items that they are hoping you’ll think are on sale since it’s listed in their ad.
  2. Keep an ongoing list in your kitchen of what you need to buy-this will make it easy for you to know the MUST items on your list with out having to jog your memory which will save you on those last minute trips to the store because you forgot something.
  3. After you know what is on sale make your menu around those items-so if broccoli is on sale, it may be the perfect time to make Beef and Broccoli or Chicken Divan, if ground beef is on sale it may just be the perfect time to have Sloppy Joes…you get the idea.  This will not only help you decide what to make that week but will also save you money.
  4. Categorize your list-organize it by what you are getting at each store and then group the items together (i.e. all the frozen foods together, etc.)
  5. Look for coupons- You don’t have to do this but if you are into couponing there are a lot of online resources to help you (www.couponmom.com, www.coupontom.com or www.theobsessiveshopper.net) I usually do a quick run through to see if there are any online coupons I can print.

GETTING THE SHOPPING DONE

Here are my top tips for getting the grocery shopping done.

  1. When you purchase something you’re running out of, buy two. The plan is to always have at least one on hand (to help build your 3 month supply)
  2. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry or you’ll be tempted to buy items not on your list-items you don’t really need.
  3. If you have kids-don’t try and sneak a quick trip to the store in with hungry and or tired kids.  It just isn’t worth it (says the mom who has left the grocery store completely embarrassed with two melting down crying kids).  Go after nap time or early in the morning when they are more likely to cooperate with you.
  4. If you don’t know if the price of an item is high or low, watch the price for a couple of weeks.
  5. Get your cold andfrozen items at the emd. This will keep these important items…well cold and frozen!
  6. Shop at off-peak times. If you shop late at night or early in the morning during the week, you can often find meat and baked goods at clearance prices.  And best of all, the checkout lines will be short!  I finally decided it was worth it to hit Wal-mart at 8:30 in the morning because it is VACANT.  No lines and not a lot of people-I can get in and out in 30 minutes or less-a miracle if you’ve ever shopped Wal-mart around 11:00!
  7. Shop multiple stores at once! If you have a Super Wal-mart near you, you can price match competitors ads.  That is like shopping all the stores near you at one store!  This is what I do and it saves a A TON of time.  If you’ve never price matched before it’s really simple,here is what I do…I separate my cart into “price match” and “non-price match” items.  I send the non-price match items on the conveyor belt first and TELL the checker that I also have price match items.  (The easier you can make it for the checker-the better your outcome will be.)  Then all you need to do is tell the checker what the price of the price match items should be and show it to them on the ad.  (Some checkers don’t care to see the ad but some do-so I always keep the ads in my purse-that way if I’m making an impromptu visit to the store I can check all the prices and then compare it to the Wal-mart price and get the cheapest price around town.)  It may sound like a lot of work-but trust me it is much faster and cheaper to make ONE trip (especially with multiple kids) than several trips to visit all the local grocery stores.  NOTE: Wal-mart won’t match store specific coupons (like a coupon specifically for that store-they WILL accept manufacturer coupons) and they won’t match buy one get one free sales.  Also, if the item on sale is a store brand, i.e. Kroger, all you need to do is purchase the Wal-mart brand and they will match the price.

Do you have a great tip that I didn’t think of?  PLEASE SHARE and leave a comment with what you do to make your list making and grocery shopping easier!

© 2010, Crystal. All rights reserved.

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