By Nina, Contributing Writer
My switch to real food happened in the midst of getting out of debt. We had already been spending very little on groceries, so I knew that in order to switch to more nutritious whole foods, I’d need to become a better grocery-shopping ninja to feed our family without slowing down our debt snowball.
In my quest to save money on groceries, I learned that it was essential for me to have a plan. I discovered that not only were there ways to lower costs before I left to go grocery shopping, but while I was at the store as well. They are quite simple, yet effective:
For me, this is a luxury. I normally take all 4 kids grocery shopping with me and, as you can imagine, it’s … interesting. When I manage to go by myself, I move through the store much faster, quickly getting what I need – with no unnecessary stops. (Unless of course, I’m in Kroger. That store is magical to me and I just love to meander through it without anyone begging to put treats in the cart.)
The faster I can get through the store, the less likely I am to wander down every aisle, picking up new things that sound good but are not on my list.
Use a List
If you aren’t shopping with a list, you’re probably buying things you don’t need, that might even go to waste. I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan before you leave and know exactly what you need to buy. Of course, there are times when I get to the store and remember something that I needed but forgot to put on my list, but it is usually just a few items.
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the wisdom to not shop hungry. When you shop hungry, everything looks good. This typically leads to impulse buying, with you going home with a lot more food than you budgeted for. And possibly a stop at the deli for a corn dog or pizza stick … You know that decision will come back to haunt you. (Totally speaking from experience here).
Before you head out for groceries have a meal that will fill you up. And don’t forget to pack some snacks.
The more I go to the grocery store, the more money I spend. Sound logic, right? But many people (myself included) will find themselves running to the store whenever they run out of a food item and then see something else that they think they need.
If you can make do without what you’ve run out of, don’t run out and buy it. Get creative and use something else you have on hand. Wait until you have a list with at least 10 items on it before you head to the grocery store. It will save you money.
I got to the point where I had to take my debit cards out of my wallet and only shop with a certain amount of cash. This really helped me to be intentional about my purchases. Because we use a cash envelope system, I try to only take the amount I think I’ll need plus $10 to $15 extra, in case I remember something that I needed but didn’t put on my list. It happens a lot, ok. Mommy brain.
I can look at my list and roughly estimate what everything will cost. It gets much easier as you shop to stock your pantry and buy the same things all the time.
The most fun thing is when you get to the store and find that everything on your list is on sale and you have a bunch of money left over. That’s when I get a special kombucha treat and some dried mango slices.
How do you save money at the grocery store?