When we spoke about why planning your grocery trips will save you money, I promised to tell you how I plan my trips.
Before I explain how I plan my trips, I must confess: I spend the least of all when I send my husband with a list.
Lists are powerful.
“If you ever walk into a store without a plan,” writes Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar, “it’s highly likely you’re going to walk out the door with something you didn’t intend to buy.”
Do you think it’s any accident that grocery stores place the bakery section — with its pink-frosted doughnuts and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies in see-through containers — at the entrance to the store?
Strategic placement could also be why staples like milk, bread, and eggs are at the far end, according to Technorati’s 5 Ways Grocery Stores Get You to Spend More Money.
Here are the ways I plan my trips to help keep things simple and organized, save time and stress, and spend less.
1. Keep a running grocery list in the kitchen
As you run out of things — or if your kids happen to say, “Mom, when are you going to buy some more kale?” — jot them down immediately.
2. Lock in a grocery trip on the same day every week
We set ourselves up for cook-at-home failure if we don’t have enough food in the house. Grocery shopping, like exercising, is not my favorite thing. But if it must happen every week on a set day, I am much less likely to wriggle out of it.
I actually order my groceries online every weekend. Ask me about online grocery shopping — I love it!
3. Bulk up the list with weekly sales
It’s just too hard to pick up the sales flyer as you’re entering the store and expect to take advantage of even a tenth of the deals.
Review at home your favorite store’s sales flyer — online or via the circular that comes in the mail or with the paper. Write down foods at a good price that your family likes or you would like to try. This is a great way to vary your diet and try new things.
Keep in mind that some foods always costs less and are unlikely to ever be on sale, such as cabbage, rice, bananas, beans, and eggs. Of the meats, pork, chicken, and ground beef usually cost the least.
4. Check your pantry and fridge to fill in any gaps
Here is where you want to think about not overbuying fruits and vegetables that can go bad, while making sure you have enough food for snacks, breakfasts, and packed dinners or lunches, as well as any events where you are required to bring food. All this is so you won’t be tempted to buy prepared stuff — the silent budget-buster.
If you’ll need other ingredients to complete recipes, make sure you write those down too.
And that’s really it! Some people use coupons and meal planning, and we can talk about those too. But grocery planning is a super simple routine that can do wonders for cutting our food bills and keeping life organized.
What about you? Do you plan your trips? What makes you call the Pizza Guy?