Monday, October 3, 2011

How I saved money on grocery shopping last month

I am so surprised how much money for grocery shopping we have saved from some easy tips. I did this last month and will continue because I have really liked it.

  • I prepared a shopping list before I go to the grocery store - this will prevent a ton of extra items to end up in your cart. An app on my phone that has worked great for me is "Food on the Table." It works perfect for me. There are lists of recipes (and you can take pictures of your recipes to put into the app) and you choose whichever ones and it pulls the ingredients into another tab and condenses it. The other tab connects your GPS with local stores for deals which is awesome.

  • I focused most of my cooking and shopping for dinners - breakfast is easy and you usually don't need to cook. I'll make sure we have basics like milk, eggs, cereal, and oatmeal and that pretty much covers breakfast for a few weeks. Lunch I make sure I have basics as well but I plan for leftovers many days from going out to dinner or cooking.

  • I didn't plan 7 meals each week to cook - For us, I knew that cooking about 3-4 meals a week was more practical and money saving than cooking 7. First, Chris has a weird schedule so many times we can't sit down and eat so he likes smaller portions of dinner later in the evening. We also eat dinner with his family on Sundays and eat once or twice out during the week.

  • I made slightly larger portions - Some recipes I will cut in half because there are only two of us. But recently I will buy pork chops with 1/2 a pound more so when I cook the meal, I know there will be extras for another dinner or usually lunch is when we eat it. Buying an extra 1/2 or pound of meat is only a $1 or $2 more that can be another meal all ready.

  • Stock up during sales - certain items that are non-perishables that I need (like cereal, lunch snacks etc) I will buy a few of them while they are on sale because I know we will eat them or I buy them every time I go to the store.

  • If I am trying to be healthy, I buy healthy things - Duh, I know this is basic but going through the cupboards I was surprised how many 'junk' foods we had. When we get hungry at night, for some reason that cabinet always opens first instead of the fridge with fresh fruits. Sooo, I wouldn't buy junk things which lead to healthier options when snacking. Chris likes snack foods for lunch so I bought him a few bags of goodies and made him take it to work to leave it at his desk so we wouldn't be tempted to eat junk things at night.

  • When cooking meals, I chose recipes where I only had to buy an additional 3 items or less per recipe - this actually was extremely helpful while cooking last month. I would be looking at recipes and wanting to try them out, but I would have to buy like 7 random ingredients to make it. I have found so many recipes where I have had all of the main ingredients and spices and it was so much more cost effective to buy under 3 ingredients for each meal. That was my rule of thumb for choosing the recipes I did.

  • With extra ingredients I can still find use for them before expiring - one of my favorite recipe sites is It is awesome. One function I like is the ingredient tab where you can write in a few ingredients you want to use and it will bring up recipes. For instance, I used like 1 T of chicken broth for a dinner and had a whole can left I was going to throw out. I typed it into the website and it gave me a ton of recipes but I made Egg Drop Soup with the chicken broth. Or for instance I bought some fresh parsley for a meal I will cook tonight and unfortunately I had to buy a bunch of it, but I will cook another meal using it before it gets bad.

  • We only eat out once or twice a week - when dating we used to eat out more but that would cause us to feel not as healthy and could be a lot of money. We do not eat out during the week and choose a time or two to eat out during the weekend which has saved a lot of money. I make sure to buy foods for lunches so we don't need to eat out because eating out every day can be expensive and add up fast. Many times people think that eating out will be cheaper but if you only need to buy 3 ingredients or less for a meal, I find that cooking can be cheaper for the most part.

  • I knew what I had in my cabinets and fridge - I knew for the most part what I have so I don't end up with 3 bags of sugar or other things like that. Or the worse is going to the grocery store and thinking that you have a certain ingredient and getting home to find out you don't have it.

  • I try to go grocery shopping once every two weeks - when we first moved here I was going like 2-3 times a week. There is no need because that gets more expensive instead of planning ahead for what you might need and I always prepare and keep the cabinets full so I have food on hand. After grocery shopping I would forget a thing or two and would go back to the grocery store a few days later and all of the sudden pay an extra $30 instead of the $5 I needed for the items I was planning to get.