Penny Wise: Before You Shop

Having a well thought out and planned grocery shop for me is absolutely key to saving money AND it helps my weekly shopping trip run smoothly. That is something that I strive for, knowing I’ll be toting two or three little ones around with me. Here are a few tricks that I use to get myself started:

  • A Running List. To start I have a list that I bought a few years ago from here that I have hanging inside of my cupboards. During the week when I think of things that I need I will write them on my list because if not, I’m bound to forget stuff. This grocery shopping list is great because it’s organized into categories that make it quick to write things down when I need to.
  • Check the weekly ad. Every Sunday when our local paper is delivered the first thing I check is my local ads. I look for sales on stock-up items and ideas for meals for the week. I circle items and use that as a reference when I make my meal plan for the week and grocery list.
  • Write a meal plan. To save the most amount of money and have the most efficient shop, I like to plan ahead. That means I plan every lunch and dinner for the week (I always keep certain go to breakfast in the freezer and in stock as well but rarely actually plan them out). I bought this meal planning chart from Delightful Order as well and laminated it so I could use it over and over. Then I go through what I already have in my pantry to make meals and go through the sales to finalize my meal plan.
  • Making a list and checking it twice. My goal every week is to ONLY get the items on my list. This keeps me from getting junk just because it looks good at the moment (I really can’t go to the grocery store hungry). I try and be as detailed as possible. I also check all of my recipes for the week and make sure that I got everything that I need for them on the list because those trips where I just have to get a “few things” always end up to be more expensive than necessary.

Besides planning there are few more tricks that I have found to help cut costs when grocery shopping. Here is a list of Dos and Do Nots that have saved me both time and money.

  • Do check and see if your store has a loyalty program. The store that I go to has electronic coupons that can be uploaded to the system and all I need is my phone number and pin code to retrieve them at check out. Also they just started some reward systems where you get money back after you spend a certain amount in a month or on specific items like baby stuff.
  • Do look for coupons for frequently used items on a clipping service website (check back with the Penny Wise series as that will be an upcoming topic).
  • Do buy toiletries from pharmacy stores like CVS. They tend to have a bigger reward system and you can normally get things like shampoo and cosmetics at a much cheaper price.
  • Do look for instant coupons on the front of packages and make sure you take them off and hand them to a cashier as they most likely will not be looking for them.
  • Do NOT go to the grocery store hungry or around a child’s nap time. Both of these situations are possible set ups for failure.

  • Do NOT be afraid to stock up on certain items. If your family uses a lot of hot sauce, check for sales and coupons to stack together to buy six months’ worth until the next big sale. This may add a few dollars to that week’s grocery bill but you’ll save a lot of money in the long run because you won’t have to purchase that item for full price when you need it next.
  • Do NOT forget to use your home resources. If you have a small garden and the tomatoes got out of hand, do some canning (check back with the Penny Wise series for more on canning later). Do you have a lot of zucchini that’s about to go bad? You can grate it and freeze it in two cup portions to use in zucchini bread or to moisten a cake later in the year.

One Response to Penny Wise: Before You Shop

  1. I ADORE this series! I recently started couponing, and love to read other mama’s successes and tips. Thank you!

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