Grocery shopping is important to get under control because we can easily end up spending a lot of our budgeted funds feeding the troops. Some targeted attention can almost always reduce the number unless you are already cutting to the bone–but for most of us (thank Gd!) we don’t have to.
What kind of shopper are you? You can be extremely frugal with a monthly budget of $40 for 6 people or simply buy whatever your heart desires (and spend $2000 a month!) Most of us fall somewhere in between.
There are several ways to grocery shop:
- Buying anything you want, no matter the price (if it sounds good, get the things to make it )
- Buying what’s on sale when you get to the store and working with that
- Going from store to store collecting the best bargains and stocking up
Most people fall somewhere in the middle of these–I know I do! Sometimes, I really am in the mood for something, so even if it’s not at a rock-bottom price, I’ll buy it. Sometimes, I go to more than one store getting just the best deals at each. But usually, I combine what I have in the pantry with what is on sale at the stores to choose where to shop that week and what we’ll have. I stock up when things are low (a price book is awesome for this!) and try not to buy when they are full price, and leave some room in my menu planning to accommodate that. And we get some goodies, too, like my kids’ favorite Entemann’s donuts for Shabbat morning. (Every so often, they go on sale for half price and we snatch up about 20 for the freezer).
Where do you fall?
Another determinant for your shopping bill is how often you shop. In some countries, it is the norm to go nearly every day. I’ve also heard of a once a month trip (or even more spaced out!) I tend to end up going twice a week: once a bigger shopping trip to make most of our dishes and once a smaller trip for additional produce and dairy, maybe meat or chicken for Shabbat. But remember, the fewer trips you make through the aisles, the less you’ll spend! Limiting shopping trips (of all kinds, actually) can help your budget.
It’s time to think about the list. You know it’s helpful to go with a list! It’s not set in stone, so you can still be flexible and fun. I usually go through the circulars and seek out some inspiration or requests from the family, and then make a menu plan based on what is on sale and what I currently have. Then the rest is written on the list. I also have my regular staples (flour, rice, ketchup, etc.) on the list and just circle it when it runs out. Here is my grocery list (word doc). I also keep it with my menu plan so you can adjust either depending on what you find.
Oh, and remember that list you just spent 20 minutes working on? No really, remember that list! Be sure to bring it when you actually go shopping. It doesn’t do nearly as much good when it’s sitting on the table, and your family might not be so excited to read it to you several times as you jot it down on the back of another receipt. Just saying.
I am working on minimizing trips right now. Every trip I skip saves my family money. And there are very few things that are really a need when you think about it–if we’re out of crunchy peanut butter, creamy would work. Or cream cheese, or something altogether different. Although that can be a tough pill for crunchy loving little kids to swallow sometimes!
Now that you’ve thought about your shopping behaviors, can you see room to improve? Where can you adjust your habits?