One of the top questions I get asked is how I shop for our family. Many people are shocked when I tell them we feed our family of 7 on $400 a month. I don't use coupons and I stick to two stores, Wal-Mart and a day old bread store.
It's taken me a few years to figure all of this out. I tried couponing, driving to other stores for sales, using apps, and paying attention to flyers. None of those worked for me. I just need to get to the store and get out without having to mess with coupons or apps.
Here is how I do it.
I start off by planning all our dinners. For our family dinner is the most expensive meal. I can easily plan breakfast and lunch, more on that later. I first figure out how many dinners I need to plan for. So for January, I will need 31 dinners. I grab a notebook and number the lines 1 to 31. I automatically give myself 4 "free" days as I like to call them. These are times we will eat leftovers or go out to dinner. After I do that I finish planning for the rest of the days. I add in my lunches and breakfasts by writing out all the things we will eat. Example: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, leftover dinner, etc. And for breakfast I know we eat oatmeal, eggs, toast, Cheerios, pancakes, yogurt, etc.
After I have my meal plan I go through the list and count up what I need to buy meat wise. I write all of that into my list and try to buy in bulk, if I can. I can later separate and freeze meat when I get home. Once I have all my dinner, lunch, and breakfast grocery list made out I add in snacks.
I shop at Wal-Mart for almost all of our food. I compare the prices and ingredients and try to make the best choice. After doing this for so many shopping trips you learn what brands to buy for your family. I will also buy things in bulk, like pancake mix. This way I can make up a bunch of pancakes and freeze them. I stick to my list the best I can. For bread, I shop at a local day old bread store. We buy 15 to 20 loafs of bread and freeze them in our deep freezer.
Throughout the month I will check off the things I have made for my family. I try to plan out what I will make for dinner a week at a time so I stay on track. Of course, through the month we might need milk or other odds and ends we run out of. But the majority of my shopping is done on one day for that month.
Keep Your Lists
Keep your lists. For the following months, I look back at the previous month and plan out that month. I take a few meals out and add in new ones. I take the previous grocery list and work off that for what I need to get for the upcoming month. This saves me so much time.
What you end up spending on your family on groceries will depend on what you buy and where you live. For our family, I choose to make simple meals and limit the number of processed foods we buy. Because of where we live fresh produce is hard to come by for decent prices, especially in the winter.
I hope you find this helpful. Just remember that what works for my family might not work for yours. It takes time to figure it all out and have a plan in place that works well for you and your family.
What are your tips and tricks for grocery shopping?