Like many families, we need to keep within a budget for our groceries every week. My budget remains steady at $50 a month for my family of 4. Lots of readers ask how I do it – so here are my secrets:
1. Be Prepared!
There’s nothing worse than going to the grocery store unprepared. If I do I end up spending WAY more than I want to. So I keep a strict list and buy only those items. Nothing more. I prepare my list by:
Checking out matchups. I have several matchups for grocery stores, superstores, and drug stores. I first look at the matchups of the store I am going to to find out what the super deals are. Yesterday I had to head out to my local Safeway, so I pulled up my Safeway matchups and saw there was a great deal on Barilla Pasta, so I noted the coupon I needed for that deal and then pulled them from my files. You can never have too much pasta or pasta sauce in my mind and I wasn’t going to miss out on $.38 for some!
I also looked at my Safeway Just 4 U app (check to see if your local store has an app!) and found some REALLY great deals I could load to my card, like $.99 Ocean Spray Blueberry juice. I had a coupon for $1 off that I pulled up in my Coupon Database. So guess what? FREE!! I also found more awesome personalized deals for some great products. The nice thing about it is that I can make my list right there. Be sure to check if your grocery store has one.
I also needed some meats, but need to also plan my dinners for next week, so I used another awesome app (Food on the Table - free app). This app allowed me to see what meats were on sale (along with other sale stuff) and plan my meals for next week around those sales. I checked my pantry for what I had and don’t have to buy any extra ingredients (a plus!). Since I had picked up some great canned fruits like pineapple from a previous sale we will be enjoying yummy Hawaiian Chicken Tacos next week!
2. Shop Alone – If You Can!
My favorite time to grocery shop is either toward the end of the day or early morning when my husband is home and can watch the kids. There’s nothing more difficult than shopping with children! I try to avoid it at all costs. I get easily distracted trying to keep them happy and kids often will try to get you to buy something not on the list. Plus - shopping early will get you the freshest produce and meats. Shopping late will often get you some great discounts as stores generally mark down by 5pm. Plus it’s less crowded.
3. Use Cash or A Pre-Paid Card
This will help you avoid the temptation of going over your budget. I like to use the free American Express Prepaid Card. Right now there is an awesome promo – get a $50 prepaid card and they will send you a $10 Gift Card FREE until July 31st. You can also start a completely separate account with ING Direct that will allow you to transfer your grocery budget over with a couple of clicks PLUS a $50 bonus for opening. I also use ING on my iphone and highly recommend it – and it’s ALL a free service too!
4. Shop More Than One Store If Convenient
My local shopping center has both a Safeway and a Rite Aid, so I often shop at both to maximize my savings without using extra gas. Follow the steps above if your shopping center has more than one too!