How We Shop For Groceries

After our rent, our main household expense is grocery shopping. We need food to live, and I’m a self proclaimed foodie, so this is understandable. Since this is an expense, we try to save as much money as possible. Even before we moved, Tej and I would grocery shop together, and usually keep the food at his house. Since we moved in together, we’ve changed our grocery shopping routine.

  1. Make a list: Every household has a list of grocery items that they buy on a regular basis. Sometimes healthy foods are on that list, other times sugary snacks are required. On our list, the usual products include frozen vegetables, Foster Farms chicken breasts (they have them individually packaged, and we’ve become fans of it), juice, soda (bad, I know), and pasta. Tej always needs his chewy Chips Ahoy cookies, and I’m always sure that dill pickle spears make the cut.
  2. Search through the sales papers: Just like the rest of our neighbors, we get “junk mail” which typically includes every sales paper available from our local grocery stores. We get papers from Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons, Food4Less, Fresh & Easy, Smart & Final, Stater Brothers, and more. We look to see what’s on sale and match it up with what’s on our list. We then compare prices. On Couple Money, Elle mentions creating a price book. This is similar, but instead I don’t do the leg work, just turning pages. I’ve made a spreadsheet system to make the process easier.
  3. Choose a default store: Once we find out where to buy items for cheapest, we pick them up at those particular stores. For the items that we didn’t find on sale, we choose a default store. A default store is where you go and know the layout like the back of your hand, and who usually has relatively cheap prices. We have 2 default stores: Target and Albertsons. Before we moved, Target was around the corner, but since we moved, we’re now around the corner from Albertsons. It now depends on how far we want to drive.
  4. Set a budget: You can shop forever if you don’t set a budget, or if you don’t shop alone. So we set a budget. We usually go grocery shopping every 2 weeks, so our cut off point is between $100-$150. I remember our first shopping trip when we moved together, we spent a whopping $400 on groceries! The cashier asked if we lost all of our food, haha. We let her know we had an empty fridge and bare cabinets, so we had to buy the staple items.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize: There have been times when we veer off the trail, and buy things that aren’t on the list. Usually those items are less healthy, and more expensive. We try to stick to the list as much as we can. There have also been times when I bought healthier options, trying to convince myself I would finish it (for example, V8 Vegetable Juice) and it’s gone unopened. Waste of money and fridge space.

How does your grocery shopping trip go? I left coupons out of the trip since we rarely use them. Are coupons part of your process?

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8 Responses to How We Shop For Groceries

  1. I buy loss leaders. If I have a coupon for that loss leader, awesome. If not, and the price is still what I am willing to pay, I still buy it.

    We buy meat about once every two – three months (depending on how well I stick to my menu plan!) Since we are military, we go to the Commissary for meat purchases and spend about $200 for 2-3 months worth of meat. For everything else, I shop our local supermarket because they will double my coupons and usually have better sales.

    I always have a list. A Very Detailed List. Complete with prices, quanitity, and total amounts. I also give myself $20 in the budget that is not tied to anything in particular “just in case”.

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