Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

A couple weeks ago, a group of us sat down and talked personal budgeting.  Some of the girls were impressed that I budget only $600 a month for groceries for a family of 4.  So today I wanted to talk about my grocery shopping process.

First up, have a budget and stick to it.  I grocery shop once a week, so I have $150/week to spend on groceries. 

Next step, is you need to plan.  Planning is key to this whole process.  I first start with a weekly meal plan.  By doing this, I am focusing on what I need to buy for my meals, eliminating putting extra “stuff” on my grocery list – essentially buying what you need.  This consists of going through my cupboards/fridge/freezers to see what I have available, in conjunction with looking through flyers to see what “deals” are on this week.  I have been at this for a while and pay attention to prices so I know what I am willing to pay for items and I also have comparison shopped between stores.  I do try to buy certain items at Walmart and Costco because I have done my research, I am that person with their calculator out at Costco looking at the cost/unit and comparing to pictures of prices I have previously taken at other grocery stores and compare costs.  However, I also do not have time to go to 3 different places to grocery shop per week.  So I keep a list of stuff that I am getting low on where I know significant savings can be made at Costco/Walmart and will buy on the next Costco run, and try to incorporate my meal plan to not include those items if I can’t make it there for a couple weeks. 
Comparison Pricing

The List

A little messy, but none the less it is a meal plan

Ok, so here is an example of my meal planning process for this particular week.  Some of the meat I have in my freezer is a moose roast, shrimp, elk hamburger and elk steaks.  That is my meat for four meals this week.  Whole chickens were on sale at Safeway and I was happy with the price (compared it to Walmart), so that is another meal.  I will have chicken left over so I will make a chicken salad for lunch the next day.  I always have veggies left over at the end of the week so I will make a stir-fry.  As I am planning out my meals, I am making a grocery list.  The list also includes prices beside it, so I can see at any given time where my numbers are at.  I also look at prices in the flyers.  For example, I may love bananas, but apples are going to cost me less this week, so apples it is.  Remember, coupons are our friends and pay attention to deals that your store it putting on.  They may have customer appreciation days (get 10% off your groceries on Tuesdays, spend $100 and get a $10 voucher, etc).

Once I have my list it is off to the store with my willingness to stick to it.  Temptation is hard when you grocery shop, then insert shopping with your kids who want everything.  What I try to do is explain we are sticking to the items on the list and I usually say if they help me out grocery shopping and not ask for things, they can have $2 to spend on something.  This week they wanted donuts for dessert for supper, and they were delish by the way.

OK, we are now going through the aisles, and we are paying attention to prices.  I have mushrooms on my list, so I look at all the different brands of canned mushrooms and go with the cheapest price.  Some items I just can’t go with the generic store brand (which is usually the cheaper price), but if you have no brand/taste attachment go with the cheapest.  It is interesting once you start paying attention to see what the cost variance can be between brands.  Even within brands, like packaging makes a difference.  For example, to buy a 1 litre of milk in a plastic container costs more than a 1 litre cardboard container.  I am also comparing prices on my list to what I am actually paying so I know I am staying within my total budget.

My total came to $127, I was even impressed that I came in $1 over my calculated $126

Again, planning is key because you are limiting your shopping to what you need.  Planning your meals also helps you not to eat out.  How many times have you said, I don’t know what to make for supper so lets’ just go out.  You can also get creative and have fun.  On this particular meal planning day, Bentley really wanted to go out for supper.  We came up with the idea of having a restaurant at our house.  I was the cook and she was the waitress.  We made menus, decorated the table and the men were our customers.  It was a lot of fun!