One of the biggest expenses our family has is our grocery budget. We’re a family of six, and my kiddos are home all day because they are homeschooled. Three of our four kids are boys so you can imagine how much food they consume in one day. Every two weeks I have the task of staying within a realistic budget for groceries. Today, I want to share 5 of my secrets for grocery shopping on a budget.
1. Plan Ahead
I won’t step near a grocery store without a plan. When I menu plan, I plan out every single meal—breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner and dessert, if we plan to have it. It helps me know exactly what I am going to the store to get so I am not trying to put meals together in my head while I am shopping. It allows my kids to have a plan so that they know what they can have for snacks. Or, if they want to help cook a meal, they know what to make. Check out our Healthy Meal Planning printable to help you get started.
2. Stay in the Zone
Know your grocery stores. Once I have menu planned, I started making two lists. One for our main grocery store and one for our large-scale wholesale store where I buy items in bulk. Both lists are then created by aisle. For instance, the first heading for my main grocery store is Veggies. That’s the first area that I shop in at that store. The next heading is Cans. Arranging your shopping list by aisle cuts down on your shopping time, as well as saves from the temptation from going down unnecessary aisles and grabbing stuff that isn’t absolutely necessary for your menu.
Since I homeschool, I usually have all four kids with me when I grocery shop. A trip that was going so well could change course in a matter of seconds and go south. I usually give my two oldest kids a few items to go and collect so I don’t have to go down certain aisles. The five-year-old is in charge of grabbing items from a shelf and putting them into the buggy. The 3-year-old is handed a pen and a notebook. By the time the trip is complete, he has filled that pad up with his “notes.” I have learned idle hands mean trouble. Keep each child busy and occupied.
4. Stick to the Plan
What good is a menu plan if you don’t stick to it? Resist the temptation to order in or grab on the go. The only way to do that is to get the ball rolling as soon as you wake up. Look at your menu plan and choose what you want for dinner that evening. What will fit into your schedule that day to make. Then go ahead and grab your meat from the freezer to being the thawing process.
5. Theme It
Dinner doesn’t have to be a chore. Get the kids involved and let it be fun. Allow your children to choose one meal a week that they can be in charge over. I have found tacos to be an easy beginner meal for kids to make and you can theme it by making every Tuesday, Taco Tuesday. I know a few families that do Waffle Sunday and Meatless Friday. Have your kids help you come up with a weekly theme and encourage them to help you with the easy ones.
6. Snack Attack
A hidden budget killer is the snacks. One of the ways that I have been able to combat this problem is by providing them with a snack drawer in the fridge and a snack shelf in the pantry. They are encouraged to have any fruit that is on the counter as well as any snack that is located in the designated areas of the fridge. Some of the snacks that I include in the snack drawer in the fridge are yogurt, cheese, grapes, strawberries, carrot/ranch packets, cut celery with peanut butter, individualized packs of blueberries, and a pack of pepperoni.
I encourage you to help take control of the grocery budget and not let it control you. Planning ahead in all areas of your meals is hard work but worth the effort. The reward is saving money and stress and ultimately eating healthier. Once you have menu planned a few times, you can recycle your older menu plans and use them again. Take the grocery challenge today and start saving money!
What are your secrets for saving money at the grocery store?
Tara Norman is a homeschoolng SAHM to four kids and has been married 10 years to the love of her life, Paul Norman.