Let me start out by saying that I HATE grocery shopping! To be honest, hate is probably not a strong enough word. I LOATHE grocery shopping, ESPECIALLY with kids in tow.
Grocery shopping it itself gives me total anxiety! I can’t explain it, but it just does. I think it’s just the whole budgeting thing. I mean I have to make sure that the grocery money lasts throughout the entire month. Kids can’t survive on Little Debbie cakes alone (or can they???). And if the kids are with me, all I hear is’ “Mama, can I have….” I mean how many times can I say “no” in one day? A lot…. I can say it a lot. Sorry, kiddos.
So…we have a family of 6. My husband, myself, 4 kids (and 2 dogs which I should count since I do have to feed them). It is not cheap to feed a family of 6 as I’m sure you all know whether you have a large family or not. Groceries are expensive! Not to mention all of the other household things that one must buy. HELLO….we need toilet paper!
No matter how hard I tried, I was going over-budget EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH. And more times than not, it was always because of my food budget. Most of the time, to be honest, it was because of my poor planning habits. Since I didn’t have anything planned for dinner, we would end up eating take-out or just running by the store to get something “quick and easy.” And because budgeting is such a necessary part of my existence these days, I had to come up with ways to save on my grocery bill, and here they are. I hope this also helps others who may be struggling with this as well.
Before you click off the page, hear me out. Making a meal plan doesn’t have to be hard. As moms, this is something we do anyway, we just don’t always do it in an organized fashion. So, how do we make this easier?
Start by making a list of all the foods that you normally cook. You know, we all have those go-to recipes that we use over and over. Don’t start out trying to invent new recipes and be all Pinteresty. You can do that later, once you get the hang of things. Try to get 2 weeks worth of meals (we will eventually graduate to a month at a time). Then, just assign those meals to days of the week (example: Monday-spaghetti, green beans, rolls). The idea here is to create a monthly menu that you only need to plan once and you can use over and over. I have a very nifty post on How To Meal Plan Successfully if you want to check it out!
2. Make a List
Take your menu that you created and make your grocery list. Of course, you will also have to add some staples to your list such as milk, eggs, etc, but, for the most part, only add things that are on your menu. If you already know that you are going to buy some chocolate chip cookies, add them to the list. That way, you don’t sabotage yourself and give up right away!
Now, for the hard part, GO SHOPPING! And ONLY buy what’s on the list! If it’s not on the list, you don’t get it. Do you know why? Most of the time when I buy things just because I feel like I’m supposed to (think lettuce), it goes in the bottom drawer to die. If I don’t have it designated for a specific meal, it’s really a useless purchase, even if it’s healthy and I think I need it. It eventually gets tossed….money down the drain. So sad.
3. Shop at ALDI
The #1 way that I save money is by shopping at ALDI. Ya’ll I didn’t discover this wonderland of grocery savings until about a year or two ago. I mean, I’ve heard of it before, but I have had BAD experiences in the past buying groceries from “budget stores”, and I was just really not interested. Not to mention the closest ALDI is over an hour away! But one weekend, we were going to be near an ALDI store anyway, so we thought we would give it a shot. I was AMAZED at the savings!
I am from a very rural area, and choices for grocery shopping are few. The discount stores that are local leave a lot to be desired. Also, our state charges sales tax on food, and our closest ALDI is right across state lines where there is NO sales tax. So even though it takes a little planning, it is completely worth it to make a grocery haul. We try to go once a month. If I had an ALDI closer, I would probably meal plan for 2 weeks instead of an entire month, just to make it feel more manageable, but this works for us! Grocery shopping with 4 kids in tow is not fun, no matter how you look at it, so I try to go as few times as possible.
4. Go ALONE…funny, right?
If at all possible, do your grocery shopping alone. You can really save some cash when you don’t have everyone asking for every little thing that they see. Taking kids with you can really destroy your plan if you aren’t careful and ready to say, “No” many, many times.
If you do have to take them with you (which I completely understand because 95% of the time, I do), give them all a job. When my 4 and I go shopping the oldest (12) is in charge of reading the list and checking it off, my son (7) is in charge of pushing the cart, and my daughter (6) is in charge of getting the things and putting them in the cart. I am just the supervisor who makes sure things go as smoothly as possible (yeah, right), and I try to keep the baby contained (19 mo).
If everyone does their job well, they get to pick ONE thing that they want. You have to stick to your guns here, Moms! THIS IS KEY! If one person doesn’t cooperate, it throws off the entire operation. The first time I did this, my son left empty-handed because he decided that he wanted to throw a fit in the store and not help (because I wouldn’t buy some kind of junk food that he was wanting). But guess what? Now everyone knows that Mama means business, and if you want to get your treat, you have to play on the team.
So basically it comes down to a little planning and organization, which anyone who knows me will tell you this is not my cup of tea. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl. So if I can do it, you definitely can do it! Sometimes we do what we have to in order to get where we want to go!
I am working on some printables and things to help you (and me) out. Right now, I just scribble it all down on a piece of paper lol, so I know there is a better way! So check back soon!