Own Your Grocery Shopping!

Published on 22 August 2020 at 13:37

In the not so distant past, I was not a good grocery shopper or meal planner. I would go to the grocery store, spend way too much money, and not have much actual food to show for it. I made a lot of impulse buys and bought too many snacks and not enough actual dinner food. Back then, my husband was a much better shopper and did most of the grocery runs.


Then, we had our second baby and I started staying home during the week with the kids. It started to make a lot more sense for me to take charge of the groceries. I’m happy to say, after some practice and trial and error, I have surpassed my husband in grocery skills.


One problem that we used to have was setting unrealistic expectations for the grocery budget. My husband is a great financial planner (he does have a finance degree) and sets a great plan every week for groceries, bills, savings, etc. We used to set the grocery budget too low and either went way over budget or stayed on budget and ran out of snacks or breakfast food.


If you are buying everything you need and nothing more, then look at the actual amount you are spending each week and set your goal to spend the average. For example, we looked at our bank statement and saw that we were spending anywhere from 180 to 240 each week, so we set our budget at 200 and staying close to that amount that has been very doable.



Even before this pandemic started, I was a frequent user of Instacart. Instacart prices are a little higher than in-store, but I find that I still usually save money because it helps me stay on budget and avoid impulse buys. Plus, it’s convenient and a time-saver to avoid the store, especially with young children. Instacart allows you to view your total (minus the fees and/or tip added at the end) as you shop so you are not surprised at checkout. Recently, I have begun choosing store pickup instead of delivery because there are fewer fees involved and I still don’t have to leave my car.


When I do shop in the store, I use the calculator on my phone to keep track of my total. As I put each item in the cart, I add it on my calculator. I find this a necessity for me when trying to spend a certain amount and buying a large number of items.


Before I became a decent cook, I relied heavily on Emeals for meal planning. Emeals provides the recipes and shopping list, and you can even use it with Instacart to make things super simple. There are meal plans for all types of dietary restrictions and preferences, and different subscription options. I became pretty good at cooking in the years that I used Emeals and learned about a lot of ingredients that I had been unfamiliar with before and are now staples at our house. There is sometimes more cost involved outside of the subscription with buying more ingredients for the wide variety of dishes in the menus, but if meal planning is not your thing, (at least not yet) then Emeals is a great option.


To really become efficient at grocery shopping it does take planning. Dinner is our main meal, so I always start with that. We buy groceries once a week and usually get takeout on Fridays, so I shop for 6 dinners. We have fish for dinner one or two times per week depending on if there are any good deals on wild caught seafood that week. I am very picky about the meat that I buy. I check for sales on grass fed ground beef and organic chicken. I buy two pounds of grass fed ground beef which we use for burrito bowls one night, and maybe with gluten free pasta another night. Then, I frequently buy a whole organic chicken to roast. That always has leftovers for lunch the next day.


For the last two meals, I buy some type of dry beans, split peas, or lentils. I make sure that I am well stocked with frozen vegetables, brown rice, and quinoa. I buy the beans, peas, lentils, brown rice and quinoa from the bulk bins. (During the pandemic, the bulk bin items are pre-bagged into various amounts, but still the same price.) Each evening when cooking dinner, I will make either some brown rice or quinoa and grab a bag of frozen vegetables to season and put in the oven or on the stove.


On Sundays, my husband preps his lunches for the week. He cooks ground turkey and quinoa with diced tomatoes, so I make sure to get those ingredients for him during my weekly shopping.


Then, I focus on breakfast. We have a big breakfast on Saturday mornings, usually eggs, bacon, fruit, and pancakes that we make from scratch. I make sure that we have plenty of flour, which I also buy from the bulk bins. During the week, we have simpler breakfasts. Greek yogurt and granola, sourdough bread and butter, fruit, and home made smoothies. I am a big hot tea drinker, and my husband usually has a single cup of coffee.


The kids and I eat lunch at home, so I just get some simple things to munch on, because they are always too busy to sit and eat a meal anyway. Sometimes, I will get cheese cubes, organic hot dogs, sourdough bread with peanut butter, fruit, or sliced veggies.



After the meals are all accounted for, I fill in the gaps. We go through a gallon of organic, grass fed milk each week and cook with butter or olive oil. My 4 year old is a bottomless pit and wants snacks constantly, so I make sure that they are healthy. We load up on whatever fruit is in season. In the summer, we buy TONS of watermelon, peaches, nectarines, and berries. The kids loves fruit for snacks. They also have a great fondness for cucumbers. They will eat them like apples; no slicing or peeling required! Then I stock up on a few snacks that we like; gluten free pretzels and maybe some tortilla chips. I usually sneak myself a sweet treat to have in the evenings after the kids are asleep. Shhhh, don’t tell!


Lastly, I check my total and make sure I am not over budget, then I go through everything in my cart and make sure I didn’t get anything that we don’t need or already have at home. That’s about it! Shopping done for another week!


What’s your grocery strategy?

Add comment


There are no comments yet.