Updated: Dec 9, 2019
I have a love-hate relationship with grocery shopping. It's one of those recurring tasks that you can't put off; you have to eat right? Since embarking on our debt free journey, I've made an intentional effort to save money on monthly cash expenses. For us this includes groceries, entertainment + miscellaneous funds. Anything saved at the end of the month gets put toward debt in the form of our home equity loan (heloc). This gives me more incentive to save + be frugal when possible. Gone are the days when I mindlessly peruse the aisles of Central Market/PCC/Whole Foods without list in hand, or daily last minute trips to the grocery store. Frankly, in my experience frugality + time efficiency go hand in hand.
Don't shop hungry - this may seem obvious, but go grocery shopping post meal or bring a snack to tide you over. You just spend more money on an empty stomach.
Shop the perimeter - we primarily shop for whole foods and supplement in small amounts with our grab and go snack items in the form of RX bars, tortilla chips, cereal + pouches. Buying whole foods + sticking to the produce section is way cheaper up front + for your overall health.
Buy generic brands - as a former grocery snob (ok current, I still love all the gorgeous health food stores), I opt for generic whenever possible. I'm also eager to try Brandless. This company carries organic, non-gmo, dietary restriction friendly foods + household goods without the brand markup. All orders over $39 are free with a monthly membership option.
Shop at the saver stores - think Winco, Aldo, Walmart, and the likes. Believe it or not I purchase Kerrygold butter, organic grass-fed milk, organic pasture-raised eggs (Happy Egg), organic apples + several other brands that we choose to indulge on.
Buy in bulk - this isn't a surefire way to save money necessarily, but pay attention to unit prices. Typically bulk is cheaper + a bonus you can forgo the packaging + bring your own reusable cloth bags.
Make your list based on your route - when you shop at your primary stores you know the layout like the back of your hand. Save time by mapping out your list accordingly.
Know your go-to staples - this saves both time + money. I have an ongoing list in my phone of our food staples + have compared the prices at several stores so I know where to get the best deal. Plus when you know your staples you don't have to constantly make grocery lists of those go-to items.
Eat less meat - we choose to buy organic + I know this quickly adds up. In turn we eat less meat. I buy the 3 pack of organic chicken breast at Costco + the 3 pack of organic ground beef once per month, which lasts us anywhere from 1-2 months as a family of 3.
Shop with a toddler - ha kind of a joke because who really enjoys shopping with kiddos? This saves me so much time because I know the clock is ticking with a busy, active toddler on hand.
Plan in advance - failing to plan is planning to fail. Meal planning + a grocery list save so much time + money.
Shop your pantry + refrigerator first - how often do we buy duplicates of an item only to realize we already have it? Know your inventory before hitting up the store.
I'm learning as I go, but I hope this list can serve you by creating space in your budget + freeing up time in your schedule to pursue more of what matters.