Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Grocery Process

People have already asked me how I stick to my budget (which after a whole house budget hash out, has been increased slightly. Whoohoo!). Here is my process.
I get paid for watching E (the 2 year old) on Wednesday, so I shop on Thursday. That means Wednesday night is spent on the weekly grocery planning.
I came up with this process by combining what I already knew from helping my mom plan meals while growing up, with reading various blogs and '101 ways to save money'.

Step 1:
Make our weekly menu plan. The hardest part has been making sure I plan for breakfast, lunch, and snacks as well as dinners (why must everyone need to eat so often?)
I always try to find one new meal to try. Most of them have been approved by the hubby and I add them to my recipe book.
At least one meal is a frugal meal (Around $5 for the entire thing).
Remember that we only eat meat twice a week (bonus points if the frugal meal contains meat)
Make sure that at least a couple of those meals won't involve hours in the kitchen. You never know when you might end up with a busy day (or clingy, teething babies). Maybe you do know which nights will be hectic, plan simple meals, or meals you can make ahead, for those nights.
Keep in mind foods that are in the freezer and pantry.

Step 2:
Turn my menu into a shopping list.
It usually helps to be in the kitchen/pantry while I do this. I notice things I have and substitute some ingredients so that I don't have to buy as much. I've been known to change an entire meal this way.
Being in the kitchen also helps to remind me of staples that we have run out of.

Step 3:
Check my phone apps for rebates and deals.
The 2 apps I use most are Ibotta and Snap By Groupon. I also use Walmart Savings Catcher, but that doesn't factor into preplanning.
When checking these apps, I start with foods I need to buy anyways. Then I look for foods I could use as substitutes for anything on my list. Last, I check for items that I use frequently, even if I know I won't use them this week.
So far I've been getting somewhere in the range of $5 back per week between the different apps, and I have yet to buy anything that didn't/won't get used. I'm saving my rebate money for Christmas gifts.

That's about it I think. It can be a little time consuming, but I don't mind right now.
I'm currently learning a new way to shop that is supposed to be a 'set and forget' type system. I will definitely update you if I am successful!

Chime in! Do you have a grocery planning process? If so, what does it look like? If not, do you want to implement one? No one's process is exactly the same an I'm always looking to learn, so share your thoughts!

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