Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats: How I Grocery Shop

Monday, March 29, 2010

How I Grocery Shop

Over the last few weeks, I've gotten random emails or comments asking how I grocery shop, where I buy our food, how I decide what meals to make, etc. Thanks to those inquiring minds, I thought I'd dedicate a WHOLE post to that topic.

I guess people are interested....and what you ask for, I will give you.

And if this topic sparks any other questions, shoot them my way at sweetandsavoryfood@hotmail.com. I'd be happy to answer them!

So, I've not always been into grocery shopping, but I now LOVE it. As long as I'm not rushed (i.e. I'm by myself). There is nothing worse that being rushed or forgetting your list, in my opinion that ruins a trip!

Some may find this hard to do, but I only do two big grocery runs a month, every two weeks, with little trips to our local store here in there for milk, bread, eggs, etc. This may not work for everyone, but it works for us.

A few days prior to the trip I start making a list on our fridge of what we are out of, what we need, what meals are floating around in my head, etc. Then the day before I get out my BIG stack of coupons (yes, I'm one of those people) and I see what's on sale and how those coupons can tie around the meals I'm planning.

I shoot to buy items for at least 10 meals during those two weeks. The other few days we'll eat leftovers, or if we are lucky go out to eat (which is rare!). I am also a big fan of doubling our meals. If I plan a pasta dish of stuffed shells I'll double the recipe, freeze half, so one meal automatically becomes two. Genius!

Once I have the list done, coupons sorted, I then list the meals on the fridge (an old tip from my good friend Lori), so that morning I'll look at the list and "pick" which meal we'll have that night. It's so nice to have a list of what you have in front of you, so you don't have to scan the cupboards and fridge and try to remember what items you bought for meals.

On the big shopping day, little man and I head out. I usually buy formula and diapers at one store (Target or Walmart) because they are cheaper. Trust me, it's worth the extra trip. Then I head to my grocery store of choice, either Hy-Vee (an Iowa chain), Walmart, the Iowa food co-op if I'm in the area, or a combination of the three. I head for the best deals....wherever that may be.

Here are some of the staples I pick up every two weeks, regardless of which store I'm heading to. These are the items we can't live without:
  • Milk
  • block cheese (it's cheaper, and you get more for your money)
  • yogurt
  • bread
  • tortilla chips
  • salsa (unless I have homemade at home)
  • fresh fruit (bananas, oranges, kiwi, apples, etc.)
  • eggs
  • veggies for us and the little man (carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, etc.)
  • meat (chicken, ground beef, ground turkey)

Now, the question that often gets asked....do we eat organic?

Answer - sometimes yes, sometimes no. Unfortunately, we don't have the budget to buy all organic, so I buy it when it's on sale, or if I feel strongly about it. It's much easier for us to eat healthy it seems in the summer, when the farmer's markets around here are in abundance. I LOVE going to farmer's markets! A perfect Saturday morning for me this summer will be taking little man in his stroller to various markets and just "strolling" about. Love it.

So that is how we do it. List making is big, coupon cutting is even bigger, and shopping around for the best deals is very important. It may take me longer than most, but I feel it is worth it. It's not uncommon for me to save at least $15 in coupons at one store. Oh, and I didn't even mention redeeming cans! That usually takes another $5 off. So right there that is $20 bucks!

Trust me, if you want to save money it can be done. Make lists, plan out your meals, cut coupons, limit your shopping to only a few times a month, and shop around. Since I'm not working right now, I feel it is my job to make my husband's paycheck stretch as far as it can go.

Happy Shopping!

13 comments:

  1. Where do you get your recipes? Do you make a lot of the same meals week to week? I'm always looking for good sources for easy recipes with few ingredients. Yours always seem to fit that. Where do you get 'em?! ;-)

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  2. Ann, the recipes I make either come from ones I've made for years, my mom made, or from various magazines (Taste of Home, Rachael Ray, Food Network) or cookbooks I have lying around. And sometimes just things I come up with! I make a few of the same meals every month (tacos, different casseroles, etc) but I do try and change it up as well.

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  3. Your planning sounds wonderful! I also try to plan ahead though we do still shop weekly. Unfortunately I used to big on coupons, but now, I rarely have any. When you're not buying processed foods, there's not really coupons for fresh, whole foods. Though I'm sure if I had a little guy like yours, I'd be using coupons for baby products and kids foods.

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  4. You seem like such a great planner! I try to do the same as you. Every 2 weeks but I normally go every week. It's just easier than doing the mini grocery shops.

    Did you know that not only is block cheese cheaper it doesn't have added chemicals like the shredded? The shredded has added stuff to keep it from sticking together! Since I found that out we always buy block cheese :)

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  5. So organized!! I should be more like you :)

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  6. This is me EXACTLY!! I only shop about twice a month unless I need a quick run for an immediate staple. I have a big list going for about a week and then I have a coupon folder and save the sales flyers. I sit down and it takes me like an HOUR a week to do the list, menu ideas, coupons, flyers, etc. But you're right - it is SO worth it. The most I've saved in one trip from coupons I've brought to the store was like $45 and I was SO proud of myself! It's a great feeling to know that b/c of a little extra effort you save massive chunks of money. Also I RARELY deviate from the list. I don't even go down aisles that I don't need to - only aisles I need stuff from. I find that sporatic purchases are when the budget really flies out the window.

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  7. great post! you are such a fab planner! i really need to buckle down and pick up some of your skills/tips!

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  8. Thanks for the comment on my last post. I'm actually pretty sure that you'd have to order Penny's desserts through her website. I don't think they're available in many stores, and most certainly not in Iowa :-). So it would unfortunately be a bit pricey...

    And I've been voting for you as my fave Mom Blogger on the Little Remedies website!!

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  9. I used to shop the way you do but not so much anymore since it's just the two of us at home now. My markets are convenient, so I like to pick up fresh produce whenever I can. But, I also use my pantry staples and freezer often as well. I am so eager for the spring Farmer's Mkt to get here...it's almost strawberry season:) Thanks for stopping by for a visit. Come join me for Crock Pot Wednesday.

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  10. I do the big shop every 2 wks as well, with the in between wks purchasing only emergency items. I tend to make the same purchases, just present them in a different way, grins.

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  11. I wish I was that organized!! I usually only buy for 3 meals at a time, so that means I end up at the grocery store twice a week. I need to get on the ball!

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  12. I wish I was that organized!! I usually only buy for 3 meals at a time, so that means I end up at the grocery store twice a week. I need to get on the ball!

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