I just ran a 5 Day Grocery Challenge for the back-to-school season… because lemme tell you… my good budgeting habits went right out the window this summer. The pandemic didn’t help for a number of reasons… 1) Money that I would have spent on kids sports… vacation… memberships etc all went towards other things… including ordering in, food, and alcohol. Soooo it was easy to stop meal planning. Why bother? I was dealing with the chaos of working with home alongside the kids… it took forever to get through the line ups at the grocery store… and I just didn’t have the energy. But after the kids went back to school I had a good hard look at how much money we’ve been EATING. Yikes.
I wasn’t alone on this challenge… 100 other women joined in… and the engagement was explosive!!! Every day for 5 days I got on the camera live to teach a lesson and give a task to this incredible group of hard working women…. and they delivered. Ohhhhh yes.
By the end of the challenge the group was flooding with messages about how much money these women were going to save with their new found skills… and better yet… what they were going to DO with these savings. Because it’s really not about how much money you are spending on food. It’s about your goals. If you COULD save $7,800 per year like the lovely lady above… what would you DO with it? Would it let you go on that vacation your family hasn’t had in 4 years? Would it let you trade in your clunker of a car for something safer (and let’s be honest… a little more stylish?) Is your goal worth doing a bit of work to change the way that you do grocery shopping? That’s up to you.
Here are the BIG 5 WAYS that you can SAVE money in the grocery store.
#1 – Shop in your OWN pantry first.
This is HUGE, ladies. You may not even realize how much food you already have sitting in your house. Be just came out of a pandemic… so some of you may have an apocolyptic amount of food. You gotta stop any food waste… because those are your hard earned dollars. If you’re putting that money into your freezer and then it gets freezer burned and chucked out… that’s YOUR MONEY you’re throwing away. Some of the challenge members took DAYS to finish their inventory sheets, because they had food buried so far in the deep freeze they needed winter gloves to handle it all. Write down EVEYRTHING that you have in your pantry, freezer, cupboards, and fridge. USE the ingredients that you have ALREADY PAID FOR!!!!
I’ve got some pretty inventory sheets in my free shopping guide that you can print to write it all down on. Click here to get it!
#2 – List out your family FAVOURITES
List out your favourite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I want you to actually sit down with your kids and spouse and talk about your favourite things to eat, so that you create a list of go-to’s that won’t fail you. This is because we just get busy. And when we get busy and are juggling more balls than we can handle… and are HUNGRY on top of that… we end up ordering in instead of winning a battle against the every-day question “What’s for dinner??!?” Plus, if these meals are your favourite… chances are the ingredients are things that you use regularly. You need a go-to list of things that are easy. And don’t just write down a few. Rack your brain and really think, so that you have a HUGE list of stuff to pull from. Busy mom’s do NOT have the bandwidth to come up with pinterest-level gourmet meals every single day. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. Get that list done so that you can look at it and make something without having to think much about it.
*BONUS: List out some meals that freeze really well, so that you can make a bunch of them to stick in the freezer for days that you just need a quick meal.
#3 – Come up with THEMES
Themes are an AWESOME way to simplify your meal planning! We have all heard of TACO TUESDAY. But it’s more than just making tacos on Tuesday. You could make the SAME tacos and eat them 4 weeks in a row by putting the ingredients into the freezer for the next week. You could have a different kind of taco every Tuesday. You might just make Taco Tuesday your Mexican Food Day. The point is to keep it simple by coming up with a theme for the day to save you precious time and energy. Other great themes are FISH FRIDAY… MEATLESS MONDAY… PASTA DAY… SOUP DAY… You get it. Come up with at least 7 themes that you can commit to. Make enough for lunches the next day… or make enough that you can put some in the freezer for FREEZER FRIDAY. Make a little extra so that you can put it into an omelette for the morning. Think of ways that you can make MORE on one night so that you can save time and use it again for another meal.
Are you afraid of commitment? Okay. Do 3 or 4 themes for the week and then use your family favourites list to make up the rest of the week.
#4 – Meal Plan ONLINE, and use your guide!
Okay, so you have a list of everything in your house. You have a roster of your favourite recipes. And you have some theme ideas for the week. Keep your meal planning as simple as possible. Write down the days of the week and what your family will be eating each day. Choose recipes that use up the ingredients that you already have as much as possible.
Next… you’re gonna go online to shop for the ingredients that you’re lacking. Go on your local grocery store and order it from there. If it’s not on the meal plan list… it doesn’t go in your cart. STAY FOCUSED. Shopping online will stop you from throwing impulse buys into the cart and will help you compare pricing for ingredients. Also… it’s a lot easier to take items back out of your cart online than it is in real life if you decide you don’t want it anymore. Use your shopping guide! I’ve got 28 small tips and tricks that will add up to big savings. For example… buy smaller fruits. They go by weight and if you give your kid an apple bigger than their head they’re just gonna eat half anyway. Buy a jug of popcorn kernals instead of microwave bags. Stay under $1.99/lb for produce.
Don’t forget to download my free shopping guide that tells you the average price you should be aiming for key things like meat, produce, cheese etc.
#5 – Shop only once a week.
Ran out? OH WELL. This is something that I say to my boys maybe 1000 times a day. If you have kids, you will probably relate to this. If you run out of something… oh well. Find something else. You won’t die without bananas. (Side note… if there IS something that you would actually die without, please go buy it.) Improvise your recipes if you are out of an ingredient. The more you go into the store, the more chance for extra items to jump into your cart. Resist the urge to drop in for that one thing. Chances are… you can do without.
I run my Grocery Shopping Challenges four times a year… and they’re always a FUN time. (plus, I give out prizes. Last time it was an air fryer.) If you wanna be told when the next one opens up, follow me on social media or download my shopping guide!