That’s a loaded question!
I’ve never put into words my “formula” for my shopping trips. Some of it is based on our menu for the month, some on what deals are going on, and some of it is how lazy I’m feeling that week.
But because you asked, here is the down and dirty of how I organize my shopping trips.
- Throughout the week, I keep a piece of paper by my computer and write down any specific one-off deals I think look interesting from either Target or Walmart. I usually write down the item, coupon needed and final price.
- On Tuesday, before I even look at a circular, I’ll check my meal plan for the week and see if I need any specific ingredients. If I do, I write those on my shopping list.
- On Wednesday night, after all the coupon match-ups are done, I look at the store circulars for produce pricing (consulting my price book) and to see if any of the specific ingredients I need are on sale. Then I decide which two grocery stores I’m going to shop at based on their sale items and items I need for my meal plan. This may mean I pay more for red onions, but I figure my time is worth something too. Confession: I used to go to all the stores all the time, but now I try limit it to no more than two or three per week.
- Once I figure out which stores I’m going to – I make a list by store. The list has five columns – item name, number buying, sale price, coupon, and final price. I do all this math to make sure I don’t go over budget. From past experience, I’ve found that can get into the “throws” of putting a sale list together and spend money on things we may not need. Coupons for items I’m buying at each store are paper clipped on to their list.
- I usually shop on Thursday or Saturday mornings. Sometimes with kids, sometimes without. Always with my reuseable bags (gotta love that $.05) and always with my coupons.
- I take weeks off. I used to “force”the deal by buying something that wasn’t rock bottom pricing. Now I just wait. Those weeks I may just hit Aldi for produce and a couple of staples and call it good. It is good to take a week off – your family and your pocketbook appreciate it.
For me the keys are price book, store listing with approximately money spent, and meal plan. They can work apart and be trip-specific successful, but long-term success is using those three tools together to help decrease your grocery bill.
How do you organize your shopping trips? What helps keep you in budget?