Monday, November 10, 2014

Grocery Shopping Process

As I was making our grocery list last week, I was thinking that what I do is a little crazy and maybe I should document it.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a very organized person. I like to meal plan for our family because it helps curb eating out and we eat healthier that way. 

When we first moved to Minnesota and lived in the sticks, I started going grocery shopping once every two weeks. This has mostly stuck, although now that the grocery store is only 2 blocks away we do end up going back for milk, bananas, or anything else I may have forgotten on the big grocery shop. Hey, it happens. 

Here's what my list looks like:

I know, a little crazy. Let me break it down for you.

First, I start off by checking out our grocery store flyer to see what meats will be on sale. That gets me thinking about actual meals that we'll make. I'm trying to buy less meat and eat more vegetarian meals since meat is so expensive right now. Also, eating vegetarian is healthy! But that's a rant for a different day.

My list starts out with the veggies and/or fruits we'll need, followed by the meat section. Then it's typically condiments/sauces/canned goods, followed by pastas, cheese, frozen goods, breads, and whatever else mixed in. It basically follows the layout of our store.

On the top right is where I list the meals. I typically try to put down 12-14 meals, while keeping a mind on our calendar. For example, we have a family photo session on Nov 19th, so we'll be eating out after that for convenience. So this shop I only needed 13 meals. 

I hop onto Pinterest to check out meals that I've pinned, so that I actually make them. Novel idea! I also check out my "Recipes Tried & Liked" board for recipe inspiration. I have a mental catalog of some of the meals we have printed out in the past that I keep in a binder at home (not super fancy - literally a 3 ring binder), so I try to incorporate some of those recipes, too. Some things, like tacos & spaghetti, don't need a recipe obviously and are great to have as a stand-by easy meal.

Just recently (like within the past 2 months), I started actually listing out the meals in calendar fashion. I used to do this a long time ago, but got away from it. Having started again, it's really easy to stick with the "plan", remember to take meat out to thaw, and make sure we're not eating the same thing over and over. Like having Mexican 3 nights in a row followed by 2 nights of spaghetti. That gets old real quick, my friend!

Our grocery store also just started implementing a coupon "code" that's like the coupon key. If you have it/know it, or just ask nicely, the clerk will plug that in and it applies all the shopper coupons that you may need but forgot at home. Or just didn't cut out because you have the code instead. It's pretty nice! I write it at the top of my list, so then I don't have to worry about clipping coupons! It only works for our grocery store coupons though, and not on vendor coupons. 

I know this sounds like quite the process, but it really only takes me 20-30 minutes. I feel like that's a fair trade off for spending less money on eating out and eating better meals! 

When I get home, I cut out the bottom corner with the calendar list and put it up on the fridge. Not as fancy as something like this (which I actually love):

Maybe someday I'll have a fancy board like that. Maybe when my fridge isn't covered in art projects and coloring book pages.

I also check out my Checkout 51 app. Have you heard of this? It's an app that gives you cash back for buying certain products. Most of them are brand specific, but each week they also have rebates on things like bananas, mixed salad bags, tomatoes, etc. I typically only earn .25-.50 cents per trip, but it's starting to add up! When you get to $20 in rebated funds, you can cash out and get money! 

To me, this is great for a little cash back on things that normally don't have coupons. Occasionally I will actually buy the brand-specific product though, which usually gets you a little more. Like last week they offered $1.00 back on Mrs. Renfro's Salsa. We needed salsa, and this brand was on sale at my store too, so that was a no brainer! 

Do you have a grocery shopping strategy? What do you think of my list? Am I crazy?


  1. You gotta be a little crazy when making grocery lists! It's the most efficient way. Mine are usually very vague because I never know what I'm going to find! 3 meats, 6 veggies (4 of them green), cereal (whatever they have)... I also keep it on my phone because if I write it on paper, I will leave it at home!

    1. I am a paper-all-the-way girl. I don't think I would even look at it if it were on my phone!

  2. This is awesome! And, oh my goodness, you have inspired me to add a meal column to my shopping list. (This is a big deal for me.)

    Lately, I feel like I have been stuck in something similar to the 3 nights of Mexican, 2 nights of spaghetti rut. This is my 3rd week of trying to include at least one new dinner recipe per week---but I like your method a lot better. Now I have a new project for this evening...this could get crazy!

    1. Lol, get a little crazy!

      My husband does most of the cooking, although I have been doing a bit more. But it's easier for us both if he knows what meals certain ingredients are for. That's probably the biggest reason why I started listing out the meals in general. That way we don't eat something that we should be saving!