What’s your weekly grocery budget? I am always on a mission to find out how I can lower my weekly grocery budget without cutting coupons and without sacrificing whatever it is we like and need most each week. Basically, I need prices to just drop dramatically and that’s all. In all seriousness, I am not good with a weekly grocery budget. For one, I am not disciplined when it comes to planning meals, making lists and only buying what I say I need. I’m also an irritated shopper who gets road rage in aisles when people are stopped in my way, when they stop me to chat about my twins and when I’m in a hurry.
Basically, I suck at grocery shopping to the point that our grocery budget each week is pretty close to $500. What’s really, really sad about that is that we never seem to be able to find anything to eat. Between lunches for school for our two older girls, snacks and food for our twins, wine, wine and other things that we need around the house, I’m in the store three times a week or more spending at least $150 a trip. I know what my problem is; me. And I know how I sabotage my weekly grocery budget, too.
I have no willpower, though, so I cannot seem to stop. I thought perhaps if I share with how we are all sabotaging our weekly grocery budget, perhaps we can all get back on track together. That said, here’s how we are all ruining our weekly grocery budget.
Not Making a List
I mean, really; it’s so easy yet so many of us simply do not do it. I am of the mentality that I will ‘remember’ all the things that we need as I walk through the aisles of the store. I probably would remember, too, if it were not for the fact that I spend half my trip trying to take deep breaths so that I don’t ram my cart into the back of the woman who is standing in the dead center of the aisle yapping on her cell phone while 8 carts deep of shoppers want to punch her in the face. Do you see what I mean by rage when I shop? Long story short; make a list and make it a good one.
Not Meal Planning
I love the idea of meal planning, yet I don’t do it. If we all just took the time to say, “There are 7 days in this week and we will have this, that and the other each night,” we would be much better at buying what we need. We’d be able to make full lists. We would be able to do this thing where we write down everything we need from the meal to the ingredients, and buy them all at once so we get to stay home all those other days. Meal planning means we buy everything and don’t need to go back to the store 7 times a week.
I shop hungry, and it’s bad for my wallet. I buy all the food. When I’m shopping hungry for our Sunday Filet night, I end up buying filets, crab legs, shrimp, bread, salad makings, an amazing dessert, some kid of fabulous appetizer and about 5 bottles of wine just so I have the one I might want later; $300 later I have one meal. I need to eat before I shop so I’m not hungry and obsessed with all the food.
Not Creating a Running List
A running list is what we need in our house. It’s the list we use when we run out of something. It’s often this list that helps me in the store, but we are not good at keeping it. You see, I might remember to get all the things we needed at the store one day, but then my husband tells me that we are down to almost no baby shampoo because he did bath time for the past 3 nights and I didn’t know we were almost out. He sees things go and forgets to tell me, and then I’m back at the store again.
Not Leaving the Kids Home
I can shop all day long with my 1-year-old twins because they are amazing. With my two older girls, however, I have to leave them home. I can’t shop with them unless I want to spend an additional $40 on stuff we don’t need or want. I also just want to get them out of the store because I’m tired of hearing them ask for stuff, jump off the cart and irritate me. So I rush, and we forget things.
Not Shopping at the Right Stores
I love to shop at Publix, but I know their prices are much higher. I know that I could go to Walmart and get the same items I buy at Publix a lot less expensive in most cases, but I won’t do it. I dislike shopping Walmart with the crowds, the lack of open registers and what is always a mess. I prefer Publix, and I know I’m paying for the amazing customer service, the cleanliness and the overall experience. I’m fine with that, but it does blow the weekly grocery budget.
Not Buying the Right Fruit
My kids love, love, love fruit. They love it so much, especially blueberries. However, they’re not always in season. Right now, for instance, I’m paying $4.99 for a package that’s less than an inch deep and maybe 3 inches wide. It might contain 20 blueberries. When they are in season, however, I can buy quadruple the blueberries for $2.99. When you shop for your fruit seasonally, it’s a lot more affordable and a lot friendlier on your weekly grocery budget.
Not Shopping Sales
I don’t know about your supermarket, but I do know about mine. Publix has sales that begin every Thursday and run a week. I’ve gotten to know them a bit just because I’ve been shopping at the same store 800 times a week for more than a decade. I know that since we buy 4 boxes of Starbucks K-Cups each week that I can wait for the sales and stock up since they’re $6.99 instead of $9.99 a box, and there is always a mobile coupon through Publix that allows me to get $2 off the purchase of two boxes at a time. Knowing these things is going to allow you to shop for specific items at specific times so that you always save money on the things you need the most.
Not Using Coupons
I don’t use coupons; not going to lie. I find that since the vast majority of what we buy is fresh fruit and vegetables, we never really need coupons since they’re not available for those items. I’m busy with four kids and my career, and clipping coupons for things we don’t buy in the first place is not for me. However, we should do it. It really adds up when you use coupons for items you really purchase. Additionally, I’ve found that the Publix app allows me to ‘clip’ mobile coupons and use them simply by entering my phone number on the keypad when I check out. It’s not always stuff we need, but coffee and toothpaste are sometimes coupons and we always use both.
You Don’t Do Easy Meals
My husband loves to cook. He is elaborate and amazing when he’s in the kitchen. The problem is that with four kids, their activities, our careers and a house to care for, we have very little time for his elaborate meals (hence the reason for Sunday Filet night). We often find ourselves picking up something on the way home in the afternoons after he leaves work or I pick up the kids from school because the idea of an elaborate meal is just too irritating. On that note, when we do simple meals at home, we find we are more apt to eat at home and really enjoy our meals and our time in the kitchen. It’s also good for our weekly grocery budget to do it this way.
Photo by Getty Images