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Friday, April 24, 2015

Grocery Shopping & Menu Prep - Part One

Grocery Shopping & Menu Prep
A Busy Mom's Guide: Part One

The hubby and I both work full-time outside of the home. This leaves little time for cutting coupons to try to save money! Not that I think there is anything wrong with couponing, we definitely use them when we can, but we just do not have the time to actually sort through and print all of the coupons available to us. Budgeting is very high on our list of priorities; it is a little known fact that my middle name is budget and most of the time it is hyphenated with cheap. HA!

So how do we stay within budget and save money without couponing?! It's a wild question I know. The answer for us is proper planning!

Where we live we aren't presented with many options in regards to grocery shopping. There is a Sam's Club about 40 minutes from us so we do try to get our meats from there in bulk. We usually buy meat quarterly and using the Food Saver system we freeze the meat in proportions that work for our family.

Meats we buy in bulk:

-Ground Hamburger Meat
-Boneless Chicken Breasts
-Pork Chops

Our local Wal-Mart is sub-par at best. I would relate it to the supermarket we shopped at while vacationing in Cancun, the local supermarket....

A couple of years ago we were blessed with a Publix. Although this doesn't outwardly appear like the most economical choice we make it work by shopping the sales.

We budget $125 per week for groceries for a family of 3. This provides us three meals a day. We do have a budget for eating out, which is $100 per month. Budgeting is a whole other blog to itself so we won't go there today.

Usually on Thursday I pull up our weekly Publix ad and scan the BOGO's and sale items. At the same time I'm planning a menu for that week (stay tuned for Part Two). I base my menu off of things that we have on hand at home already and what is on sale. For instance, it's not uncommon for us to have something like mac & cheese at home already because I've stocked up during a previous BOGO sale.

Once I've got my lists together it's time to go grocery shopping for the following week. We usually try to make it to the grocery store on Friday. The next two things I'm about to tell you are two of the MOST important things to remember.

1. Only buy what's on your list 

Impulse buys will blow your budget in a hot minute. You already know what's on sale before you ever step foot in the store because you've researched the sale paper. There is no excuse for impulse buying. It may help if you try to eat before going to the store. Going on an empty belly will make impulse items A LOT more appealing.

2. Once you've left the grocery store DO NOT return until the following week
Stopping by the grocery store during the week without a list is a recipe for disaster. If you spontaneously run out of milk or bread or some necessity send your Hubby, and give instructions to just go straight in and come straight out. Chances are they don't want to go anyway so they will be as quick about it as possible.

By planning your meals ahead of time you are ensuring you don't have to eat out during the week, thus saving money.  Part Two of this series will detail our menu prep and meal ideas. No dinner we cook takes longer than 45 minutes.

You also already have the list of items you need for every meal you are going to cook the following week in hand when you go to the supermarket leaving no reason to have to make multiple trips wasting your time and money.

Happy Grocery Shopping! And stay tuned for Part Two of the series!

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