Battling the Grocery Gremlin

I don’t know about you, but my most frustrating shopping experiences happen at the grocery store!  It never seems to fail that when I think I have about $50 worth of groceries in my basket, they add up to $100.  I really don’t think that the problem is with my addition skills, I am sure that there is an evil gremlin in the checkout register that adds a dollar to everything I purchase!  I love the savings cards that you get at stores like Safeway because when I swipe the card, I see the total price fall about $10.  That always makes me feel a little bit better about life; its my revenge on the gremlin.  Unfortunately the evil little gremlin always wins out, and the amount debited from my bank account is higher than it was supposed to be.  Grocery shopping is an endless frustration for me.

However, I have found valuable help in the book America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides that has helped make grocery shopping and grocery budgeting much easier.  This book has a very high standard, they calculate $50 a month per person.  By following the principles in this book, I am supposed to be able to feed Brandon and I on just $100 a month, and this includes eating meats and cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables.   I have not been able to bring my grocery budget down that much yet, but I am getting closer.  I thought I’d share some of the grocery shopping principles that I have learned, and if any of you struggle with sticking to a budget at a grocery store, or if you also would like to take revenge on the evil register gremlin, perhaps these methods will help you as well.

1) Make a Menu Plan. Menu planning sounds rather overwhelming if you are a very busy person or just don’t enjoy planning, but a menu plan can take as little time as 10 or 15 minutes to simply jot down a few meals you’d like to make for the week.  Planning a menu doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair.  I usually plan to make 3 meals during the week.  By the time we’ve eaten those 3 meals, we usually have leftovers for another night and enough ingredients to make a 5th meal during the week (and after that we have a long list of friends, relatives, and distant relations we enjoy visiting on weekends).  By menu planning, your shopping will be more focused so that you don’t just randomly pick ingredients that look good at the moment, and then you will be able to save $ at the register!

2) Shop as Infrequently as Possible. Every time you shop, you are tempted by impulse buys, so the less you shop, the less you will be tempted.  The Economides shop once a month, because they have a deep freeze and plenty of storage space.  Most of us do not have such luxuries, but you can try to cut down your trips.  If you have been shopping twice a week, try going just once.  Or if you go once a week, try going every other week.  This takes a little more planning, but out of all the tips in this book, this method has helped me save the most at the checkout (does this mean I am a very impulsive person or I am just easily tempted?).

3) Check Sale Fliers. Your local grocery store, like Safeway or Krogers, will feature certain items at really low prices as an incentive to get people in the door.  Then make a menu plan based on the sales.  For example, last week chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks were on sale for 99 cents a pound.  So I bought about 5 pounds of chicken breasts and we will be enjoying Parmesan Chicken, Chicken Oreganato, and Honey Glazed Chicken (or at least that is the hope…the meals have yet to be made!).  Chuck Roast was also on sale for $2.00 a pound, so I also purchased several pounds of roast and divided it into several different meals.  I now have enough meat to feed Brandon and I for about two weeks of meals for just over $10. Watch for deals in other areas as well.  For example, the other week grapes were also on sale for 99 cents a pound, so we enjoyed grapes with our lunches for the next two weeks!  This week bacon was on sale for $1.99 for a one pound package, so I stocked up on that for breakfasts.

The grocery gremlin still thwarts me at every chance he gets, somehow marking up prices by the time I get to the register, or sneaking extra items in my cart (I swear I didn’t put those Oreos in my basket!).  But I am learning and someday, I shall be victorious!

This picture has nothing to do with grocery shopping, but it was just so cute I couldn’t resist!

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2 Responses to Battling the Grocery Gremlin

  1. Marilyn Moll says:

    Excellent article. Can I have permission to reprint it tomorrow?

  2. amber slaughter says:

    ok–I’ll give it a go!

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