Smart Grocery Shopping

A little while ago I was with a group of friends.  Somehow we got on the topic of grocery shopping and how much each of us spends each month.  I was STUNNED when one of them said she spends about $1200 a month on groceries.  I think I had to pick my chin up off the ground.  I could not believe she spent so much money on groceries.  She asked how much I spend each month (we have about the same number of people in our homes).  I told her between $300-$400 a month.  She couldn't believe it.  She asks me what I do to only spend that much.  I really didn't have an answer for her right then.  It was just how it was.

When I got home I started thinking about it.  I really do smart grocery shop.  Here is what I do - maybe it can help you streamline your grocery bill.

My monthly grocery shopping looks like this:
*** 1x a week I go to Costco to buy mainly eggs, bread, milk, and some other misc items.  I know what I need before I go (by making a list) and I STICK TO THE LIST.  There are weeks I only buy milk, and other weeks where I have to buy butter, or some other item that isn't needed weekly.  That's it.  You don't have to leave Costco with a cart full of stuff every time you enter it's doors.  Get only what you need and move on. (About $30 a trip - occasionally a little more when I need other items besides food).
*** 1-2x a month I go to Wal-Mart.  Seriously - I am not there every week!  I make a list of what I need and I stick to it.  I make sure I am buying enough for at least 2 weeks - and I only buy what I know will be eaten, and usually it lasts longer than that. (Usually under $100 each time).
***  I rarely have to make runs to the store other than my regular shopping days.  On my refrigerator I always have a piece of paper where I write down items I need as I notice I need them.  This way my list is complete when I head to the store, and I do not forget items - making me have to run to the store later. 

There are 3 main things that keep my monthly food bill down.

1.  Eat what you buy.  Very rarely do I throw out rotten food that was in the fridge that didn't get eaten - because I do not let it get to that point.  If I have several meals with leftovers hanging out in the fridge, dinner that night will be a modge podge of food.  I will add one or two items to make it complete, but I make sure we have as little waste as possible. So, eat what we have.

2.  Make a menu.  Even if it isn't complete for every single day of the week.  I usually have at least 4 days a week planned ahead.  I usually jot down meals I want to have a month at a time.

3.  Do not eat out often.  The more you do, the more you want to.  And this costs a lot of money and gets you out of the habit of cooking at home.

Those are 3 main points of how to spend less.  Other things I recommend are:
--Make things from scratch.  This is much healthier and costs less.  By making it yourself you can really cut down on sodium and fat.  With the internet, you can find oodles of fantastic recipes that you can make yourself.
--Don't over buy.  Buy what you need for that week, but be thorough.  The more times you have to run to the grocery store, the more you will spend.
--Don't buy crap.  Stay away from excessive amounts of candy, pop, big bags of chips, etc.
--I always have grab and go snacks ready - like 100% juice pouches, applesauce tubes, cheese cubes, yogurt, string cheese, small single serve chip bags, etc.  When you buy pre-portioned healthy snack items, these do cost a little more, but you and your kids will eat healthier all around.  When you buy healthy, you eat healthy.

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