Groceries | How to Simplify Your Shopping

Grocery shopping is usually the most dreaded task of the week. Whether it’s the idea of dragging two little children through several stores to get everything on your list, or the idea of planning meals with zero assistance from fellow food critics in the house, the fact is grocery shopping sucks. Period.

With this new mental shift to spend less and value more, it has been my personal goal to find ways to save on our grocery shopping. I have an amazing sitter who clips diaper and wipe coupons for me all of the time, but I’ve recently discovered a way (and yes… the rest of the world has been doing this for a couple years already…) to earn the benefits of coupons without the hassle of searching, cutting, saving clippings, and not to mention actually remembering  to use them at the check out isle.

With my new approaches to weekly grocery shopping I have successfully dropped our weekly bill from almost 200.00 a week to my most recent success of $87.56!! This is literally the lowest I’ve ever spent to cook for a week!

If you have a Walmart near you, I strongly recommend downloading the app on your smart phone or device. At the bottom of every receipt you’ll find a code to scan. Using the Savings Catcher app in your device all you have to do is TAKE A PICTURE of this code and your receipt is automatically logged in your account. Walmart then does all of the leg work for you searching local promotions and actually GIVES YOU MONEY BACK. No joke.

Again, I am very much aware of the fact that the rest of the world has been doing this for a couple years now, but I was the type of person to blow that off thinking I was “too busy” to worry about these types of things. But the reality is, no one is too busy  to do half of the stuff they claim to be too busy for. You make time for the things in life you want to do. I find the statements “you have too much time on your hands” or “I’m way too busy to do things like that” incredibly insulting, although I am aware those statements are not meant to be insults.

The reality is: If you want to do it, you will. If you do not have the desire to accomplish a certain task or goal, the statement “I’m too busy” is a safe cover. Life is about priorities and how we use our time. Trust me there have been countless weeks where I have wasted ridiculous amounts of time and used the line “I’m too busy.” Everyone is busy in these crazy times we live in, its just a matter of prioritizing what you want to accomplish in that busy life. My goal for this year is to actually accomplish the things I set out to do.

So back to this annoying task of GROCERY SHOPPING. Ugh, even the words make me sigh. I have found a routine that really seems to help me, and perhaps it could help someone else as well, so I would like to share it with you. Before I shop I make a list starting with the meals I want to make for the week. I try to think about the groceries I have already in my house and the ingredients I bought for recipes from the previous week that were never used or never made. If I have a roll-over meal from the previous week I put it down first and then try to fill my list with 5 quality meals. By quality I do not mean highly organic or super healthy, just real meals I know my family will eat, and perhaps even re-heat as left overs.

This is one of those habits I learned from my mother. She was like the epitome of organized shopping back in the 90’s with her sweet pre-fab word document lists printed ahead of time. She then went through the regular items she bought routinely marking what was needed and eliminated what she didn’t need. All of her meals were listed on the side of the grocery list.

Once my meals have been planned I write down the groceries I need for the week, making sure not to miss a single ingredient. (I usually suck at this part, but have been consciously trying to improve on this task.) The goal is to go to the store ONE TIME. I find that when I begin making random frequent trips during the week, I spend way more than I planned on. My lists usually look something like this:


I’ve also started a habit of putting my lists and menus in the same notebook each week, so when I’m really struggling for meal ideas and I don’t have my recipe book close by, I have previous menus and lists to flip through for ideas.

Now, I have tried grocery shopping on a variety of days during the week, but have discovered that the most efficient time to accomplish my goal of sticking to my list is after work on Fridays. Fridays for me are like the fresh start that some view Monday as. The work week is done, but the weekend is just beginning. I used to grocery shop first thing Saturday morning after breakfast, and before morning naps. While this time worked well too, I don’t enjoy shopping for groceries and hated to start my weekend out that way. I also don’t enjoy making myself presentable that early on a weekend.

When my girls are at the sitter, I swing in and pick them up first before heading to the store. On the off chance they are spending the day at the grandparents I definitely capitalize on this and go without them. One of the parenting decisions I made early on and will never regret was incorporating my girls into shopping trips from an early age. Both are excellent shoppers and behave wonderfully (most of the time…) because it’s normal to them. Actually, my three-year old is super disappointed when she misses this weekly outing.

Once I return home I make a point to WRITE MY MENU DOWN in my kitchen… and yes, almost every time someone comes to my house to visit I get some funny little menu adjustment to my chalk board (Rob… we know it was you!) This may seem silly, but if I don’t write down what I planned, by Tuesday I can’t remember any of the meals I bought groceries for!

I have these three boards in my kitchen in a neat little row to help keep track of menus, upcoming events, daycare hours, and appointments. I cannot stress how much more organized my life has become since purchasing this chalkboard, cork board, and dry erase board!

So lets recap:

  1. Make a Menu – planning from items you already have in the house
  2. Pick a specific day that works for YOU – Mine is Friday, but this might not be the case for you.
  3. Stick to the List! – Hold strong while in the store and avoid tempting isles like the chip isle, snack isle, etc. where you may be tempted to throw in those extras.
  4. If children are involved, stay consistent! – My girls shop frequently with me, and while they are expected to behave, if I have a particularly long to-do list, I try to reward them with something small for being extra good.
  5. Do not return to the store! – Once you’ve finished your weekly shopping, make sure you have EVERYTHING and do not return to the store! No exceptions!
  6. Once you’ve finished, scan your receipt! – At this point, I have been using Savings Catcher for 3 weeks, and I’m up to 7.00 in extra money returned to me!

If you don’t shop at Walmart there are plenty of other savings options for you, particularly if you hate the idea of coupon clipping.

iBotta is another great savings tool you can use online or as an app in your smart phone. My sister in law introduced me to this over a year ago, but I didn’t really get into it until recently. The part I like about this app is the community approach. You can look at others who have referred you to see how they are using the app and what savings they’ve found. And let me tell you, that girl can SAVE! She’s a big part of my motivation to try to be a little more budget conscious this year.

Use my referral code: vsfqjix
when signing up and we both get extra money to start out! There is no expense to you when using this application and no spam associated with it. You simply log into the app and browse the current promotions going on at your favorite store, select them, and verify the purchases by taking a picture of your receipt.

Ebates was also recommended to my by a friend who is fantastic with saving money. I am a big time online shopper, so when I heard exactly how Ebates worked, paying you to go through their app prior to shopping online, there was no down side to me! You can now shop in stores and earn the same money back with Ebates.

Use my referral code: Click here

and get started saving while you shop! My first pay-out was only 30.00 and I used the app 3 times to earn that. If you refer a friend you get a nice little promo chunk added to your account!

I hope some of these time saving tips help you out going forward shopping! Again, I probably wouldn’t be so motivated to really step up my budgeting A-game if it hadn’t been for the motivation from my sister-in-law who is AMAZING at this! So thanks girl!


  • Whitney

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