How to Save Substantially At the Supermarket Every Month


Grocery shopping is no joke in our house; not even a little. We have four kids, two adults and we frequently have my aunt and her 3-year-old son over for dinner during the week. She’s an unexpected single mother and a teacher, and she is a horrible cook. To help her out a bit, we let them crash our dinners during the week. That said, we usually support a family of 8 in the kitchen. Two of our kids are in school, and they both pack lunches. I work from home and my 2-year-old twins are home with me during the day, so we eat here most every meal.

One trip to the store on a Sunday afternoon just to pick up lunch box supplies for our 7 and 5-year-olds is $200. When we shop for the week for the entire family for dinners and other meals, we end up spending another $400 or so. That doesn’t even count the fact that we probably go to the store three other times during the week to pick up things we forgot or didn’t realize we needed. We are supermarket failures in the biggest sense of the word.

Now that the kids are home for the summer, I swear they are eating more than ever. I realized that our grocery budget is insane, and it needs some work. That inspired me to sit down and figure out how I can change up our shopping habits and make them more efficient, smarter and a lot less expensive. I don’t know yet if it will work, but I did base my research on a bunch of other articles, opinions and tips from other parents with small kids. I thought we might try it together and see how it works – or you could tell me why I’m failing at the end of the first month and teach me a thing or two. That said, here’s what we should do – together – so lower our grocery bill.

Make Weekly Menus

I love, love, love this idea. The concept is to make a menu so that you know what you’re having for dinner each night for the week (i.e. – Monday is cheer and gymnastics practice so a chicken in the crockpot thrown over a salad when we get home suffices, Tuesday pasta, Wednesday, Thursday, etc). This allows us to go through our pantry and fridge to see what we already have and what we need to add to our shopping list. Designed to eliminate the need to go to the store 37 times every week, this is supposed to work like a charm.

Change The Way You Eat

Sometimes we do things that can help us save money at the store that aren’t drastic. Changing the way we eat, for example, is a great way to save money. Growing up, we always had meat and potatoes and some sort of vegetable and a roll. In our house, we usually have meat (though not always because we are not huge meat-eaters) and a vegetable and a salad. We rarely eat bread and we don’t feel the need to have a starch with every meal. I think that it’s better to change the way you eat so that you can buy what’s on sale, cut out unnecessary items (are rolls really that important with every meal?) and save money where you can.

Get To Know the Sales

I need to do a better job of this, and I bet I could save a ton of money. My kids love the Pepperidge Farm goldfish. They are the kids favorite snacks, and we go through a ton of them (especially when we are in the car a lot or we have a lot of outings since it’s far easier to pack a snack of goldfish than it is fruit that requires a cooler, too). I know our supermarket puts our coffee and our goldfish and a bunch of the stuff we eat on sale regularly, and if I did a better job of getting to know this, I bet I could save.

In fact, I recently went to my favorite store to pick up a couple bottles of wine, and they were out of stock of our favorite Malbec and our favorite Sauvignon Blanc. I could have gone elsewhere, but time, so I decided to look around. Everything they did have that we might like was very similarly priced, so I chose the ones that were on sale. I figured that way if they are awful, I wouldn’t have spent a bunch of money. Each one was buy one, get one and I ended up with four bottles of wine for $30. You cannot beat that; and they weren’t bad.

What do you say we try these out for a month and come back to reconvene in July to see how we fared, what we saved and how we were able to adjust our spending at the supermarket? I’m in if you’re in.

Photo by Getty Images


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