I know that grocery shopping is different for everybody. It can be annoying and stressful for some while others look forward to going. I enjoy going as long as I have a list, know the sales and coupons, and can go at a slower time. Finding the best solution will take time.
First, you have to decide on what store/stores you’ll go to. There are local grocery chains, big box stores, food delivery services, and Amazon Pantry/Grocery. In a 10-mile radius from home, there are 5 Kroger’s, 2 Wal-Mart/Wal-Mart Marketplaces, 3 Food Lions, 1 Aldi’s, 1 Sam’s Club, and 1 Costco. I chose to go with Kroger Marketplace and Costco for the following reasons.
- They get the produce first (so it’s out earlier)
- They are more updated in their preorder kiosks (I can multi-shop)
- They have more items on sale
- The rewards points/savings work at the gas station, giving us up to a dollar off per gallon of gas
- They are bigger and cleaner
- They have more produce and meat (by a landslide)
- They have more dry good brands
Second, know your times. When trying to decide on what grocery store to use, I will shop on three different days, between three different times, and ask three different cashiers when the store is the busiest. I will also look at the sale flyers and see how long sales last. At this point, I know when I’ll most likely leave less overwhelmed and get the best deals.
For example, in the Fort Gordon area, the best times to go are Tuesday or Thursday (between 12:45PM and 2:00PM) and on Saturday (anytime between 10:00AM and 1:00PM). I try my hardest to avoid going to any store on Sunday and Monday.
Third, meal plan and know what you need. Going with a well thought out list (and sticking to it) will save you a surprising amount of money. Between meal planning and sticking to the list, we have cut our monthly grocery budget by 40%.
Through trial and error, we found meal planning 2 weeks at a time works best for us. We sit down a few days before I go to the grocery store and decide what meals we’ll have. Everything gets written out—including going out for dinner, leftovers, and “fend for yourself” nights.
FYI: There is a post coming soon about how to meal plan/prep!
Because we meal plan every 2 weeks, I only go to Costco once a month and Kroger twice a month. To help us keep track of what we run out of (or are close to running out of), there is a small dry erase board on our fridge. We put everything from eggs, milk, and snack foods to paper goods on the board. If it’s not on the list, it does NOT go in the cart.
The first trip for the month, is to both Costco and Kroger. This is the longest grocery outing for the month clocking in at 2.5-3 hours. This includes driving and loading/unloading the groceries. Here is a very general description of what we get during trip #1.
Costco (* buying every other month or as needed)
- Paper goods*
- Meat/ Poultry
- Some dry goods
- Granola bars*
- Peanut butter*
- Block/Shredded Cheese*
- Stick butter
- Deli Meat
- Dry goods
Trip 2 happens halfway through the month, is only to Kroger, and takes about an hour. Again, this includes driving and loading/unloading. Unless there is a holiday weekend or get together, the end of the month is pretty predictable and looks something like this:
- Dairy (milk and yogurt)
- Dry Goods (usually cereal and pretzels)
- Pretzels tend to go on sale the second half of the month (5 bags for $5) so I’ll stock up then, if we need them
Lastly, when creating the list, I write in the order of the store layout.
This helps me to stay on track because I’m able to go straight to the sections without having to stop and think about what’s next. I just grab, check off, and go.
For a peek at my big Costco/Kroger haul, watch my Instagram story below!