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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cut your Grocery Bill by 1/4 (at least!) with one piece of paper.

     Originally, I just cooked up this plan to save time at the grocery store.  I had no idea that it would also help save us money in the end- Hooray for new-on-top-of-new-ideas. 

I hope it helps you, too! 

     First and foremost, I started my "plan" by making a chart that I wanted to use for a grocery list according to the lay-out of our nearby Kroger Grocery store.  When you enter our store, produce is to the right- meat, on the back wall, etc.  

    After printing it as a word document, I write my meal plan on the far right rectangle (the one with no label).  As I write a meal down, I then divvy out the ingredients I need onto the list (if I don't already have them at home).

     Next, I write the estimated price next to each item.  I try to account for tax, things that are NOT on sale, etc.  I also try to over-estimate the price by about 50 cents, just in case. 

In other words, I round up.  

     Then, I add up each category (produce, meat, canned goods, etc.) and put it in the corner of the "aisle box" (so if I'm spending 10 dollars on produce, I put a number 10 in the bottom right-hand corner of the produce box).  Then, I add up my estimated total and write it on the lower right-hand corner of the page.  

      As I'm shopping, I try to take a different-colored pen with me to mark down "real" prices.  I also continue to check the estimated prices.  If it is something I have under-estimated in terms of price- I usually don't buy it if I don't absolutely need it. 

      For example- if I mistakenly think hummus will be on sale that week, but it's regularly priced, I will probably skip it. No big deal.  

     However, sometimes- the stars align and I undershoot many items.  Then I spring for the hummus, avocados and expensive creamer...cause that's just how we roll.

      Finally, I add everything up and see how well it matches.  I might be way off occasionally, but as long as I'm under the $100 budget, I don't stress too much.

Below, is a list I've recently used.  The items I needed/meals I planned to fix are in blue.  The accurate prices are in orange.  This week's list was SUPER short because of the holidays.  I already had a lot in the stock (like the tilapia).  Plus we've eaten with family a lot and shared leftovers.  And we may or may not have started sleeping through breakfast...

     If I know I am going to be UNDER budget (like this week- yipee!), I toss in a gift card for us to use so we have some extra room in our entertainment budget OR I go home and transfer the leftover grocery money into one of our other accounts (emergency savings, down payment for a car, travel, etc.).  

     All in all, the list saves me time because it is organized according to the lay-out of the store.  It also helps hold me accountable.  

     I enjoy the splurges because I've prepared for them.  

Also, I'm content to say "no" to certain items because I know that will free up money for other items I might encounter as I shop.  

     For example, if I skip the almost $4 hummus- but later I see that holiday coffee creamer is on sale for around $2,  I'll pick that up instead.  

Just remember to do this in moderation.  You don't want to spend $20 extra just because you said "no" to one or two items.

     Using this method, I have been able to build everything from potted mums to wrapping paper to holiday decorations into our grocery budget.

     I know it sounds like a lot of work up front, but you really will catch your stride.  I usually spend about 2 full minutes tucked away by the dairy aisle- checking over everything.  Once you start to see the savings AND see how much time it saves you, it really will motivate you to stick with it.  

     If you want a copy of my chart/list that you can edit yourself, I can email you an attachment and you can re-type your own aisles and categories in.  


What do you think of the list? Did I miss anything?  How are you going to make it work for you and your family/budget? 

Love and one dollar avocados,


carmen @ life blessons said...

Incredible, Holly. I am uber impressed! Now you have to time yourself and see how fast it takes you. I imagine you're in and out of there faster than the speed racer! :D

Anonymous said...

What a great chart! My fiance and I spend way too much AND we have been fighting over who's turn it is to go grocery shopping. I'm working and he's in school. Neither of us like to go. I always like sending him because he is faster at it and always seems to spend less money and get just as many meals. I'm trying to figure out a better system for us so we can save money and quit fighting over it.

Holly said...

Carmen- how hilarious would it be if I timed one of those grocery-shopping game shows from the 80's and 90's. Remember those? You always got extra points if you took the time to grind your own coffee. :)

Ngnrdgrl- Thanks for stopping by! Yes, grocery shopping and meal planning are two big "hurdles" for us. Setting a $100 budget was really the answer for us. It doesn't matter really "what" gets purchased that week- as long as whoever does it is under budget. Tim will eat ramen noodles for the entire week but splurge on pop and expensive candy so I really have to watch him-heehe. I hope this chart helps you find some peace! :)