Grocery shopping ain't cheap! Especially for a family of five eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. Overtime, I realized that the only way I could maintain this lifestyle was to save big on time and money. Furthermore, as a Mompreneur (entrepreneur mommy), my time for cooking is limited--and so is my money to spend on fast food. Finally, as the saying goes "time is money", here is how I use it wisely when grocery shopping.
Make a Meal Plan (and stick to it)
Meal planning is important before grocery shopping because you'll already know what you need to buy, which will keep your eyes away from unnecessary impulse purchases that waste money (and time) when grocery shopping. As you write down each meal, make sure you're simultaneously writing down all of the ingredients you'll need for every recipe on one piece of paper. Don't worry if you think you already have one of the ingredients; the next step will take care of that. The most important thing is to get everything written down first, to avoid any "oopsies" later if you accidentally miss an ingredient. Here's an old example of what one of my meal plans look liked:
Make a Grocery List (and stick to it)
Next, take that grocery list from your meal planning session and scan your kitchen, fridge, pantry, etc. and cross out of all the items that you already have. Then, write down everything else that you notice you'll need or will need soon--these are usually staple items in your home (i.e. we go through brown sugar and ketchup in my house fast). So, when I notice something has run out or is running low, I write it down. Although it may not be an ingredient from my meal plan, I just add it to my list anyway because I know I'm going to run out of it soon. This saves more time and gas by planning my shopping list to get all of my groceries in one day.
**Quick note** If you want to avoid the "kitchen scan" altogether, keep a paper and pen in the kitchen (we keep ours on the fridge). Anytime we run out of something, we write it down here so when it's time to make the next grocery list, the scanning part is not necessary. Here's a good example of one here at Amazon.
Make a Grocery Trip Schedule (And stick to it)
Making a grocery trip schedule is probably the most important step that saves me the time and money. I usually do this at the end of every month when I do my calendar for the next month. There are four grocery stores that I go to for all of my grocery shopping: Ebenezer Grocery, Walmart's organic section, Lemon Street Market, and Giant's organic section. I know some may be think, "whoa four stores, that's a lot!" My response would be: "No, not if you plan ahead and break it up". Contrary to what most commercials say, the less you shop, the more you save. Here's what my grocery shopping calendar looks like:
I pick two days a week, every other week, to do my grocery shopping. My life is very busy, and every day looks different, so the two days usually depend on what my month ahead looks like. Here's what I always know about the days: Each day must have four hours of uninterrupted time (to shop and put the groceries away), and I prefer two consecutive days in a row when I go to Ebenezer's. I usually do my main stores Ebenezer's and Walmart's Organic Sections on Day 1 ( where I get 85% of my groceries) and then Giant and Lemon Street Market (for the items I couldn't find at my main stores).
Find stores that sell in bulk (for good prices)
Find stores that sell organic goods in bulk for good prices (and don't stop until you find one! I don't know if I'm lucky or what, but there is this local, family owned, grocery market in a small town (Ephrata, PA) called Ebenezer Grocery. They are not a chain store, so this is the only one that I am aware of that exists. They sell organic, vegan-friendly options throughout their store for 60-80% LESS of what it's sold at stores like Whole Foods and Giant! Here's a slideshow of what their prices and items offers look like:
I only have to come here once a month because I can buy a MONTH'S worth of groceries, in one trip, for less than $250! That's where the money saving part comes in. If I got this same amount of food (full of organic, plant-based, whole foods groceries) at any other chain grocery store (such as Whole Foods or Giant Organic) my total would have been at least $600 but it was less than $250! Check out what my cart looked like! Literally saving hundreds on these groceries... every month!
For those who are still in shock here's my receipt...again for my family of five for the next month!
Long story short: If you live in central Pennsylvania, this needs to be your new shopping spot. If you don't, you need to find one like it. I drive here once a month. Although it's a 45 minute drive, it's totally worth it. I know some people who shop at Costco's and again Walmart has some good deals on their organic groceries too. The main objective is to just find a store where you can find groceries cheap and in bulk. And if you can't, try to get as close to this as possible. Once I get all this good food that lasts up to a month, I spend a whole day to meal prep everything! Stay tuned for my post on meal prepping (subscribe to my newsletter to be notified when it's out)!
now Time to save some time and money! 😊
In conclusion, if you (1) plan what to buy (meal plan and grocery list), (2) when you'll buy it (grocery shopping schedule), (3) where you'll buy it (research the cheapest places in your area), and (4) stock up and purchase in bulk-- I guarantee you will save money and see your grocery bill decrease. For me, I save hundreds monthly with this method (others will vary depending on one's family size and amount of groceries needed). But hopefully, these tips will become useful to your grocery shopping routine and save you money, period. Let me know how you do your grocery shopping. If you have any questions, or if you plan to try any of these tips, I'd love to hear how they help!
**Quick tip before you leave the house: Clean/Make space for groceries before you go.
After you do your kitchen scan and make grocery list and BEFORE you head out to do your grocery shopping, clean out your fridge and pantries! If you get rid of any old groceries/foods, and make space for the new groceries, this will make the process of putting away your groceries so much smoother and faster.
for those really.. really want to save!
I only have so much time in a day to focus on grocery shopping, meal prepping, and saving, etc. so for those who want to take it an extra step: Here's an article that really dives deep into several tips and tricks to saving while grocery shopping!
Entrepreneur, writer, holistic health enthusiast. Passionate about justice & equality. Known at home as "My Nubian Queen" and "Mommy".