Have I mentioned on here how much I detest going to the grocery store? If not, then please accept this as my official word that I really don’t like the grocery store.
It wasn’t always that way for me though, I’ll admit it. We used to be the couple that went to the grocery store every couple of days. We’d shop for what sounded good for supper that night, or what was on special at the deli. It was impulse shopping to the max. And when it was all said and done, we’d usually end up spending twice what we normally spend on groceries because we didn’t plan. Essentially, for just a few dollars more each night, we could have gone out to eat.
So now, for me grocery shopping is just a necessary evil that we must encounter each week in order to survive. I love looking at all the stuff, but I really hate spending the money for something that’s not going to stay with me longer than 8 hours. I believe the only enjoyment I get out of it is the time spent with my beloved husband. And as soon as I figure out a way around our HOA rules, I’m gonna grow chickens and steaks in my garden so I don’t ever have to go to a grocery store again!
Sam and I grocery shop once a week, tops. We go together. It’s one of the activities we always do as a couple. Partially because if we go alone we’re more likely to come home with tons of stuff we don’t need and nothing we do need, and because we both like to cook we enjoy perusing the aisles for interesting ingredients. And, it’s an hour out of our week where we are together, away from home, where we’re rarely bothered by emails and phone calls, and barking dogs who think no one is allowed to walk on the trail behind our house.
When we go, we almost always go with a list and many times I’ve already written down a partial menu so I know for sure what ingredients I need. I know there are millions of men and women who can go to the grocery store without a list and buy what’s on sale that week, and come up with delicious and nutritious meals for their families. If you’re one of those people, I commend you. Sam and I are not those people. If we shopped like that we’d end up with a cart full of junk food. We’re attracted to the snack aisles as it is, and if we’re shopping by what’s on sale, then the 2 bags of Ruffles for $5 and the French Onion dip that’s $1 off would look pretty appetizing to us.
Making a menu allows me to go through my pantry, freezer and refrigerator and see what I have already on hand, and it helps me to formulate a cooking strategy. That way I don’t come home with 4 cans of tomato sauce (because they were on sale), when all I really needed was one can of tomato paste. And making a menu ensures that I don’t end up with a cupboard full of beanie-wienies and spinach that are just going to find their way into the food pantry box at church.
The other thing a menu allows me to do is to try new recipes. I get bored with repetition in cooking. Sure, I have some old standbys, but in a month (unless we’re dieting) we rarely eat the same thing twice. I love to read cooking websites and cookbooks, and when I look over a recipe I say two things to myself – 1. “hey, that sounds really good,” and 2. “I have all those ingredients except ________. I’ll add that to my grocery list for next week and we’ll try this.”
Also, we’ve found that making a menu and a shopping list keeps us honest. We are less likely to pick up the ready-made convenience foods that cost an arm and a leg and have no real nutritional value if I know what’s for dinner every night of the week. It also keeps us away from the junk food aisles because we know we have our weekly budget planned out and spent right down to the last penny. When we shop from our list we are less likely to spend all of our grocery budget money each week, giving me a little extra for the weeks when the store has really good sales – like the tomato sauce or steaks.
If you’re trying to manage your cash and you don’t shop with a list or a menu, I encourage you to give it a try for a month, and see if it doesn’t save you at least $10 a week. Take a few minutes and look through your cupboards and see what you’ve already got on hand that needs to be used up and cook from that. Stop paying deli prices for chicken that you can roast in the oven yourself and start putting money back into your wallet.