10 Ways to Grocery Shop

You know there are different methods to getting the food to your cupboards that range from ultra convenient to complex and frugal.  A search on Pinterest regarding the subject gives and overwhelming amount of pins all claiming to be the best grocery shopping method. (*I'm pulling this one out of the archives for and update :) hope you find it to be useful!)

I think I've tried every grocery shopping method known and, honestly, I can't say for sure that one way or another works consistently perfect for me. Life changes and with it, the way I spend my time and energy and money must change. So, I'll give you all that I've learned about grocery shopping and you can decided what works for you.

Here are 10 ways to grocery shop for your enjoyment!

Looking for a little extra help in the kitchen? Check out my Meal Planning Printables!

Weekly, monthly, coupons, or no, in this post you'll find a description of 10 ways to grocery shop so you can pick what's best for you!

  1. Weekly With No Plan

Time: only as long as it takes to get in and out of the store, however could result in taking multiple trips if you forget something.

Cost: $$$$

Store: Any

Sanity: Giddy until the end of the month and upon seeing your budget

This is the method you would use if you have no time (or desire) to sit down with recipe books and make a lovely little list and then spend hours clipping coupons and researching to find the best price for every single item. You think of what you might need for the week, go to the store, and buy those items, plus maybe a little more because they look so good on the shelf.

Pros: The time, although, as mentioned above, if you have to run to the store multiple times then you probably aren't saving time.

Cons: You'll spend a lot of money doing this. Without a list or plan you are running off of impulse buying, which easily leads to overspending.

2. Weekly with a Plan

Time: an hour or so getting your plan and list together, then as long as it takes to shop every week.

Cost: $$$

Store: Any

Sanity: a tiny bit insane

Alright, so you took a little extra time before you left and actually chose some recipes to follow and made a list. You didn't, however take any time with those annoying coupons and such and you decided to go to the nearest grocery store for convenience. You have your meals planned out for the week so you are able to run in and out without contemplating every ingredient, and you are able to resist some of those impulse buys. You are going to the grocery store every week, though, so the more time you spend there, the more you are tempted by the goodies that you really don't need and the more you spend on gas throughout the month.

Pros: A little extra time planning does some good for your budget

Cons: You pay for going every week.

Weekly, monthly, coupons, or no, in this post you'll find a description of 10 ways to grocery shop so you can pick what's best for you!

3. Weekly, with a Plan, and Couponing

Time: roughly two hours planning at home, shopping every week and extra time at the counter.

Cost: $$$

Store: Any but Aldi

Sanity: Slightly crumbling at the edges, but intact

Here's the truth about couponing: if you can live without name brand items, it doesn't save you money. {gasp!} But what about the extreme couponing show where they make a $400 grocery bill into $0.75? Yep, that's $400 worth of mustard and deodorant that will never get used. Coupons only come from name brands which cost more to begin with, so by the time you spent that extra minute and a half finding and clipping the coupon, another two minutes picking out the exact product, and another three minutes shuffling around in your purse to find the darn thing, give it to the cashier, and let the add the discount, you've saved enough to make it $0.02 cheaper than the store brand and $0.02 more expensive than Aldi has it for. Now, if you feel you must have the name brand of some item, then definitely go the extra step to clip a coupon, because then you are saving yourself a little money. Just know that it's not the best way to save.

Pros: Save on name brands

Cons: takes extra time when you could just pick up the store brand. Still going to the store every week.

4. Weekly with a Plan and Price Matching

Time: if you do it yourself - add an extra hour or so to your planning and extra 15 mins to your check out.

Cost: $$

Store: Target and Walmart

Sanity: Kind of unhinged at the extra work it takes(unless if you use Deals to meals) and the stress of taking extra time to check out .

So, you could get all your grocery store ads together and find the best deals on certain products and then spend the rest of the day driving around town finding those deals. Or, you can price match. Walmart and Target offer that if you know of a store that sells and item cheaper, they'll give you the competitors price. It has to be the same unit size and brand (unless if its store brand). I know at Walmart, you don't even have to have the ad on you per their policy.

Now, you're thinking to yourself that there is no way you are going to have the time it takes to scour every ad to find the best deal. Well, you don't have to. There is this amazing website: Deals to Meals that does this for you. They do all the hard work of searching the store ads and comparing them to Walmart. If it's cheaper elsewhere, they'll let you know. They also do this awesome thing where they put together a menu and grocery list based off of the deals going on that week. What! You heard me right. :)

To learn more about Price Matching and Deals to Meals, check out Jordan's amazing money saving blog: Fun, Cheap, or Free.

Pros: Price matching saves you money. Need I say more?

Cons: it does take a little extra work (unless if you use  Deals to Meals!)

5. Shopping weekly, but with a monthly plan

Time: Extra hours planning at the beginning of the month, but then only as much time as it takes you to shop for the rest of it.

Cost: $$$

Store: Any

Sanity: doing alright as long as the weekly shopping trips go perfectly

So, now you are sitting down with a calendar and marking out the nights you have plans or will probably eat out or have leftovers. Then you fill in what meals you want to eat for the entire month. You make your grocery lists according to those meals, so when you go shopping every week, you just grab your list and go.

Pros: if you are super busy, but can commit a few consecutive hours a month, this is for you. You devote less time each week on planning, but your not just going without a list, so you save by not impulse buying

Cons: You are still going weekly

Weekly, monthly, coupons, or no, in this post you'll find a description of 10 ways to grocery shop so you can pick what's best for you!

6. Monthly

Time: Double the amount of time of a weekly shopping trip

Cost: $$$$$

Store: Any

Sanity: Where's the nearest hospitol?

You don't have a plan, you just know you are not coming back for four weeks. Fast forward four weeks and you've got a ton of wasted food because you never did know what you were going to do with that pound of lettuce. Most of the things you bought expired before they could get eaten. Sad day.

Pros: you don't have to go to the store more than once a month

Cons: You sent a bunch of money away with the trash because food got wasted. My point is: don't try to shop once a month without a plan.

7. Monthly with a Plan

Time: half a day- a few hours planning, a few hours shopping.

Cost: $$$

Store: Any

Sanity: almost insane

Just as if you were planning for the month but shopping monthly, you want to get your calendar out, mark out the days you won't be cooking, fill in the recipes you want to use, and create your list based off of that. The advantage to shopping once a month is you can buy bulk items which drives the price per unit down a little. If you shop at Aldi, they don't have bulk items, but their price per unit is already often cheaper, so it works out. PAY ATTENTION TO EXPIRATION DATES! You will destroy your budget if all your food goes to waste. If its something like milk that can't last the entire month, plan to stop in the store and get some, or learn if that item can be frozen. This website is a good resource for freezing food.

Pros: You don't have to drive to the store every week which saves you on gas and exposes you less often to the tempting displays of food-you-don't-need.

Cons: Its a huge chore and requires precision when considering expiration dates. Don't attempt on a bad night's sleep!

Weekly, monthly, coupons, or no, in this post you'll find a description of 10 ways to grocery shop so you can pick what's best for you!

8. Monthly with a Plan and Couponing

Sanity: Crazy!

I'm not going to reiterate exactly what I said about couponing. It's the same concept when you take it to a monthly scale. You may save a little more on those buy one, get one deals, but again, only on name brands.

9. Monthly with a Plan and Price Matching

Time: Half a day, less if you use Deals to Meals

Cost: $$

Store: Target and Walmart

Sanity: basically insane

Take what I said earlier about price matching and put it on a grander level. The  Deals to Meals menu plans are great, but a little much for just two people, so, if I'm shopping for the month I only use two weeks worth of their plans and it works out to be the right amount of food. The only disadvantage to using their menus for the whole month is you are no longer buying the things that are on sale for all the weeks.

Now, as much as I love Deals to Meals there is one other disadvantage. They only compare the prices of what is found in the store ad, but some stores (cough, cough, Aldi) have cheaper items that are not in the ad. So, you get the best prices at Walmart by price matching, but only on items that are found in store ads.

Pros: This method is nice to your budget. You get good deals by price matching, you can buy bulk because its for the whole month, and you aren't taking as many trips to the store.

Cons: I can't think of a glaring Con! This is probably my favorite method and has proven to save me the most money. I give this one a thumbs up :)

10. Freezer Meals

Time: Brew a pot of coffee and allot a whole day for this one!

Cost: $

Store: Any

Sanity: As nuts as you can get

I did this when I was pregnant and crazy with nesting instincts. My Mom and I got together and literally spent the entire day together to do the shopping, cooking, and bagging up, but it was soooo worth it. We followed Lambert's Lately's post on freezer meals, but doubled everything so we got 21 meals. I can't remember how much we spent, but it was less than a normal month of grocery costs. I'd love to give you all the tips and tricks we learned, but for time's sake that may have to be a future post. For now, I'm going to refer you to my Freezer Meals Pinterest board where you can find all the links I learned from. (Follow my page while you are there)

Pros: You end up with tons of delicious meals that only need to be thrown in the crockpot right in your freezer. The cost per meal is outrageously cheap and you only have one mess and one day of shopping.

Cons: you have to have a big freezer and it's a ton of work.

Weekly, monthly, coupons, or no, in this post you'll find a description of 10 ways to grocery shop so you can pick what's best for you!

Conclusion

Now, while your scouring Pinterest to find a way to grocery shop and feeling totally overwhelmed at all the opinions of what's best, I hope this post will help you hone in on what is best for you based off of your time, money, and sanity level.