I don’t know about you, but grocery shopping is one of my most dreaded weekly chores. Grocery shopping is a process and has multiple steps: menu planning, checking what items I have and what items I need, and shopping. This process involves things that are both limited and precious to me—my time and money! To make the grocery planning and shopping experience easier, break it down into simple steps which can save you both time and money!
Menu planning is one of the easiest ways to avoid the, “what are we having for dinner?” question each night. Designate a particular time each week to sit down and plan for the upcoming week’s meals. Look at your family’s calendar and be realistic about when your family will be home for meals. The summer months are busy and you may spend your nights at dance practices, ball games, or church activities. Take these events into consideration and plan accordingly.
Dinner is not the only meal that you must plan for; do not forget about breakfast and lunch. Thinking about breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals may seem overwhelming and you might feel like you make the same thing every week. Don’t fret! Make menu planning a family activity and have your children suggest favorite dishes. An even better idea is to incorporate them in the kitchen when fixing their suggested dish!
Once you and your family have made the weekly menu, take stock. What do you have in your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer? What items do you need to complete your meals? Make a list and as the Christmas carol suggests, check it twice!
With your grocery list made, it’s time to save money! Coupons are a great way to save money and you can look for coupons from your store flyer, the Internet, or your Sunday newspaper. Based upon your weekly coupons, be flexible with your menu. For example, if chicken is on sale, consider replacing your beef-based recipe with a chicken recipe. Remember, even the smallest of savings is still savings!
Keep in mind if something is on sale it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. If it is an item that you know your family doesn’t like, don’t buy it just because it’s a good deal. However, if you feel like the sale is just too good to pass up, consider donating the item to your local food bank.
Grocery stores are businesses and try to entice you to buy new things or buy more of a particular item. Be aware of their marketing tactics! Remember, the grocery list you and your family made…stick to it! Sticking to you list can help you save money and time! Buying things that are not on your list will make you spend more money than what you budgeted for.
When shopping for you weekly menu, don’t forget about your local Farmer’s Market. Take advantage of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits and incorporate them into your weekly menu. What better way to increase your vegetable and fruit intake while also supporting your local community!
Farmer’s Markets are lively and fun, so pick a day that works for your family’s schedule and make it a family outing! Some markets are open on weekdays in addition to weekends; check your newspaper for dates and times of your local Farmer’s Market. Make it a fun family experience and challenge you kids to the new fruit or vegetable challenge! Challenge your kids to try one new fruit or vegetable each week and to keep track of all the new fruits and vegetables they tried throughout the summer. At the end of the summer, have you child decide what item was their favorite and make a dish with that item as the main ingredient.
Once you have made your menu, clipped coupons, shopped, and hopefully saved money, consider using your savings and purchase a ripe and refreshing watermelon. Beat the summer heat and make Families, Food, and Fitness recipe, refreshing watermelon sorbet.
Remember, you don’t have to dread grocery shopping. Break it down into simple steps, incorporate your family and enjoy eating home-cooked meals together. Take advantage of coupons and your Farmer’s market. Be savvy this summer and save at the supermarket!
Hunter, J. (March 2014) Chip and Save: Stretching Your Grocery Dollar. MoneyWi$e. Retrieved from http://issuu.com/moneywise/docs/2014-03-moneywise-newsletter
Written by: Katie Stamper, Project Manger Child and Family Learning Network