- Check my master pantry list for items we are out of or low on.
- Pull the coupons from the Sunday paper.
- Quickly scan the coupons, keeping only those for items I know we'll use, discard the others. (If you get really serious about couponing, you can ask friends and family to keep their coupon inserts for you.)
- Check store ads to see what items are on sale (I actually cut out the little picture from the paper so I am sure I remember the brand, size, quantity limits, etc. I use the pictures as my "list").
- Organize coupons, etc according to the layout of the store--dairy items together, frozen items, produce, meat, etc. (This helps ensure that I don't forget anything and I'm not traipsing back and forth searching for things.)
- Put list/photos, coupons and ad information together for when I'm ready to shop (often in an otherwise to-be-discarded junk mail envelope.
Shopping this way helps eliminate impulse buys. My policy is to only buy things that are on sale and pretty much only things we use on a regular basis. My pantry isn't full of odd items that were "a really good deal" that we'll never eat.
Because I shop so seldom and only buy items at or near their lowest price, I stock up. I'll typically buy 3 or 4 each of the non-perishables on my list. That way I'm sure to always have what I need for our most typical menus and won't have to run to the store for something to complete a recipe. When I get down to the last one or two, I start watching for it to be on sale again.
There are a lot of great sites that can help you become one of those shoppers where the stores almost pay you to take things home. The Grocery Game.com is helpful because it lets you know what the lowest expected price is over a several week span as well as when there are coupons to use on those items, so you really can buy things at the best possible price. I think it's helpful to have the 'pros' do all the legwork for you until you catch on to the system.
It takes a little more effort to be intentional about shopping and saving money, but once I got the hang of it, I've been surprised to find that shopping carefully and cooking at home can save both money and time, leaving more of each for more interesting and meaningful pursuits!
Go to the ant...Observe her ways and be wise, (she) prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8
Up next--planning your pantry