grocery goodness

Since posting about our chalkboard, I’ve received a few questions regarding our grocery shopping routine. We’re not professionals, by any means. We’re just trying to eat healthy & buy smart.
Before our grocery trips, we take inventory. We open up all of the doors, and I write down what’s currently in our pantry, fridge, & freezer. Then I look through websites & cookbooks, comparing recipes to the list of what we currently have. I try to select meals that require buying only one or two additional items. This usually takes about an hour total.
Our buying system varies, depending on seasons/pregnancies/babies/finances. 
Here’s a little glimpse into a typical winter shopping trip on a very tight budget:
Sticking to the list. We do not vary from the list, no matter how painful. 
Shopping with someone helps with accountability!
No catering to the little ones. We cannot afford the cost (or trash) of individually-packaged toddler foods. Our kids eat what we eat, even at an early age. These animal crackers can be enjoyed by everyone, and the big tub is great for customizable serving sizes.
Buying it frozen. We are blessed to have three farmers’ markets within as many miles. There is nothing like fresh, local produce! During the winter months, though, frozen is a good alternative. The crops are harvested when ready, making them more nutrient-rich. And we’re not throwing out rotten, uneaten veggies at the end of the week.
Keeping it simple. Chris is not too happy about the recent switch… he used to buy individual (read: fancy) ingredients and make a huge salad to keep in the fridge. It was delicious, but we often threw out brown lettuce and soggy toppings. Right now, less is more. We buy just enough for one or two meals, and no toppings.
No filling the cart. If we must balance & stack items to keep everything in, then we’re not sticking to the list. If we’ve forgotten to check the remaining amount of a staple item at home, we don’t buy it this trip. We’ll be back next week – same time, same place.
We successfully fed two adults and three kids all week long on this amount.  Dinners consisted of shrimp & grits, spaghetti, and beans & rice. We also ate breakfasts and lunches at home. It’s not gourmet and it’s not always exciting, but we get it done. This is an ever-evolving process for us, and I love to learn… please feel free to share your tips!
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18 thoughts on “grocery goodness”

  1. Love TJ’s! Good food, good prices, and good for you. My husband and I are far from experts, but we have gotten pretty good at couponing. We subscribe to the Sunday paper ($9.60 per month), and use bc it’s free. We shop at Harris Teeter for couponing (otherwise we do not shop there). Our best savings are on things like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, dish detergent, laundry detergent, over the counter meds, paper goods, etc.

  2. @Courtney – I’d love to start couponing in the future! I’ve been slow to get on board because we don’t buy a lot of the items for which I see coupons. And the ladies with the binders in the grocery store scare me :) I’ve heard great things about SoutherSavers. I’m gonna check it out! And the Sunday paper idea is a great one!

  3. I used to coupon before I began buying mostly natural and organic. There aren’t coupons for anything that I buy now that I only buy fresh, organic, and natural. I don’t want to start a debate here or offend anyone, but things that have coupons are usually not that great for you. The one exception I’ve seen is coupons for Tom’s of Maine and Horizon milk. Other than that.. it’s all oreo’s and hamburger helper.

  4. Also, I have a question for you, how do you choose what to buy organic and what not to buy organic? I noticed you bought organic milk, but not organic butter. Just curious. I’m just starting to shop organic and interested in what others are doing for their families. :)

  5. @Kristin – While we try to buy as much organic as possible, we focus on hormone/chemical/preservative-free.

    As far as produce goes: If organic bananas aren’t available, it’s not the end of the world because we don’t eat the peels. But we will make sure to buy organic apples. Butter, I’m not sure. Maybe it wasn’t available? I can’t remember!

    It’s why I like Trader Joes. Everything there is natural & free of preservatives, even if it’s not organic. So it’s a great resource!

  6. you can buy coupons on there for things you ACTUALLY use…not just random stuff from the newspaper…they’re between 0.08 and 0.12 cents but end up saving you between .50 and 2.00. super good deals. also, always has amazing coupon links and ways they save money each week.

  7. The ladies with the binders scare me too! That whole system eludes me. After a little trial and error, we found it MUCH easier to only cut the coupons we want to use for THAT particular trip. I just write the date on the front of the weekly coupon insert(s) and file them by month. If I check out and find enough good deals warrant a coupon trip to HT, I only clip those coupons right before going to the store. Southern Savers will tell you what date and specific insert the coupon is located for each item. I also know what you mean about not buying a lot of items that there are coupons for. It really only works for items you are not brand loyal towards. We do however get anything that ends up being free. If we can’t use it, it is easily donated or given to someone who can.

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