When I go shopping, I always use cash. I find that I am much more careful when I have to stick to a limit. If I used a credit or debit card or check, I am more tempted to buy extra products and not stay in my budget. I realize that this is not the best way for everyone. I am just sharing what works for me.
First, I look at the running list of items I need that I jot down every time I run out of something or it looks like I will need to buy more.
Second, I look at the menu that I have planned around what we have in the cupboards and freezer that need to be used, and write down all the ingredients that I need that I don't have.
Third, I write a list and estimate how much each item will cost. I try to estimate high, so I have a little extra money in case I find one or two things at a good price.
2.0 Sour Cream
3.0 Italian Sausage
You get the idea. If it looks like things will cost more than 50 dollars, I cut back on items or switch a more expensive recipe to a cheaper one in my menu. Most of the time, these expenses don't add up to more than 25 dollars, so it gives me so flexibility to add in some great sale items each week.
Next, I go through the ads and write circle the things I MIGHT be interested in buying. I write a list on a different piece of paper that is like this:
3.00 Strawberries 2 lb.
1.74 Naturally Nested Eggs
1.79 Donald Duck Orange Juice
1.74 Tribe hummus
1.99 La Victoria Salsa
1.00 Sour Cream
5.99 Organic Berries B1G1F
4.49 Organic Cantaloupe B1G1F
1.49 Organic Plums - 1 lb @1.49 lb.
Then, I compare the two lists, and make changes:
2.0 Salsa (I originally had 3.0, but it was on sale at Rosauer's)
2.0 Eggs (I originally had 3.0, but there are also on sale at Rosauer's)
I will delete the Tribe Hummus because I have all of the ingredients to make it at home and we like homemade better. I will also delete all the organic fruit at Safeway, because it will cost too much this week since I have to buy some spices and am trying a new recipe that has some expensive ingredients.
I originally had 3.0 for apples, but since I can get 2 lbs. of strawberries for 3.0 I will switch them out this week because my daughter really likes strawberries and would rather have them.
I also have to decide if I want to buy sour cream at Smith's for 1.0 or buy Tilamook, which is a better quality sour cream for 1.79. Usually I try to get the organic, but some weeks I just will go for the item that costs less. Since I am going to buy Tilamook this time, I don't really need to go to Smith's this week. The only store I will go for sales is Rosauer's. I will get my regular non sale items at Walmart or Town and Country which is a local store. Their prices are cheaper at these two places.
Then, I make my final list to go shopping with. This may sound more complicated than it is. It only takes me a total of 15-30 minutes at the most to do this. I have a good amount of fruit and veggies from last week, so if I need to cut back there I can. I also have frozen veggies we need to eat. Here is what I will buy this week:
1.5 Grapes 1 lb. @ 1.49/lb
3.0 Strawberries 2.99 for 2 lbs. (1)
1.5 Blueberries 2/3.0 (get 1)
2.0 Peaches 2 lbs. @ 99 cents/lb
2.0 La Victoria Green Salsa
2.0 Naturally Nested Eggs 1.74 (get 1)
2.0 Tilamook Sour Cream 1.79 (1)
4.0 Italian Sausage 2 half pound packages at the deli - Redneck Brand
3.0 Rye berries 3 lbs. in bulk
.5 Red Pepper Flakes 1/2 to 1 teaspoon in bulk
Town and Country
7.0 Poppy seeds, Garlic powder and Ginger
3.0 Mozz. Cheese
2.0 Small bottle of Italian dressing
.5 Fresh Garlic
4.0 Green Chilies - 4 cans (I could also substitute another bottle of green salsa for the chilies if I want to)
2.0 Hidden Valley Ranch Powder
1.5 Jalapenos (I could also just buy one fresh jalapeno if I want to depending on the price)
I am at 52.5 right now which is over 50, so I can either skip something or just buy less produce when I get to the store. I think I have enough cushion that I am not going to skip anything this week, but I may buy a store brand or buy less carrots or bananas or Italian sausage. You may think that some of my estimates are too high, and they may be, but that is how I like it. It gives me flexibility and some freedom, as I said earlier, to buy something else that isn't on the list if I want. I am not stuck to the list. There are things I need to get, but there are also things that I don't have to get and I can substitute if I want. After I go shopping today, I will post the results and you can see what I really spent.
How do you shop? Do you plan ahead or just buy sales and eat from your stockpile? What works for you?
Please comment or link up and share your ideas.