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I don’t know what it is about the darn grocery budget, but it seems like something everyone wants to spend less on. If you have little kids, meal planning and grocery shopping might sound about as fun as repeatedly poking your eyes with dull colored pencils.
But, this process can become relatively simple if you try it a few times and tweak it as necessary to make it work for you. Regardless of why you want to save money on groceries, this process works. When I meal plan this way, I can save about $50 on a week’s worth of groceries. (And no, I’m not an extreme couponer. In fact, I hate coupons.)
So, let’s get to it! Here’s the biggest way we are saving money on groceries.
USE A LOCAL DEAL BLOGGER’S WEEKLY AD LIST TO PRICE MATCH AT WALMART.
Update: My Walmart no longer price matches, but I used this system for YEARS to save tons of money on groceries!! Now, I meal plan monthly and use Walmart Grocery Pickup once a week to save tons of time & money.
Here’s my complete review of Walmart Grocery. And you can learn my monthly meal planning system by clicking the button below.
Here’s what I mean.
There are money saving/ bargain shopping bloggers all over that post a list every week of all the grocery store deals from the ads in the Sunday newspaper. And Walmart will price match all those sales within 50 miles of the store.
So, if you want to meal plan around what’s on sale, no longer do you have to flip through all the grocery store ads in the Sunday paper!
In Omaha, I use Mom Saves Money. I just pull up her site when I make my grocery list. She lists 7-10 local stores’ ads’ sale prices. (Red = super duper sale price.) She posts this list every week and includes every store in the Omaha metro area.
HERE’S A SIMPLE MEAL-PLANNING PROCESS:
You will need:
- 2 pieces of paper to make your grocery list.
- A meal planning calendar. Here are several I made that you can print for free.
1. Open the current week’s list and browse what’s on sale.
Double check the dates! It stinks to make a whole price matching grocery list only to find out that was the wrong week… I know from experience.
Walmart only matches exact brands and quantities. You can’t price match a Kroger brand item (or any other store’s generic brand) at Walmart because they don’t carry other store’s generic brands. Plus, Walmart’s generic brand is almost always as cheap as any other store’s sales on non-fresh food.
I buy the following things generic brand from Walmart or Aldi, so I don’t price match these:
- Canned & boxed goods – canned tomatoes, cereals, broths for recipes, etc..
- Snack food – goldfish, chips, crackers, trail mix, almonds, etc…
- Baking ingredients – I always get these at Aldi
- Regular milk & eggs – always cheapest at Aldi and Walmart anyway.
Price matching saves a lot of money on these things:
- Produce – whatever fruit or vegetables are on sale that week are what we eat for snacks & sides
- Yogurt, Almond milk
- Frozen Pizza
2. Jot down food items and sale prices/ locations on a piece of paper.
This will become your grocery shopping list.
Make sure to include quantities if specified. For example, Birdseye frozen vegetables come on sale every so often, and the ad list specifies “10-14 oz for .79/each.” I make a note of that on my list because you can’t price match a giant bag if the small bag is on sale.
3. Meal plan according to what’s on sale – here are some recipe ideas!
Use a monthly meal planning calendar to write down meal ideas from the sale list you just made.
Tip: I write down anything semi-grocery related for the week on our meal planning calendar since schedule related things affect the meals I make. Things that affect what I meal plan and buy are:
- Bringing food to a gathering
- Bringing a meal to someone
- Double a freezer meal
- Someone is visiting from out of town
- People are coming over for dinner
- If we have a playdate that I plan to feed a bunch of kiddos for
- A weeknight activity or special-event
Sometimes I can glance at the sale list I just made and favorite meals come to mind that use those on-sale ingredients. If you keep doing this week in and week out, it will get easier to plan around what’s on sale.
This website, Supercook.com, will suggest meals based on what you have and what’s on sale.
If we’re having people over or I want to try a new and fun recipe, I’ll browse my Easy Weeknight Dinners pinterest board.