Monday, December 3, 2012

My Tips & Tricks For Shopping Once A Month

I have picked up quite a few tips and tricks about how to execute such a large shopping trip from personal experience. I have been doing my grocery shopping this way for a few months now, and here are some things that worked well for me, and a few that didn't work so well. 


Pre-Planning ; 

This is a huge importance to any successful shopping trip. If you do not plan how will you know what to buy?  Here is a step by step guide to planning a successful shopping trip:

  1. Create a meal plan 
  2. Write down everything you will need for every meal separating by dates 
  3. Go through pantry, fridge and freezer and cross things off your list that you already have in your home
  4. Review your sales flyers 
  5. Match coupons with your planned purchases to maximize savings
  6. Map out a shopping plan ;
    1. If you plan on going to more than one store ask yourself things like 'where is the best price for chicken this week?' and make a note of it.  
    2.  Plan which stores you will go to and what order
    3. Keep in mind that if you are going to multiple stores that purchasing things like ice cream at the first store might not be such a good idea
  7.  Make a master shopping list breaking it into the following categories is helpful for me: 
    1. Withing Food: Diary, Bakery, Deli, Pantry, Freezer, Meat, Stock Items
    2.  Other Things Such as: Pet, Paper Products, Cleaners, Health/Beauty and Other
    3. I also break my shopping list up by store
  8.  Pick a day and get up early and go!
  9. Commit! 
Once you have your plan than shopping is much easier. If you follow your plan and give yourself a little flexibility when shopping than it will make the whole time much more enjoyable. 

Ad Matching ;

Have you ever heard of this? Its where you take a flyer from one store into a store that offers ad matching and show them the lower price and they honor it. There are some grocery stores that I get the flyers for but can not go to because of the inconvenience of their location. I find ad matching very beneficial! Check out this great score I got this past shop on ground beef! A local grocery store had beef on sale for $2.00/lb and I could not get there, so I took their flyer to my local Real Canadian Superstore and the honored the sale price for me. 
 Look at that price difference!! From $15.52 down to $7.40 just for showing them another stores ad! That's $8.12 savings right there! And there was no effort put into it! By keeping an eye out for stores that offer ad matching you can optimize your savings very easily!

After Shopping;

Now don't think that just because you've gone out and bought the groceries doesn't mean that the journey ends there. If you have purchased food for all of your meals, then what are you planning on doing with those green beans that you don't have on the menu plan until the 20th? Are you just going to leave them in the fridge and hope they last? No. You need to wash, chop and freeze and vegetables or fruits (some) that you are not planning on using within the first week of your menu plan. 

Here is a list of the vegetables that I have froze in the past with no problems:
  • Broccoli 
  • Asparagus 
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Carrots 
  • Green Onions 
  • Mushrooms (Sauteed First)
  • Green Beans 

Basically anything except your soft fruits or vegetables can be cleaned, chopped, portioned and frozen. I find it so easy and convenient to do my vegetables like this. If I just need a cup of carrots for a recipe I can grab just a cup and I don't have to clean or chop or anything when I am in the middle of making dinner. It definitely cuts back on meal time preparation.

I also purchase my meat products for the whole month. That also requires portioning and freezing as well.
I find that instead of freezing the meat that i purchase in the containers that I purchase it in, that it is easier to portion the meat into dinner sized portions and place them in freezer bags. I label them with the date and pop them in the freezer. Than when I pull something out to be defrosted I don't have to worry about having too much or too little of that meat product.

For chicken I take one large freezer bag and label it with the date then I take ziploc portions and place them into the portion bag. After I place them into the large ziploc bag and press out all the air and pop it in the freezer. This way I can just grab one piece of chicken or more when I need it.

For ground beef, I usually purchased the family or club pack and then I break it into the appropriate dinner size and place them into individual freezer bags with the date.

I find that if I do all of my shopping, cleaning, chopping, portioning, and freezing in one day that I feel much better about the whole process. It is a great feeling of accomplisment when I know there is a month worth of meals in our kitchen. It is less to worry about. If I have to cram everything into one busy day to have satisfaction for the rest of the month than why not? It's worth it to me, and I hope that with time this process will become worth it to you as well.

My Freezer at the Beginning of a Month. I think I need a Chest Freezer!


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