Updated: Oct 9
How many of you despise going to the grocery store? Walking through each crowded aisle, selecting that one squeaky cart, having to stand in line... all of my friends always vent about how they hate that weekly "chore".
I honestly cannot relate. I don't know what it is, but I love going to the grocery store! Maybe it's because I get so excited about what I'm going to cook that week. Maybe it's because it's a necessary task that I don't have to really think much to do. Maybe it's because I love to plan, and going in there prepared really makes me feel great. In any case, grocery shopping is one of my happy household duties!
This post is pretty personal to me because it is the reason I even started Coined Cuisine! So, let's take a journey back to the Fall of 2016. I had just moved to an entirely new state, started my graduate school journey, and began studying for the CPA exam. I filled my pockets with biweekly checks from an apparel store, but with my heavy school schedule, I didn't log as many hours as I could've. All of that translates into = Broke AF.
Cutting out unnecessary expenses like bars or shopping was super easy because with the CPA exam, you don't have any time for anything fun (where are all of my CPAs? I know y'all can vouch for me!) So the one expense that I could really focus on ensuring I reduced was my grocery bill. Using the tips and tricks I talk about below, I managed to eat healthily and stay satisfied with about $20 a week in groceries! I thought this was normal until I would talk to my friends who were spending $60+ for just them... so I kept my practices up (even when my checks increased) because who has time to overspend on groceries?
Anyway, keep on reading for Coined Cuisine's surefire ways to save on your grocery bill. Let me know in the comments if you use some of these practices already, or are planning to implement before your next grocery run!
Note: This post is not sponsored at all (yet!), I really just enjoy these two grocery stores and want to spread the love. (However, if either one sees this - reach out to your girl for some collaborations!)
1. Find "Your" Store(s) - and Stay Loyal!
I'm that weirdo that won't move into an area unless there is a Kroger with a fuel station within 15 minutes of my home. Why? Because staying loyal to a grocery store can have long-term financial benefits.
The two stores that I grab groceries from are Kroger and Sprouts Farmers Market. Basically, all of my groceries (including the prices I share on this site) come from these stores unless I happen to be at a Target or something, and remember I need a one-off item.
The price/quality ratio is great here. I can always find quality products in their meat/seafood and produce aisle.
Fuel points! For every $100 spent, you get 10 cents off of your gas at any Kroger Fuel Station (and 3 cents off at Shell.)
The sales are crazy good. They always have combinations of markdowns and sales throughout the store, every week. My personal favorite is the 10 for $10 because you don't even have to buy 10 to get the deal!
There are some items where I need to get the brand name, but for many others, it doesn't matter. Kroger has amazing store-brand products, including organic ones.
They have hands down, some of the best prices for fresh produce. I'm talking big containers of berries for $1.25, large avocados for 50 cents, and bulk dry goods to really cut down on costs.
I just always feel so healthy walking into a farmers market. Knowing that my chicken is locally and sustainably sourced, or that these green beans were grown by a smaller farmer really just makes the difference in a recipe.
They have the best selection of dietary restriction items - vegan, gluten-free, Whole30/Paleo... you can find it all here.
Their vitamin health section is a great perk as well. I usually come here for my supplements instead of other more expensive places where the associates aren't really knowledgeable about the product.
I wanted to give you guys my reasons for staying loyal to the stores - you may have your own (or a whole other store with your own reasons) - but the most important thing is to rack up loyalty points. For Kroger in particular, the more you shop the more they use data to begin giving you deals on the things you buy the most; which leads me to the next point...
2. Coupons Aren't Just for "Crazy Old Ladies" Anymore
I have no shame in bringing out a wad of coupons. And the best thing about Kroger is that they mail you personal coupons that are geared towards things you repeat buy!
There's nothing like opening my mail and I have a coupon for $1 off my baby carrots, or $0.50 off the frozen broccoli florets I buy almost every time I go to the store (I really love broccoli, okay?) Every couple of weeks, they even send me free coupons for stuff like Oreos - a rare treat because I have little self-control, but one that I'll indulge in nonetheless!
Not only does Kroger have physical coupons that they send you, but you can also use their app to digitally add coupons to your account in real-time. The coupons vary from food items, to gift cards, to household/kitchen supplies. It's one of my favorite features because there are always multiple ways to cut costs, and some coupons can even be used up to 5x in a single transaction!
3. Plan, Plan, Plan
This may be where some of you guys roll your eyes, but I promise it will make the biggest difference. The next time you're watching TV, or waiting at the doctor's office, or anything else where you'll normally just be scrolling your phone, make out a quick grocery list for the week.
It's proven that going into the grocery store hungry or without a real plan will cause you to spend 2-3x more than you really should. With about 15 minutes of planning, all of those savings are going straight into your pocket.
The best strategy is to look at the Weekly Ads (both Kroger and Sprouts have these) and you can see what's on sale for that week. To keep things interesting in my menu rotation, I usually shop directly from the markdowns and then create my meals around those. You can use a notes app on your phone or even digitally "mark" the ads on each app. Super easy!
4. Make Connections
No, you don't have to become best friends with every store employee. The best trick for keeping your grocery bill down is to bridge connections between your meals so you minimize waste and avoid buying a bunch of one-off ingredients you'll never use again.
Let me give you an example:
Between coupons and weekly ads, I want to grab these items that are on sale for my store run:
- Chicken Breasts
- Deli Turkey Meat
- Bell Peppers
These are the meals I'm going to plan out for [at least] the next week and a half:
Adult "Lunchables" (using deli meat, cheese, and crackers)
Chicken Salad (using crackers or bread and chicken breasts)
Stuffed bell peppers (using bell peppers, cheese, and rice)
Chicken Stir Fry (using chicken breasts, rice, and chopped bell peppers)
Omelette Cups (using mushrooms, spinach, and eggs)
Post-Workout Breakfast Smoothies (using apples and spinach)
Mushroom Risotto (using mushrooms and rice)
Grilled Paninis (using deli meat, leftover spinach/mushrooms, cheese, and bread)
Using this method, I just created eight healthy, delicious meals that keep the excitement in meal prep throughout the week. By planning out your connections, you minimize the amount spent at the store and maximize the use of all your ingredients to prevent food waste!
Take a couple of hours on Sunday and you can knock out most, if not all of your meal prep (and dishes!) and save time throughout the week by just pulling out what you want to eat that day. The best part about this is that some items are going to become staples in your pantry or fridge (think mayo, grains, almond milk) so you only have to re-up on those occasionally.
And that's it! Shani's 4 big tips to minimize your grocery bill without sacrificing health, taste, or ease. Do you have any other strategies you can think of? Comment below and let me know how you get through your grocery runs without your wallet screaming!