Your plan, planning your menu and your shopping list at the same time has time and money saving benefits. You’ve determined the best place to shop. You’ve selected those sale items you will use to build your menu and your shopping list.
One fast an easy way to conquer menu and grocery list is to start with family favorites. If everyone loves spaghetti, what will you need to create it? List your ingredients. Remember prepared sauces cost more than DIY (Do It Yourself) but, if you don’t have hours to simmer your sauce and didn’t make it as you harvested your tomatoes during the summer to can or freeze, buy ready-made, but look for coupons to use for that purchase. If your store has a dollar isle as many do now, grab spaghetti pasta there. Continue down your list using your meal main course items and what you’ll serve with it. What you already have and what you will need, are there cheap or economical substitutes? For instance, cabbage can be substituted for sauerkraut in many recipes without losing flavor. Oleo verses butter? Think outside the container. Tomatoes you froze from last year can enhance and add body to soup rather than using canned soup that is loaded with salt. Substitute Wheaties cereal in meat loaf for salty crackers, adds fiber and nutrients and a delicious flavor.
If you can arrange your shopping list in the order in which you travel the store it will save you time and money. Remember browsing breaks budgets. If it’s a new store remember that they want you travel through aisles of impulse buys at eye level, go the outside route. The produce, dairy products and meats are always on the outside aisles. Next read the signs usually placed in the middle of the aisles above the shelves. Only visit those aisles that have something you need or want.
When you need fruits or vegetables, buy them in season if at all possible. Vegetables are becoming more universally available regardless of seasons with imports and growth technology. Fruits are still more dependent on seasons. Ask if you don’t know. Smaller grocery store owners are happy to tell you if something is a good seasonal bargain. Perhaps peaches from Colorado are in season now and a better buy than those shipped from distant shores. They can tell you that as well as what is in season at any given time.
Now, we have our store, our menu, our grocery list -coupons are our next step in our plan to live eating cheap and healthy.