Groceries can be among a family’s largest expenses. Making a list is a simple way to save on your grocery bill and eat healthier at the same time. Planning a menu and making a list improves shopping efficiency, helps you avoid impulse items, and reduces the amount of food your family wastes. You don’t have to spend a lot of time clipping coupons and running all over town, just shop intentionally.

Meal Planning

Buy groceries once for the week with your schedule in mind. If you know you’ve got late meetings, gymnastics, basketball and piano lesions, plan meals accordingly. You’ll need things that are quick to put together, can be partially prepared in advance, and reheat well.  Think soup! 

On the other hand, if you know you’ll be spending a lot of time at, plan to have enough on hand that don’t run out to the nearest grease pit at the first hunger pang or whine for snacks. Popcorn is an inexpensive, healthy snack. If you like to have junk food on hand, larger bags cost less than the individually packaged ones.

Sale Shopping

Shop from your list, but stay open to the odd things that might go on sale. A bargain is wonderful, but be realistic. There’s nothing worse than getting ten pounds of produce on sale only to toss it at the end of the week after it’s turned into something from a Steven King novel. That’s not only bad for your finances, but wasteful too.

Discounted Meat

When buying meat, be frugal. If it’s only got one day left before they pull it off the shelf, it’ll be on sale. Buy it and put it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. If you can chat up the meat department manager (a real butcher if you’re lucky) you’re likely to find out the time of day markdowns happen. Then you can time your shopping strategically to get the best deals.

Store Brands

Store brands and generics are usually packed in the same places as the big names. They simply change out the labels. Also, look on the top and bottom shelves. Classic grocery marketing places the most expensive brands at eye level.

In Season Fruits and Vegetables

Bananas and berries can be purchased in bulk and frozen for healthy smoothies later. Overstocked vegetables can be simmered to perfection, creating a soup that’s not only delicious, but comforting and low in calories. Toss in some cooked beans and call it a meal.