As you’ve probably deduced from our He Says/She Says series, Johnny and I have disagreed a lot over the span of our almost six-year marriage. Grocery shopping is no exception. Before I got married, grocery shopping meant buying whatever caught my eye in each aisle… no lists, no meal planning. If the song playing over the store’s speakers made me think of summer, I bought ice cream. Johnny was on the other end of the spectrum. He bought cheaply to an unhealthy degree. Burritos and ramen were his go-to college meals. It made his kidneys cry a little — stone tears.
Neither of our grocery store ways were sustainable, so we established new habits as a married couple. A few of you have asked how we keep our food budget low and what kinds of meals we fix on a typical night. Well, ask and you shall receive. Here are our grocery shopping methods:
Where We Shop
I love coupons. But with working full time and taking care of Baby Girl, I don’t have time to incorporate couponing into our grocery shopping routine. Instead, I do most of my shopping at Walmart. And anytime I can buy generic without sacrificing the quality of the food (pasta, canned fruits and veggies, dairy, meat) I do so. Walmart isn’t winning any awards for its shopping ambience, but it’s still worth the savings to us. Every two weeks we also get a huge produce order from a co-op with our church and the state farmer’s market. That way we’re getting farm fresh produce and not having to scavenge through Walmart’s “fresh” stuff. We also do a Costco haul every couple months. From there we get the essentials: ground beef, frozen chicken breasts, etc. We also buy household necessities in bulk there, such as paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and shampoo.
Baby Girl’s first encounter with The People of Walmart
How We Shop
I prefer to do only a couple big grocery trips per month. It helps me to see the big picture with our budget, and I can plan out two weeks’ worth of meals, which takes a lot of stress off during the week. Many of the meals have overlapping ingredients, so I’m also able to buy in bulk and have supplies for longer. I make a list of every single item I plan to buy. From dinner ingredients to snacks to produce, it’s written on that list. Having an itemized list helps me stay focused and not overspend. Otherwise, I’m known to empty the candy aisle into my cart.
What We Eat
We keep our meals pretty simple in this house for a couple reasons: 1) I don’t have much time to cook (does anyone?), and 2) I don’t find any particular joy in cooking. Except when I have a couple girlfriends over and we can talk and cook. Then I could do it all night. Also, Johnny and I aren’t very picky or particular about our meals, and neither of us has food allergies. If something resembles food, we’ll eat it.
Our menu during the week goes a little like this: 4 simple dinners, 2 less simple dinners, and 1 dinner out. Nine times out of ten a dinner out means getting takeout and bringing it home. The meal is always less than $20, and we can have a fun date night at home with a movie. We go and sit down at a restaurant once a month at most. And since “simple” and “less simple” are vague explanations, here are a few examples of our typical homemade dinners:
Less Simple Dinners
Most of the simple dinners are pretty self explanatory. And these dinners call for basic ingredients, which tend to be cheaper. No fancy meals in this house except on special occasions. I linked to the ones that can be found on my Pinterest account (let’s follow each other!) if you’ve got a hankering to try them out. Also, most of those meals make enough for multiple dinners for us, which also helps to cut down on costs.
And that is how grocery shopping is done in the OFB household. This is what works for us but is by no means the only way to save on groceries. But it’s a heck of a lot better than eating ramen every night.
How do you save on groceries? Is your grocery shopping style similar to ours, or is it a whole other beast? Spill the beans.