How to Grocery Shop like a Money Saving Pro

how to grocery shop

How to Grocery Shop like a Money Saving Pro

Do you feel as though your grocery bill is starting to get out of control week after week?

Or maybe you have no idea how much you’re actually spending on groceries each week and you find yourself feeling really pinched by the end of the month?

In my opinion, the grocery bill is one of the easiest bills to manipulate. By simply taking the time to learn the money saving tactics that I have listed, you’ll be well on your way to lowering your grocery bill.

Read on to discover how to grocery shop like a money saving pro:

1. Learn the sneaky ways grocery stores get you to spend more.

Did you know that some of the “sales” you see from week to week are just sneaky tactics to get you to buy more?

From the sales, to the grocery cart size, to the layout of the store, grocery stores have learned the best ways to get their customers to spend more than they intended.

In this post, I’ve outlined in detail, several sneaky ways grocery stores get you to spend more.

2. You Need a Grocery Budget.

Having a grocery budget is crucial to lowering your grocery bill.

After all, if you don’t have a budget, you don’t know how much you’re spending or saving!

You need the guideline of a budget in order to help you improve your spending habits and to get you closer to your lifetime financial goals.

Here are some grocery budget worksheets that you can print off to help you create a grocery budget.

3. Meal Planning will save your sanity and budget

If you want to learn how to grocery shop like a money saving pro, meal planning is a must. Not only will it help you lower your grocery bill each week, you will regain so much sanity in your busy life.

By planning a weekly menu, you’ll be using what you already have on hand in your house, creating a specific grocery list and avoiding unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

Here is the step by step on how I like to plan our weekly menus.

I have also created an very useful Meal Planner that you can get for $7 here.

4. Start Building a Stockpile

Stockpiling, or the Buying Ahead Principle, or another way of terming it, “Buy lots when it’s on sale, so you never pay full price for the things you need”, is one of my favourite way to save grocery money in the long run.

Buying several of the same item when they’re on sale rather than buying one item not on sale, will save you heaps of money.

Here are some great tips on how to build a frugal pantry.

how to grocery shop

5. Don’t be Brand Dependent.

Another way to save money on your grocery bill is to use a variety of different brands. 

When I need a certain product (tomato sauce for example) I always look at all the brands available and choose the one with the best value by taking into account the price and size. 

I’ll admit though, sometimes brand does matter to our family. It’s Heinz ketchup or nothing at all!

6. Shop at More Than One Store.

By shopping at a couple of different stores, you have the potential to drastically reduce your grocery bill each week.

If you’re shopping at only one store, you’re most likely paying full price for many items that could very well be on sale at the store just down the road.

Say for example, you need some cheddar cheese. If you bought it from the one grocery store that you always shop at, you’re paying $7.99. But if you drove 2 minutes to Shoppers Drug Mart they have it on sale for $2.99. You just saved yourself $5.00 for two minutes of your time.

7. Look for Markdowns.

Grocery stores mark down items they want to sell quickly.

Sometimes the food is about to hit its best before date. One of the places I’ll always look for markdowns, is the meat department. Any markdowns are about to expire, but I know I can use it that night or freeze it for a later date!

Other times they are discontinuing a particular product and just want to move them to make room on the shelves for something else.

8. Buy in Season.

Buying fruits and vegetables in season, or when they’re at their prime and grown closer to home, can cut a big chunk off your grocery bill each week.

When you buy fruits and vegetables in season, you tend to get the best taste too!

Here’s a chart you can download that outlines in season produce that you can reference time and time again.

9. Use Those Coupons.

I’m a firm believer that coupons can save you quite a bit of money on your grocery bill each week.

I know many of you already use coupons so you know the benefits.

But perhaps others of you aren’t sure how to use coupons effectively, don’t see the benefit in using them or don’t know where to find them. Here’s a series I wrote about How to Coupon in Canada that should be beneficial!

One thing I’ve been implementing more these days, is using cash-back apps like Checkout 51, Eclipsa and Caddle. These work well for a busy life.

10. Price Match to Save Money and Time.

Try price matching to find a really effective way on how to grocery shop like a money saving pro!

Many stores in Canada offer a price match guarantee. They’ll match the advertised sale price of any competitive retailer as long as it is the exact same item and in the current sale period. 

They’ll even accept coupons on top! 🙂

If you’ve been wondering how to grocery shop like a money saving pro, I hope that this post gave you hope and a starting point! By implementing the tips provided, you should start to make headway with saving on your grocery bill.

There’s nothing more satisfying than saving money on something that you have to buy on a regular basis, especially when it can be a large percentage of your monthly income!

How to Put Menu Planning on Autopilot

Menu planning on autopilot. How to create a rotating menu plan.

You know planning a menu is a good thing, but sometimes it only feels like another chore to cross off the to-do list. Well, end that once and for all by creating a rotating menu plan! Put your menu plan on autopilot!

How to put menu planning on autopilot:

I have not been feeling the love for menu planning for quite some time now. That makes me sad because without a menu plan, our meal time is definitely not what it should be. I’ve been resorting to quick prep meals (think frozen pizza, pasta with a jar of sauce poured over top and grilled cheese & tomato soup…) Not good! Between picky palates and no desire to cook, menu planning took a real nosedive in the last year or so. On the other hand, the grocery stores were probably quite happy, because I was spending more since I had no plan. 🙂

That brings me to today. I’m pleased to say, I’ve found a system that works for me! Actually, I’ve put menu planning on autopilot! It initially took a little bit of work upfront (still only 4 steps!), but now we’re smooth sailing and enjoying meals we love.

Step 1: Brainstorm

This part took me the longest. I sat down one afternoon and wrote down all the meals we like to eat. Our family favourites. My goal was 60 meals, but I quickly realized that was a lofty goal. In the end, I came up with 40 meals. Enough for 8 weeks of eating when I allot 5 meals a week. I like to leave 2 days free for last minute events, trying out a new recipe and Sunday dinner at my parent’s house.

 

Here are the meals that made the rotation. Keep in mind that they must be simple, enjoyed by all family members and not require any weird ingredients:

menu planning on autopilot
  1. Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce Pork Chops
  2. Sausage and Potato Bake
  3. Waffles/Pancakes
  4. French Toast
  5. Chicken in basil sauce
  6. Balsamic Beef Roast
  7. Pesto pepperoni pizza
  8. Hashay
  9. Creamy chicken soup
  10. Spaghetti
  11. Meatballs
  12. Quiche
  13. Sweet & Sour chicken and rice
  14. Sloppy Joe calzones
  15. Peanut chicken pasta
  16. Pesto pasta
  17. Fettucine Alfredo
  18. Balsamic almond chicken
  19. Chicken Cacciatore
  20. Baked Beans
  21. Sesame chicken
  22. Pizza
  23. Perogies & Sausage
  24. Lasagna
  25. Melt in Your Mouth Chicken
  26. Hamburgers & pasta salad
  27. Sticky garlic chicken & broccoli
  28. Chicken pesto stuffed shells
  29. Maple pineapple ham
  30. Chicken satay with peanut noodles/rice
  31. Ramen Vegetable stirfry
  32. Soy sauce pork tenderloin
  33. Greek Chicken
  34. Shredded beef sandwiches
  35. Tacos
  36. The Best Fried Rice
  37. Hamburger soup
  38. One pot pasta
  39. Chicken Fajitas
  40. Black Bean and Salsa Burritos

Most of these meals can be made with pantry staples, which are easy to stock up on when they’re on sale.

Step 2: Write all recipes on index cards

Now, once I picked all 40 meals, I wrote each meal down on an index card. Sometimes I wrote the entire recipe (if it was not found online or in a cookbook). Other times I wrote the name of the meal and where the recipe could be found (Pinterest, page 3 in a cookbook…etc.) I also wrote down side suggestions and any adjustments I like to make to the recipe.

Step 3: Place them all in a recipe box/binder

Next, I placed all of the index cards in an empty recipe box that I had, in no particular order. You could place the index cards in a binder with protective sheets instead, but I liked the idea of a recipe box.

Step 4: Pull out a week’s worth of meals and place in front

Here’s where the autopilot comes into play. Since I’m only choosing 5 meals a week, I pulled out 5 random index cards and placed them in the front of the box. I put a divider card behind the five recipes so I know when I’m done for the week. Once all 5 meals are made, I rotate those index cards to the very back of the recipe box.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 over and over!

On Sunday, when I pull out the 5 meals for the week, I also create my grocery list. I write down everything I don’t already have in the pantry/fridge/freezer.

Now, you could take this a step further and look at your store flyers first to determine which index cards you should pull out for the week according to what’s on sale. For example, I may not want to make the Balsamic Beef Roast this week because I don’t have one in the freezer and I don’t see a sale at any of my local stores. However, pork chops are on sale so I’ll make the slow cooker BBQ Sauce pork chops instead.

Does that all make sense?  This system has been life changing for me! I hope it might work for you as well if you’ve been struggling with menu planning.

Have you found a menu planning system that works for you?

Easy Homemade Flour Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Making your own Homemade Flour Tortillas at home is easy and really inexpensive. Perfect for making quesadillas or Tacos at home.

Jump to Recipe

Homemade Flour Tortillas

We go through quite a few tortillas in our home. Between quesadillas, burritos, tacos, cream cheese & meat rollups and even pizzas, it feels like I’m always buying a pack of tortilla shells. That can really add up when a package costs $3 or more!

I knew it was possible to make homemade flour tortillas so I thought I’d try. Let me tell you, they are so easy to make and delicious! (Especially when you eat them when they’re still fresh and warm.)

Making homemade flour tortillas at home is really inexpensive and you most likely have everything in your pantry already. Flour, oil, baking powder and some salt. It will take a bit of time to cook your tortillas but it is still easy. If you think you will be making homemade flour tortillas regularly, you may want to consider purchasing a tortilla press to make the process easier.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Warm Water
Homemade Flour Tortillas

DIRECTIONS

Step 1:
Using a stand mixer, whisk dry ingredients until combined.
Add water and oil and mix, scraping down the sides as needed until ball forms.
Mix for two more minutes until dough is smooth.

Step 2:
Turn out onto floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces and roll each into a ball.
Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Preheat skillet over medium heat.

Step 3:
Roll out each ball into a 6″ circle.

Step 4:
Cook each tortilla on first side for about a minute, until brown spots form, then flip and cook other side for about 20 seconds. (Or use a tortilla press.)

Stack cooked tortillas and wrap in a clean towel to cool.

If not being used immediately, store in a zip lock bag.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

These homemade tortillas were so easy and so much better than store bought. I’ll be making these on a regular basis over here. They’re perfect for snacks and for meals. What do you use tortillas for in your house?

5 from 1 vote
homemade flour tortillas
Homemade Flour Tortillas
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Warm Water
Instructions
  1. Using a stand mixer, whisk dry ingredients until combined.
  2. Add water and oil and mix, scraping down the sides as needed until ball forms.
  3. Mix for two more minutes until dough is smooth.
  4. Turn out onto floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces and roll each into a ball.
  5. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat frying pan over medium heat.
  7. Roll out each ball into a 6″ circle.
  8. Cook each tortilla on first side for about a minute, until brown spots form, then flip and cook other side for about 20 seconds.
  9. Stack cooked tortillas and wrap in a clean towel to cool.
  10. If not being used immediately, store in a zip lock bag.

How to Menu Plan for the Week

how to menu plan for a week

How to Menu Plan for the Week

Menu planning is something I highly recommend. Not only does it save money, lessens the unnecessary stops to the grocery store, but it also makes our life much easier!

Today, I’d love to share with you how to menu plan for the week.

I’m going to give you a system that will ensure you are saving money AND eating well.

While there are various ways to menu plan, what I’m showing you today, has been my tried and true system for the last 15 years.

Regardless of how you may tweak my system to work for your family, the bottom line is, you have to have a plan. Whether rigid or loose, a plan will save you hours of time and hundreds of dollars each year!

Here are the steps on how to menu plan for the week:

Step 1: Take Inventory

Scour the cupboards, the fridge, and the freezer for food items you already have. Use the items that you find as a starting point for your menu. Make a list of meal possibilities from what you find.

Maybe you have some pork chops that you picked up on sale, and you have some vegetables from last weeks shopping trip, and perhaps you always have rice on hand. Right there you could have a meal of BBQ pork chops, rice and vegetables!

By using what you already have, you will instantly start seeing savings on your weekly grocery bill!

As you are going through your pantry, fridge and freezer, mark down any staple items you need to buy more of. If you find you are low on milk, eggs or flour, for example, add these to your grocery list.

I like to jot down all my ideas on a small piece of paper titled ‘menu’ and on the other side I title it ‘grocery list’ to put down everything I need to buy. (I like to have my menu with me when I shop because sometimes I’ll forget why I’m buying something or it helps me remember to buy an item that I may have forgotten to write on my grocery list.)

How to menu plan for the week

Step 2: Look through the sale flyers

Quickly look through your flyers to see what deals your local stores have. Jot down on your shopping list, the things that are a great deal and you know your family will eat or use.

If you coupon, now is the time to pull out your coupons to see which coupons will make the sales a great deal. For example, maybe this week No Frills has toilet paper on sale and you also have a coupon. This makes it a no brainer purchase!

I do most of my shopping at Real Canadian Superstore as I find they usually have the best overall prices. Occasionally, I’ll pop over to a different grocery store if I see they have great deals on some things we will use. I don’t like to shop at a lot of stores each week because I find that I will end up spending more than I intended. 😉

When I find a great deal on something we use regularly, I’ll stock up as much as I can. This saves tons of money.

I try to build up a small stockpile of ingredients to work with when planning our meals so that some weeks I only have to buy the basics like milk and fresh vegetables!

Step 3: Finish planning your menu

Once you have taken inventory at home and determined which sales you want to take advantage of, write out your menu with your findings.

At this time in my life I do not plan our breakfasts and lunches.

I only plan for five dinners including side dishes, leaving one night open for leftovers and another for dinner out or a quick bowl of soup.

I also don’t give each meal a specific night to be made since I like to cook for what I’m in the mood for that particular day. I try to have at least one chicken dish, a beef dish, and a pasta dish.

For breakfast, I like to have fruit, cereals, eggs, bread and the ingredients for basic pancakes or French toast on hand. I’ll occasionally buy bacon but that’s usually only if it’s in a dinner recipe I’m using.

Lunches are almost always dinner leftovers from the night before. We rarely let food go to waste!

When you’re first starting out with menu planning, you may want to plan all three daily meals, as you don’t want to forget anything at the store. The less trips to the grocery store, the more money and time you’ll save!

Step 4: Make a final grocery list.

Now is the time when I go over my list to see if I’ve forgotten any pantry staples, milk or items needed for a recipe. I’ll also put all the items into categories according to the store layout. Produce, meats, dairy, canned goods, personal supplies…etc.

Make a list and check it twice!

Step 5: Go shopping!

I recommend going at a time of day when the store is not very crowded and you can take a time to compare prices or mark-downs. I try my best to get to the grocery store before 10:00am on Monday mornings. This is what works for me and I also find the shelves are well stocked on a Monday.

I’ve found that when the store is busy I’m more likely to hurry, therefore, I spend more money or forget something I’ve written down on my list.

You may also want to have a grocery budget and bring cash only. Using cash only forces you to stay within your chosen budget. We tend to get a lot of the same stuff each week so I know that I usually spend $125 each week, give or take.

 

Other useful menu planning tips:

  • I like to create simple meals that do not call for a lot of ingredients as this saves on time as well as cash since I’ll most likely always have those ingredients on hand. (soy sauce, spices, etc…)
  • As you are preparing a meal, you may want to double it to put one in the freezer. It’s always nice to have meals in the freezer you can pull out when you don’t feel like cooking! I do this all the time with Spaghetti sauce and taco meat.

There you have it! That is how to menu plan for the week.

Do you menu plan? If so, what kind of menu planning system works for you (monthly meal plans, weekly plans, loose plans, etc.)?

Meal Prep Supplies to Make Summer Meals Easier

meal prep supplies

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Meal Prep Supplies to Make Summer Meals Easier

Summer is nearly here! Warm weather, plenty of outside time, picnics, swimming, spur of the moment activities… so much fun and delight!

Maybe you’re like me though, and stress a little bit about meal time. Cooking is not my favourite thing, I’d much rather get takeout. However, that is not budget friendly and it gets old, fast.

With longer days and busier schedules, I have found that adding a little organization and preparation can be the key to enjoying delicious meals without sacrificing the budget or precious moments in the sun.

Fortunately, there are plenty of meal prep supplies designed to make summer meal time a breeze. From versatile containers to handy gadgets, these essential tools that I personally own and love, ensure that you can effortlessly whip up nutritious meals while maximizing your time spent enjoying the joys of summer.

Meal Prep Supplies I Love

Printable meal planner

The Meal Planner

The number one thing that helps me the most with meal time, is having a plan. Not a set in stone plan, but at least a list of meal ideas for the week. Knowing this, I created The Meal Planner. It’s a set of printable sheets that enable me to write down meal ideas, grocery lists and my family’s favourite meals. I’m even able to take inventory of what I already have so I’m not wasting grocery budget on things I don’t need. I encourage you to check it out and save some sanity by having a simple plan in place.

Vegetable Chopper

I’m actually quite a minimalist in the kitchen department. I don’t generally like to have a lot of gadgets because I’ve learned that I typically use them a few times and then never again. But! Having a vegetable chopper, is something I recommend! I debated for the longest time on this, but I’m so glad I bought it. I use it the most for chopping potatoes, shredding cheese and dicing vegetables for Greek salad.

Air Fryer

Now, it might be a little bit of a stretch to call an air fryer a meal prep tool, but it is so handy for whipping up fast meals like chicken nuggets and fries! I have used our air fryer for cooking up some chicken to chop up for easy meals though. On busy nights, it has been a life saver! (I bought the one pictured from Costco.)

Produce Savers

Every time I use our produce saver container, I’m amazed at how fast the food inside gets eaten! The grapes, that used to sit in the fridge and get shrively, are now eaten in record time because I have taken them off the stem and washed them in our produce saver container. I bought our container from Superstore, but these produce saver containers look great too! I love ours for all berries most veggies.

Slow Cooker

Because we tend to have slower mornings in the summer, I like to prepare something for the slow cooker in those quieter moments of the day. That way, dinner is ready when we are! I like to do soups, BBQ sauce chicken for sandwiches or naan pizzas, deli roast beef dips and more.

Kitchen Tool Bottle

Alright, this is something I don’t actually own, but could see big benefits when it comes to meal prep. Especially, if you are someone who loves to make your own salad dressings, juice or egg salad sandwiches. What do you think of the Kitchen Tool Bottle?

Investing in or using the meal prep supplies you have, can change the way you approach mealtime during the sunny season. By taking advantage of versatile containers and convenient gadgets, you’ll find yourself spending less time in the kitchen and more time savoring the delightful moments that summer has to offer. So, grab my recommended supplies and get ready to make summer meals a delicious and stress-free experience.

7 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

Save money on groceries

Strategies to save money on groceries without using coupons:

I’m a coupon user. I’ve gotten many great deals thanks to my coupon use. But, there are many grocery shopping trips where I don’t use one single coupon and still manage to keep my grocery bill quite low! I also realize there are many people who don’t really care for the time that couponing requires.

Here is how I save money on groceries:

Meal Plan

I credit a big portion of my low grocery bill mostly to the 1/2 hour I spend each weekend planning our dinners. I choose meals based on what I have in the pantry/freezer already and sales the stores are running that particular week. You can take a look at my meal planning method here.

 

Make a Grocery List

I don’t leave the house without my list! Not only do I find it easier to buy only what I need, it also saves me an extra trip to the store for an ingredient I’ve forgotten.

Shop Only Once a WeekSave money on groceries without coupons

The less you shop, the less you spend. I find this to be so very true for me. I like to go grocery shopping on Mondays, (because that works for me) and only buy what will get us through the week.

If, on occasion, I go to the store a second time for something, I usually end up buying a few things that I don’t need which just boosts my total unnecessarily!

Prepare Easy, Inexpensive Meals

Simple is a favourite word of mine. Simple meals save time and hard earned dollars. Of course there are times when a fancier meal is required for special occasions, but generally I like to make one-dish meals (spaghetti) or prepare an easy meat dish served with vegetables and either rice or potatoes. I even like to go meatless once or twice a week!

Simple meals, simple ingredients. A great way to save money on groceries!

Plan Your Meals Around Store Sales

Is chicken on sale at your local store?  Then plan a few meals using chicken. Check all the flyers for the grocery stores in your city to see which store is offering  the best deals.  Shop at that store.

Buy Store Brand Ingredients

Okay, there are times when I can’t forgo the name brand because it just tastes way better.  But for times when it doesn’t matter, I always get the store brand.  There’s usually quite a substantial price difference!

Use a Grocery Pickup Service

This is one of the newest ways I like to save money on groceries! Not every week, but as often as I can, I like to do an online order through PC Express. This is a great way to avoid impulse buys altogether because I’m not actually going in the store!

I hope some of these tips will inspire and help you to save money on groceries! This is an area of your budget that you can easily change!

How do you save on the cost of groceries? Let us know in the comments below.