Money Saving Challenge: Grocery Shopping Edit

Implementing small changes to make big savings.

Image Credit: Lauren Fleischmann

Are you a spender or a saver? For as far back as I can remember, I have have easily fallen into the spender category. Even when it comes to commodities other than money, my grasp is loose. I have memories of childhood Halloweens when my brother and I would euphorically collect the same amount of candy; mine lasted about three days, while my brother stretched his loot all of the way through Christmas.

It’s undeniable, I have been known to drop some heavy change. What’s worse is that my only defense for years was simply that I liked nice things. My high-end taste even earned me the title of “five-star girl” from my mother-in-law. In recent years, however, my perspective on spending, saving, and money in general has changed.

Image Credit: STIL 

The first catalyst was forced on me about four years ago: Mr. DoH started playing the Dave Ramsey podcast every single day. I found irritation in everything from Mr. Ramsey’s catch phrases to his lecture-mode monologues. However, the stories of struggle and triumph from his audience caught my attention. Sensing a moment of opportunity, my husband pushed to begin regular use of the Every Dollar budget program. Being the incredible and supportive wife I am, I rolled my eyes and obliged.

Image Credit: The Financial Diet

Sticking to a monthly budget not only changed our lives and our relationship with money but to my complete shock, I actually enjoyed the process of budgeting. We have made many mistakes with money in the time since discovering regular budgeting (including completely ignoring the budget) but I have found that just going back to the budgeting basics has always put us back on track.

Recently, I stumbled upon The Financial Diet and reading their articles about smart spending helped me see that it is time to change my money habits once again. I have grown complacent with my embarrassingly high grocery budget, tricking myself into thinking that if I’m sticking to the budget there is nothing more I can do. Seeing as Mr. DoH and I are planning to buy our first home early next year, I know the importance of saving every bit we can.

Aside from housing costs, food-related purchases are our highest monthly expense. My will-power is a feeble thing in the face of grocery store goodies, so I figure this is the place of spending to focus on. I am challenging myself to implement five food purchase related habits this November to see how much I can save without any major lifestyle shifts.

Image Credit: Wesual Click 

1. Minimize specialty food item purchases.

This one is major. I like specialty treats and Mr. DoH has a habit of turning a specialty food or drink he likes into an everyday necessity. I plan to only buy a few of our absolute favorite specialty items per week and see where that gets us.

2. Meal plan with a focus on overlap of ingredients from meal to meal and seasonally abundant produce.

I get in a meal rut a few times per year and while I rarely go to the grocery store without a list, there are many times I food shop without taking the time to properly plan out our meals for the week. I hope that using seasonal produce and creating a mindful weekly menu will greatly reduce waste and save money.

Image Credit: Ehud Neuhaus

3. Go through the refrigerator and pantry before every grocery store trip.

I cannot tell you how often I buy ingredients I already have or forget to buy ingredients I need. Both mistakes are costly and a simple perusal of my kitchen stock will keep me abreast of what it is I really need and what I already have that needs to be used.

4. Check online/apps for coupons that align with my grocery list before every grocery store trip.

I love a coupon. It’s free money, honey. Taking the time to check if there are any useful coupons available each week will always save at least $5-10 on a grocery trip and a penny saved is a penny earned, girl.

Image Credit: Edgar Castrejon 

5. Midway through every week, go through the remaining produce to see what needs to be used up before it spoils.

This is something I am awful at remembering to do and then I feel even worse throwing out gross, old produce week after week. No more! I will be checking on my produce drawers regularly.

If you are one of those super-humans who already does these five things: girl, we all wish we could be you. For those of you who could do with a little spare change in your pocket, I encourage you to join me on this money saving endeavor!