Sunday, March 25, 2012

Grocery Shopping 101

I am my mother's child when it comes to grocery shopping. Ever since I can remember, my mom has planned out a menu for the week and then made a grocery list for the week. The list is also made in order from one side of the store to the other, for more organized shopping:) This is the method we use in our house. We plan our menu and make our list accordingly. The goal is to shop once a week in hopes of cutting out unnecessary trips and purchases throughout the week.
Our grocery bill has been creeping higher and higher since we have been together. Having a baby certainly makes it go up. Lately, our grocery bill has been averaging $150-180. This isn't a number I'm proud of and I almost didn't share it, but I want to share the huge difference we have made in our grocery bill. The past several weeks, the total has been between $120-130! Today's final bill...$109! I want to share the changes we have made and hopefully save you some money too! *Our grocery bill includes diapers, wipes, toiletries, and household supplies

I'm going to give an example menu and grocery list from before we started eating healthier, and after. It will be long, but I think it's worth reading if a high grocery bill is something you struggle with, too!

"Before" Menu example for a week:

Shrimp and Grits
Homemade Pizza
Spicy Sausage Pasta
Turkey meatloaf and veggies for Hayes
food for lunch
snacks for week
*these meals are meant to serve as leftovers too.

"Before" Grocery List for a week:
grits . butter . whipping cream . green onions . bacon . shrimp . parmesan cheese . lasagna noodles . 2 lbs beef . 2 lbs sausage . 1 jar tomato sauce . 2 cans stewed tomatoes . 2 bags mozzarella cheese . pre-made pizza crust . roma tomatoes . pizza sauce . pepperoni . banana peppers . 1 bag Italian blend cheese . olives . 1 lb spicy sausage . 1 bag frozen tortellini . 1 jar alfredo sauce .  1 lb lean turkey . onions . 1 bell pepper . 2-3 bags frozen veggies . fresh fruit . yogurt . bread . turkey . cheese sticks . baby yogurt . 3-4 gerber baby pre-made meals . chips . salsa . cereal . whole milk

*I used to make Hayes separate meals because I didn't want him eating the unhealthy stuff we were eating. I would also buy several pre-made meals for him just in case I didn't get around to cooking something else for him.

* We were not usually buying organic veggies or fruits before.

"After" Menu for a week:
 (this is actually our menu for this week)

Grilled Salmon with Roasted Broccoli and Bulgar
Grilled Tuna Steaks with Roasted Broccoli and Bulgar
Cobb Salads
Grilled lean "bunless" burgers with roasted brussels sprouts and mushrooms
Grilled chicken with twice baked sweet potatoes.
lunch food and snacks for week

"After" grocery list:
Salmon . tuna steaks . broccoli . lettuce . tomatoes . green onions . eggs . tomato . feta cheese crumbles . lean beef burger patties . brussels sprouts . veggie broth . mushrooms . lean, organic chicken . sweet potatoes . spinach . reduced fat sour cream . organic mozzarella cheese . yogurt . strawberries . pears . apples . 2 cans tuna . bread . organic whole milk . rice cakes . organic peanut butter

*Because we are eating healthier, Hayes eats what we eat. No more separate meals! We have stopped eating turkey sandwiches and now eat tuna salad for lunches with olive oil mayo and celery.
*All veggies and fruits we buy are organic when possible now.

I have noticed several changes that I think are making the difference in our bill:

1. We are cooking with less pasta and more grains. Because of the way you buy grains, it isn't a purchase you have to make every week, unlike pasta. (ex. bulgar, quinoa)

2. Tuna salad is a much cheaper and healthier lunch option than deli meats. Celery and olive oil mayo are also purchases that aren't made every week.

3. We have significantly reduced the dairy products that we buy, mostly in the cheese and butter department. I used to buy at least 2-3 bags of shredded cheese a week and a box of butter every other week. Whipping cream and fat free half and half were also common on our list.

4. Our menu now focuses on lean proteins with veggies and occasionally a complex carb. Our snacks are either fruits or healthy snacks, such as rice cakes with organic peanut butter. When you look at our list, the bulk of it is vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins (fish, lean chicken, lean beef.) That means less "ingredients" to buy to make a meal.

5. I am comfortable feeding Hayes what we eat, so no more separate meals or Gerber pre-made meals. This is an expense that adds up fast! We can also share snacks more now.

6. Cutting out fatty meats like bacon, sausage, and shrimp has made a huge dent in our grocery bill.

7. I cook with olive oil instead of butter and I find that I don't have to buy olive oil as often as butter.

8. Portion control was difficult for us when we would have a rich dish like shrimp and grits or a pasta dish. It is much easier to eat appropriate amounts when you cook the meat you are eating for that meal and veggies. And if you want more veggies...that's better than a second helping of cheese grits;)

Final thoughts...
Buying organic is more expensive if you are comparing individual prices of products...but the overall result is cheaper if your menu is healthier! can't just switch to organic and expect your bill to be lower. A change in the meals you are preparing might also be necessary for you to see a difference in your bill...and your health!

I hope this helps someone who may also be frustrated with their grocery bill!


  1. Katie! This is the first blog post of yours that I've read. I find myself engrossed. I too get a bit stressed when it comes to grocery shopping, and I am only buying for one! I am interested in this Advocare buisness...worth it? I feel like it is quite an investment, but if it works I would be willing to try it. Great writing doll, I enjoyed reading!
    - Chico

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Yay! I'm so proud of you guys! You hit the nail on the head with the organic & dairy. People always question how our grocery bill OS so low when we eat 90% organic & totally dairy free. Thank you for putting into words what I've been unable to explain :)