The Sport of Grocery Shopping

Kenzi Creates....a sport out of grocery shopping!

Before I dive into this topic I have to start with a HUGE disclaimer--these tips are the IDEAL for me. I love when I stick to these tips and the results I see, but that doesn't always happen. More often than not, I'm still trying to stick to them! I think it's really easy to hear of someone's diet or workout regimen and assume they always stick to it, or almost always--but that is just not the case! But I do so much better when I even just attempt to hit these goals, than if I didn't have them at all! So here we go....


GROCERY SHOPPING ON A BUDGET: HOW I DO IT

1. YOUR GROCERY BUDGET SHOULD BE $100 PER PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY, PER MONTH.

There are 4 people in my family, which means I try to stick to spending $400 a month. I don't always hit this, but it's a good goal to shoot for, instead of setting no budget. Also, I heard this general rule of thumb for grocery shopping and just adopted it to my life. If you have certain dietary restrictions that are more expensive than you might have to tweak that $100 a bit. Also, I attempt to shoot for general household supplies in this $100/per person/per month rule. For example, I also include cleaning supplies and diapers in that monthly $400 grocery budget. If you don't want to include those types of items in your budget than I would suggest you stick firmly to that $100 per person rule--because often I think the food part is easy to keep within the budget, but then things like paper towels and laundry detergent can tend to send me over on my budget.


2. ONLY SHOP WITH CASH.

This is 100% a Dave Ramsey idea (I still have yet to read one of his books but it is high on my list of books I'm reading next). The times I have had the most success on sticking to my budget is when I only bring cash because there are no other options. If you only bring $100 for your weekly shopping trip, you simply cannot swipe that debit card if it's not in your wallet.

3. COME UP WITH A MEAL PLAN.

You should have at least a general idea of a meal plan. If you walk into the store without a plan you will most likely throw in ingredients you won't end up using and snacks you probably shouldn't it. I like to come up with a meal plan before hand, I look at recipes on Pinterest or in various cookbooks and then write down everything I need that isn't currently in my house. I also think about what produce our family would want that week and even try to budget for a few snacks (cranberries, peanut butter pretzels, fruit leather). I also like to write down what I am planning to make that week so I don't forget and end up wasting ingredients that I don't know why I'd purchased in the first place!
If meal planning isn't your thing, I've also heard of people loving food prepping. The idea is that you cook up a bunch of food, and then use that food to throw together whatever meal you feel like once it's meal time. So for example, that could look like having lettuce washed and cut, hard boiled eggs, chicken cooked, bacon cooked, quinoa cooked, etc. Then you could throw together a salad easily, or snack on eggs, or maybe you've got enough stuff prepared for tacos. That kind of idea. But even still, I would write a grocery list of foods you need that you would like to cook up, as opposed to just walking around and grabbing whatever.






4. ESTIMATE HOW MUCH YOU WILL SPEND ON EACH ITEM

I write out everything I will buy at the store, and then after every ingredient is written down, I go back and guesstimate how much something will cost. Then I tally it up and adjust my meal plan as needed. So if I was planning on spending $30 at Costco (that list is always shorter and easier for me to know almost exactly how much it will cost), then I have $70 left to spend at Winco. But if I tally up what I think I'll spend at Winco and it totals $86 then I know I have to go through my meal plan and see what non-essentials I put on there. For example, this week I had a few non essentials that could easily be taken off my list to cut the cost down, those were gum (the $10 packs from Costco), rice cake snacks, and lunch meat (we were only buying it to go in breakfast burritos and decided we'd enjoy just potatoes and eggs/cheese in our burritos). So that helped cut those $16 I was over on this week's grocery budget. Knowing about how much something costs will take you paying attention as you grab the item, and you will just slowly start to learn! For example, I always assumed the pack of four applesauce tubs I bought at Costco would be cheaper than anywhere else, because I was buying in bulk. And it was only $10 which didn't seem like too much. But then one day at Winco I passed there single tubs of applesauce and it was less than $2, meaning 4 tubs would cost me less than $8 at Winco, yet I was paying $10 for the exact same brand and amount at Costco. And I literally only noticed this about three months ago. So just pay attention as you shop and pay attention to the savings that come from buying the store brand and just compare the sizes and cost (use that part on the price tag where it tells you how much per ounce something costs to see the true cost of it to compare to the other sizes of that same item!) You'll slowly start to learn and remember and you'll be a lot closer to your guesstimate amount. I've gotten pretty good at doing this and it's fun because I've turned grocery shopping into a sport to see how close I can get to the actual cost of my receipts!




5. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON FOODS THAT WON'T BRING YOU ANY NUTRITIONAL VALUE. 

If you are trying really hard to stick to a budget I highly recommend taking a look at the foods you are buying. One week I went over on my grocery budget because I spent $15 on ice cream. I used to buy those huge $20 bags of candy from Sam's club all the time before I got serious about a budget. I ended up buying goldfish from the bulk bins at Winco this week and it ended up being $7. Seven dollars that would have been far better served being spent on strawberries--a snack my kids still love, but would have been way better for him than the absurd amount of goldfish my 3 year old has already eaten in two days. And the added bonus about focusing your money on foods that get you more nutritional bang for your buck is that you'll start to eat healthier! Because now I look at my budget and if there is only $10 left for a week I would much rather spend it on fruit to serve as a snack or a side dish for a couple of days, then having ice cream that won't do anything for my family's health. 


6. GROCERY SHOP ALONE!

Seriously, if at all possible, grocery shop by yourself! This will save you so much money if you don't have kids asking for snacks you didn't budget for, or even your spouse deciding while walking around that he wants a bunch of ingredients to make a meal you hadn't budgeted for. (I do always ask him while I am meal planning if there are any meals or snacks he wants that week--just so he gets some say in our diet but also it's at a convenient time for me when I can make it work with our budget). Or even sometimes the kids are so whiny and distracting that you can't take the time to pay attention to which strawberries look the best and which amount of eggs packaged together gives you the best price. It is just so much easier to not overspend when you are alone! I really love to turn this into an enjoyable time for me! I either go in the morning before my husband goes to work, or in the evening after the kids are asleep. But no matter what time, I always listen to one of my favorite podcasts while I drive to and from the stores. It's so enjoyable to have that peaceful quiet time! I especially love shopping early before my husband leaves to work because the store is so empty! Unfortunately Costco doesn't open early so I either bring my kids with me or wait until they're asleep and my husband is home from work. When I do bring my kids with me I ALWAYS have snacks for them in my bag. It's just so much easier to take my time shopping if they have food to snack on and keep them happy and occupied! 

Okay, so that was pretty much my thoughts on budgeting/grocery shopping/meal planning. Now onto a subject I am far less qualified in....eating healthy!!!


THE WAYS I AM MOST SUCCESSFUL IN EATING HEALTHY:


1. PREP AS MUCH HEALTHY FOOD AS POSSIBLE, WITHIN A DAY OR TWO OF BUYING IT.
For example, I wash and cut all the strawberries I buy, and I wash all blueberries and grapes I buy. Then I just keep them in a Tupperware for easy snacking, or adding as a side to a meal. When I don't do this we inevitably throw away gross looking fruit--which is such a bummer because we do love it, we just didn't have the energy to wash it when we wanted it. The idea here is to make eating healthy food as easy as grabbing that bag of chips. I also wash and cut lettuce to be ready to be thrown together as a salad. So think of the healthy foods you enjoy, and think of how to make them as ready to eat as possible!


2. FOCUS ON EATING HEALTHY FOOD THAT YOU ACTUALLY ENJOY.
True story, I used to try so hard to add avocados to my meals because avocados are good for you...but they make me feel so sick every time I try to eat them. So now I don't. While I do believe it takes a few tries to sometimes get used to the taste or texture of certain foods, if you feel sick or are having a hard time keeping it down...move on from that food! So now I try to find healthy recipes I do enjoy, and I just don't worry about the vegetables and fruits I don't like. Which brings me to....


HEALTHY FOOD IDEAS 
(Keep in mind that I am truly in love with sugar, and eating healthier is something I've been trying to work on--but these are all foods that I truly love, not just tolerate--and that's huge for me! So while this list might not seem all that healthy to you, or these might be the foods you hate--just work on your own list! And make a note of them in your phone so you can look back on them when you need ideas for what to cook that week!)

Fruit!
Greek yogurt (vanilla for me) with bananas, granola, and dark chocolate chips
Stuffed bell peppers
Veggie enchiladas
Omelets loaded with veggies I like
Fruit smoothies! (water, fresh banana, frozen strawberries and blueberries, and spinach is a really healthy one I like)
Scrambled eggs
Cafe rio copy cat salad (the dressing and tortilla strips make it less healthy, but I don't really care because it is getting me to eat so much lettuce!)
Parmesan roasted carrots
roasted vegetables
Gnocchi and veggies
Chicken burrito bowl topped with veggies
Basil pesto chick with cherry tomatoes and asparagus 



These are just some current favorites that come to mind easily and just ask if there is a recipe you'd like! 

As far as people with special dietary needs you have, Pinterest and dietary specific cookbooks will be your best friend!! But let me know if you have any questions about anything healthy food/meal planning/budget related that I didn't cover! I hope these ideas help to empower you in your food ventures! Also, just pick one idea to start with if this feels too overwhelming. Maybe your budget isn't a huge deal but your diet needs to be cleaned up, so work on that! Maybe you've got your diet pretty under control but you always over spend because you don't make a meal plan or shop with a grocery list--start there! Just keep trying, and I'm sure you'll be mastering the sport of grocery shopping in no time! 

xo, Kenzi

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