One of the biggest parts of meal planning is doing the actual grocery shopping. You can plan all you want, but the real test is when you get to the store. Will you actually stick to your budget? Will you remember to bring coupons and your shopping list?
It’s good to make a mental checklist of things you need to do before you even leave the house. Here are 6 things you MUST do before every shopping trip, to ensure you save the most money possible and don’t forget anything important!
Decide where you’re shopping
What kind of stores are in your area? I’m lucky enough to have a ton of stores within a 10-minute drive: Meijer, Kroger, Target, Wal Mart, and Aldi. If there are some good deals at multiple stores, decide your plan of attack. Can you handle going to two different stores in one day? Or do you only have enough energy to visit one?
75% of my shopping is done at Aldi; whatever I can’t find there will usually be at Meijer or Kroger.
Check grocery ads
The first thing I do is check the ads of wherever I plan to go. I usually visit Aldi first, then Meijer or Kroger, sometimes Wal Mart, to get whatever else I need.
I don’t get the newspaper anymore, but the store ads are also online for convenience. For easier searching, go to Flipp.com or download the Flipp app to get every grocery ad in one place. You can add items to a shopping list, and do a search for specific sale items, like apples, to see which store has the cheapest price.
Check your pantry and freezer
I have a huge problem of forgetting to add things to my grocery list- like baby wipes, cheese, or other random items we run out of during the week. Get into the habit of adding those items to your list as soon as you’re out; and also do a quick run-through of your pantry and freezer to see what you’re out of or running low on.
Make a list
The list, the list, the list. I say this with every grocery post I write, but having a grocery list is SO important to sticking to your budget and making sure you get everything you need.
Write your list on paper (like my FREE Weekly Menu Plan sheet!) or use an app like Google Docs or Out of Milk, but make sure that list is there!
If you’re big into coupons, make sure you check your favorite coupon sites before you go out shopping! Before I go out, I’ll do a quick search for coupon match-ups for what I’m buying; and usually I’ll find at least one coupon that’ll save me a bit of money! Here are the sites I typically check:
And don’t forget to check your rebate apps like Ibotta! Even if you’re not buying a lot of name brand items, you can still get a little money back from the Any Items- like produce, milk, or eggs.
Some stores will give you a small discount- like 5 cents- for bringing your own bags. It’s just a small amount, but every bit helps! Bags are especially important at Aldi, because the cashiers don’t bag your groceries. You either need to bring your own bags, or buy some while you’re there.
Speaking of Aldi, don’t forget your quarter for your shopping cart! Try to keep one inside your car at all times as a backup.
I follow these tips every week before I go shopping; and although I’m not perfect, these tips set me up for success! What do you do before every shopping trip? Leave a comment below!