I have been ordering my families weekly groceries ever since stores began offering a pick up option. Now having them delivered is a great option for when pick up isn’t ideal, like on the weekends, or when one of the kids is sick. As a busy family, it is essential to plan meals, grocery shopping in store is a huge pain. Before I started planning it this way, I would forget main meal ingredients regularly, and ended up at the grocery store multiple times a week. This caused lots of stress, and we regularly went way over budget. After all these years I have finally figured out a system that works, I no longer stress and I stay within budget.
Here are my best tips and tricks for keeping the fridge stocked, staying on budget, and doing it all from your phone or tablet.
Shop your pantry/Fridge first:
A quick glance will tell you what needs to be used up or what you have ordered too much of in the past. Then divide your ordering into four categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I make a list for each category, which makes it less likely that I will forget items. For example if I bought chicken breasts on special last week and froze them, I know that if the deals on meat this week aren’t great then chicken will be a protein of choice for dinner one night. I also have created a habit of stocking up on regularly used items when they go on a special. I shop at Publix at least once a month when they do a buy 1 get 1 free special. I always stock up on pasta, rice, frozen vegetables, granola bars and beans whenever they go on this sale.
How many days are you ordering for:
I order groceries for pickup twice a week. This allows me to plan in smaller batches. Planning 3 dinners is much more manageable than planning 7 or 14. Over the years I have tried shopping for longer periods, and it can work if I’ve recently done a batch of freezer cooking and I plan very carefully, but this kind of planning takes more time and I just don’t have more time to spare. It also means that if I forget something, we can generally make it a few days but probably not a week. The shorter time between orders means fresh produce is purchased every few days, it cuts down on food waste and allows for more variety in our diet. I plan my grocery pick up at a time I know I will be on my way home from errands or picking up kids from school.
Time to shop the deals:
Begin with the Flipp App, you put in your location, pick your favorite stores, and it allows you to view them all in one spot without going to all the individual websites. As a rule it’s best to order on the day the deals begin, they do sell out of items at the end of deals, but I almost never find that they have sold out of a fresh produce deal. Also, grocery store deals usually end mid-week, most of them on different days, so I get to shop more than one store for the best deals and freshest produce.
I like to use the circulars to decide which store has the best prices on what I need during that shop. For example, when my kids have eaten all the fruit in site, I select the store with the best price on fruit and order everything from that store. Since I’m ordering twice a week it provides me a second opportunity to stock up on specials from a circular at a different store later on in the week.
Choose an ordering service:
Pick up is free with our Instacart subscription, there is a small service fee and prices are slightly higher than in store. I have also loved using Shipt, their fees and prices are similar to Instacart. The two services have contracted with competing stores in my area, Instacart has ALDI with a pick up option so they have won my business. I have also done pick up’s from Target and Walmart in the past, neither of those stores are an option for me where I live, they are too far away and take away the convivence of the pick up option.
I know for my family that if I shop in store I always end up grabbing items that look appealing and tossing them in, which is definitely why I always go over budget when I shop in person. I prefer pick up, I have found that when the employees who work in the store shop my order, rather than the Instacart shoppers, there are fewer items left out or substituted.
I love online grocery services because I can add to the cart to my hearts desire and then go back and edit it down to fit within my budget. The Apps also allow you to shop deals first, add coupons and price compare while shopping, a huge money saver for me. Because if I was shopping in store I would never take the extra time to do these things, I did before I had children with me, now it’s not happening.
Plan Meals and Make the List:
The following is an example of a shopping list and menu for my family that covers 3 days. My pantry is pre-stocked with chicken breast, parmesan cheese, butter, pasta, Instant Pot brown rice (frozen), Spinach Walnut pesto (frozen) and whole wheat bread…plus staples like salt, pepper, and spices.
- Egg Sandwiches
- English Muffins
- Pancake Mix
- Antipasto Kale Salad
- Tuna Salad with Capers
- Home made Lunchables
- Canned Tuna
- Cheese Sticks
- Pasta with Kale & Sausage
- Roasted Chicken & Broccoli with Rice
- Sautéed Chicken and Peppers Pesto Pasta
- Bell Peppers
- Chicken Sausage
- Olive Oil
- Green Grapes
- Baby carrots
- Apple Squeeze Pouches
- Gold Fish
Order more than you think:
I always over order on snacks and fresh produce, always. Snacks can be added to lunch boxes or as an extra side for dinner or put on top of pancakes (raspberries not carrots 😉 Any fresh produce left over after the three days will be featured in a Stir-Fry, this is my go to recipe, or in a Frittata. Nothing will go to waste because next time I plan my menu, I will be shopping my pantry first 😉