How I Stick to My Grocery Budget

When my kids were young, going grocery shopping after my husband got home from work was cherished time.  It was when I could have uninterrupted thought and not feel rushed.  Nobody was waiting at Walmart to ask me to fix them a cheese sandwich or tattle tale on a big brother.  In fact, nobody wanted anything from me at all.  It was glorious.

But now my youngest is 14 and he’s been able to make his own cheese sandwiches for some time.  My kids aren’t as needy as they used to be, and I can actually get *me* time right in the comfort of my own home.  Which makes the weekly grocery run a little less desirable.

Still, I need to feed these people.


My Weekly Routine

To make things more expedient, I always have a list.  I keep a magnetized paper tablet on my fridge, and when I notice we’re running low on something I write it down.  (Inevitably my kids will ask, as I lug the grocery bags in the house, if I remembered to pick up something they needed.  That’s when the sting of not respecting the list becomes very real.)

Then, usually on Fridays, I’ll make a dinner menu for the week and add all of the ingredients I need to the list.  Because I’m not much of a risk taker, I make the same 8-10 dishes over and over again.  This makes getting through the store much easier, because I know exactly where everything is.  Sometimes I’ll even set my stopwatch to see how fast I can load up the cart and get through checkout.  It’s fun.  I’m pretty good, actually.

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There are two problems with this routine.  One, I hate going grocery shopping.  And two, I never know how much the bill will be at the end because I don’t want to go through the hassle of adding everything up.  It would slow my game down.

So one day my wiser self asked my foolish self, why don’t you just order your groceries online?  And the heavens opened.


The Game Changer

Shopping online has so many benefits!  Not having to go in the grocery store, knowing my final bill before I purchase, no impulse buying.  And did I mention not having to go in the grocery store?  It’s awesome!

Now I can set my grocery budget and easily make adjustments to the online cart if I go over.  I can also see all of my choices right in front of me, instead of traipsing up and down the aisle looking for the lowest cost per unit on laundry detergent.

I do my online shopping at my local Neighborhood Walmart, and I’ve found if I don’t get my order in before 11am then my pickup time will probably get pushed to the next day.  So, there’s a little thinking ahead that’s required.

Also, I have to meet a $30 minimum before I can place an order, so this won’t work if you want to make a late night run for ice cream and deodorant.

I could even get it delivered but I don’t want to pay the extra expense, especially since the store is 5 minutes from my house.

If you prefer to pick out your own produce, this puts a kink in things – but I still think it’s worth it to order everything else online.  Any time I can spend less time in the grocery store, I’m game.  Besides, the produce section is always at the front of a store, so at least you wouldn’t have to walk the mile to the back of the store like you do for that half gallon of milk.

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Keeping The Budget

My grocery budget is something I’m always adjusting, it just depends on what’s happening that week and what meals I’m planning.  But now it’s much easier to set a certain amount and make sure I don’t go over.  This helps *a lot* with the overall budget, because the grocery bill is something I have control over (unlike the electric bill).  You always know when things are a little tight around the Hamilton household because your plate will tell you.

I don’t like to mess with coupons and I don’t like to carry cash.  Sometimes I’ll run to a different store because they have a killer deal on meat.  But overall, I just keep my grocery shopping routine simple because it’s low on my priority list.  I would much rather spend my time reading or writing or hanging out with the fam.

Online grocery shopping saves me time, saves me energy, and keeps me within my budget.  For someone who would rather spend her “me” time doing other things, it’s been a game changer.


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