I love eating healthy and exercising, I'm aware of how things can change after you've started a family. Costs go up, you have less time, you want to be a good influence for your spouse and children and they may eat differently than you. Here is a list of tips that save most of my frustration with grocery shopping for the whole family, and I hope you find them useful too.
Get Familiar With Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 Lists
You don't have to buy all organically or throw up your hands at the cost of them and start buying the opposite, processed and over-treated food. There is an in-between. The dirty dozen and clean 15 are lists compiled of produce that lets you know which are highest in chemicals, GMOs, and pesticides and which are not, allowing you to selectively decide which you buy conventionally or organic.
I make 3 lists, two that never really change and one that changes every week. The first is the fresh whole foods that I want to purchase every single week. These are my family's staples and they are: 3-5 kinds of fruit (what's on sale), lemon, cucumber, salad mixes, grape tomatoes, avocados, 2 onions, 2 additional vegetables, 2 choices of deli meat from the counter, 1lb ground turkey, Seeds The Day Organic bread, 1 bag of shredded cheese, 1 block of cheese, 12-24 eggs, non-dairy milk, protein cereal, and 2 tubs of yogurt. We go through all of this every week. The next list is things we want to be kept in the home, but don't eat through every single week like family-sized cans of tuna, peanut butter, crackers, tomato soup, etc. and the 3rd list is the one that I make weekly and it always changes. I try to plan 2 different family-sized meals, 2 snack items, and breakfast or dessert. All the ingredients needed for these go on the 3rd list with any other non-regular wanted items or household items. These lists keep me from over-buying, spending money on food that won't be eaten.
Find The Right Store
My family saved 75.00/week by switching to a store a little further away because the prices were that much better. It's worth the drive! Find a grocery store that carries everything you need and has the best prices. I don't recommend Walmart because their selection varies from one to the next with very little selection of whole foods, the good stuff. Target is okay. Their selection is good, but prices can be higher than desired. I recommend a grocery-specific store, that's near your home, but might not be the nearest. Shop different stores until you find the one, especially if you live in a large city.
Don't Bother Couponing Beforehand
In my opinion, couponing is time-consuming and often saving you money on only the worst foods for your family. Do hit up the coupon bin while you're at the store, stick to your list and sign up for their loyalty program or card.
Check Your Receipt
When I started doing this I realized I was losing almost $5 every time I grocery shopped because items were ringing incorrectly priced. Take your receipt to the service counter and get your money!
Buy By Season
You can spot seasonal fruits and vegetables at the store by the criteria that they are usually most abundant and very well priced, but also you can find out online. Buying in-season items insure they act as they should, like are ripe or will ripen in a reasonable time and keep. I've spent countless dollars on food that went bad quickly or never became ripe enough to eat and they were often expensive, to begin with. Seasonal fruits and vegetables will have the best nutritional value, just as nature intended!
Food Prep Same Day & Eat A Pizza
This sounds funny, maybe even counter-productive, but it's the most valuable of this entire list. Chances are you're already pretty hungry the day you go grocery shopping and that if you don't do your food prepping (cutting and washing vegetables, hard boiling eggs, making frozen juice, whatever you need to make your food ready to eat) the night you shop, you won't do it, you won't eat it, and you will have lost the money you spent on it. Don't expect yourself to prep your food AND make dinner the night you grocery shop. The easiest solution is to buy and eat a frozen pizza, frozen stir fry, lasagna or eat out. Even if you don't usually eat these types of foods and you consider them "cheat meals", the intention is to manage your stress and eat super healthy and on a budget the rest of your days. Goal accomplished!