How I Approach Grocery Shopping

Hi, my name is Sarah Barry and I love to grocery shop.

Sure, sometimes it's a pain, but overall I really enjoy this necessary household task. Here's how I approach the process.....

And by no means am I an expert. By no means. I'm just sharing for the sake of sharing.

Typically, I like to buy enough groceries to last us for two whole weeks! Before I had {two} kids I could have never imagined going grocery shopping that infrequently. The thought of planning two weeks out reeeeaallllyy overwhelmed me. But once I did it a few times, I was hooked. I like being stocked up because I never know what will inhibit me from running to the store --- sleepless nights, moodiness, no room in my grocery cart b/c my kids are in it, etc.

I start by making a list and I write down a meal for each night FOR TWO WEEKS. For some nights, I write down -- LEFTOVERS -- because I usually plan on making enough food to have lots of leftovers. Once I have written out the meal plan, I make my grocery list. I write it all on the same sheet of paper {the meal plan and the list}. Occasionally, I get stuck and think there is no way I can think about meals two weeks out. And then I tell myself to just push through. My goal is to get something on that paper because hey, we have to eat. I've found that if the food is in the house it will get eaten.

 My mantra is THINK, PLAN {SHOP}, COOK.

I must note that the meal plan is not rigid whatsoever. It more or less serves to simply GET FOOD IN THE HOUSE that is conducive to meal making.

During the planning process I check up on sales {at Southern Savers dot com} and I try to plan my menus around them. I don't coupon. I tried once. It's not for me. Personally, I feel that couponing is boring and tedious work. And I choose not to do it. Occasionally Publix sends me good coupons and I try to use them. But you will never catch me in the check out with a file folder, buying 10 Glade scented candles for 50 cents a piece.

I mostly shop at Publix, one of the more expensive grocery stores in my area. The way I see it is I pay a little extra for the luxury of wider isles, customer service, shopping close to home, and assistance getting to the car. I have SO little time to get out of the house without children, and I do not want to spend that time in a store that irritates me. In my opinion, it's SO worth it. Can you put a price tag on sanity?! I think not.

As far as budgeting goes, I have a set amount that I budget for groceries, household goods, and toiletries. I group them together because of convenience. I know shampoo is cheaper at Wal-mart but not if it costs me $4 to drive there. I try to keep in mind that my TIME is so so so valuable and I don't want to use it driving all over town.

I've shared this before and it's worth sharing again, my cousin once said...

"If you can't get it at the Kroger {or in my case Publix}, you don't need it." - Bibba


Also in regards to budgeting, I fluff it up. As in, I assign extra money than is technically needed to the grocery-household goods-toiletry category, giving myself a little wiggle room. Most months, I have a little left over and I roll it over to the next month. This allows me to stock up on sale items and BUY ONE GET ONES.

The "fluff" also gives me the flexibility to buy and cook extra food to freeze or take a meal to a friend or have people over to cook out. For the longest I found that I was coming up short each month. In reality, I was under budgeting.

So after I've done all my thinking and planning, it's time to COOK! I don't cook every night. We eat LOTS of leftovers. Often I make double batches of food to freeze.

So that pretty much sums up the process. I'm still growing, changing, evolving, tweaking.

What are your thoughts on grocery shopping? Do you love it? Hate it?
Here's a few links I like about meal planning, grocery shopping, etc....

Family Finance: How to Save Money on Groceries
Creating a Food Calendar
MOVE Get Out the Way!! (funny)


  1. We have similar grocery store strategies. I like the idea of shopping for 2 weeks, although I do SO enjoy my weekly outings to Publix. Oh the little things that can bring so much joy to a mama!

    I dont think the good Lord wants me to shop at Walmart. It causes me to sin and use profanities and lose my mind. Publix is so worth the extra $10-15 dollars.

  2. SB -- You just astound me. You are wise - not only beyond your years - but beyond my years. I am so impressed with your planning and your system. You know who else would be proud of you - Big George. Planning and shopping were two of his joys!! I don't think he was as thrifty as you, but he liked to think he was.

  3. I shop at wal Mart bc there is a " neighborhood " wal Mart so close to our house. When I have to go to the big one, I go really early in the morning bc literally no one is there. Once I pay "coupon" prices at wal mart, I hate and VERY rarely pay albertons or Winn Dixie prices. I'm so cheap and can't bring myself to buy more pricy items there!

    I plan my meals one week at a time and make in bulk and freeze. When we have kids, I might need to plan for 2 weeks like you do, but that seems overwhelming right now! It's daunting! Glad you've found such a great system!

  4. It blows my mind that someone likes to grocery shop. I am SO TERRIBLE about meal planning. I think that's my problem. Then I get in the grocery store and am just clueless and lose my mind. We then end up with not a lot of meals and some wasted things bought. This post has inspired me to do better. Post idea for you (but it's really just me being selfish and wanting to pick your brain)....share with us one of your 2 week meal plans. :) Ok? Thanks.

  5. Sarah, you crack me up! I'm with you about shopping at Publix. I PAY happily just for help getting out to the car! Those employees ROCK!!! they've even unloaded my children and buckled them in their carseats! I LOVE Publix!!!

    Confession...I am a couponer. This week I spent $70 on $130 worth of groceries. I don't use a coupon unless I would've bought it anyway. And I try to be very organized with my coupons. I also try to pick a line without anyone behind me...and if someone gets behind me, I usually let them go ahead of me. And the few tImes I've held up the line...I CRINGE!!! and apologize to those behind me. II feel awful if I hold up the line-AWFUL...but for me and where we are and with three kids and going through FOUR gallons of milk a week...if I can save by couponing...I'm all over it. :)

    Happy shopping!

  6. SB! I have to say my favorite thing you said today was I shop at publix and I don't coupon! Oh my word! I love it! It's absolutely refreshing to hear someone tell the truth. Going to publix is a treat and such a fabulous shopping experience. And the extreme couponing is out of control. When you have 25 boxes of cereal that your family doesn't like but you only paid 25 cents for it...what do you have? An overcrowded pantry. I love it! I do coupon the things I need but stocking up on food we don't need? yeah ..no. Great blog. Im actually going to attempt the 2 week thing, I like the sound of it. Thanks for your honesty and thanks for sharing! Congrats on 2 yrs. Very Cool!

  7. SB, we do the same thing! Except I only plan for one week and hit Kroger once a week. I check the sales from the circular that comes out every Tuesday and plan our meals based on what's on sale. I take my coupons and match them to things on sale. I never buy toilet paper, cereal, diapers or laundry detergent without a coupon AND it being on sale. I'm not a crazy couponer....at least I don't think. I only clip the ones I would buy anyway. And when those things happen to go on sale and I have my coupon...well, BAM! I just kept a few bucks in my pocket. YOu are amazing and wise and I LOVE reading!!

  8. "you will never catch me in the check out with a file folder, buying 10 Glade scented candles for 50 cents a piece"

    Amen sister. I like BOGO deals. But I don't like coupons.

  9. p.s. do you have a post here on your food blog somewhere that lists favorite meals to freeze?
    I have never really utilized the convenience of freezing meals, and I don't know why. It seems like it would be great. Doesn't take much additional prep to double a recipe and freeze one of the batches.
    I'd love to know your favorite "freezer" recipes.

  10. I do every two weeks too. Can't have mychildren in wegmans more than that! And you simply must visit me if only to see the wonder that is wegmans.

  11. I shop weekly at the farmer's market because it's fun and close and local - so I meal plan by the week and it's just like you said, just making sure there's meal-like food in the house.
    Then I only need to get stuff like sugar and cans at the grocery store maybe once a month. I do love to grocery shop too! I do cut out coupons, but only for things I would have bought anyway. I get such a thrill from using a coupon on a store special - double sale!!

  12. Hi - just stumbled on your blog from who-knows-where. I am glad I am not the only nerd (can I say that?) who loves grocery shopping! I get a serious thrill from planning the exciting meals I will prepare that week and then my full pantry - ha. And I do a list just like your's, which I thought was sooooo original when I came up with it. Also glad to hear someone else doesn't coupon. I shop the Publix sales and clip a couple of coupons here and there, but I feel like I don't buy 75% of the stuff the coupons are for! Wal-Mart's Neighborhood Market gets my business occassionally, but I am all about staying within 3 miles of my house. 2 weeks at time though ... that blows my mind a little!

  13. I like this post so much, i LOOOVE grocery shopping and though I live alone, what happens to me is that I cant go 4 or 5 days without going to Trader Joes or WholeFoods (where I go for special occasions / really good seafood + seasoned meats). As happens with clothes and everything, when I get new stuff I dont want the old stuff anymore, even if its a great TJ's meal I was looking forward to, or taco ingredients (my fave), so i end up stocking my freezer and eating all the fresh new stuff (also because I dont want it to go bad). So when Im a little short of money I do the list strategy, planning out meals WITH what I have in my fridge (especially the meats + seafood, which are the most expensive) and just make a short list of what I need to complete these meals (try to limit this one to onions and some other veggies). This process really makes my creativity going, and I even find myself looking for new recipes online with what I already have, making me excited about my "old" food all over again! :D


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