Simply Saving Tricks – Grocery Planning & Shopping Your Pantry

Hey mama, does the year have you upside down and trying to tread water just for your sanity? If not, I need to know your secret. If so, then have no fear, you’re not alone and I’ve got a few small things you can do to help alleviate some of that stress regarding finances. 

This will be a multiple blog series that some of you have already seen the first blog regarding the meal plans!! (If you haven’t, go check out my previous blogs “What’s for Dinner?” and “Meal Plan Masters” and you’ll be all caught up.) 

Today, I’m going to discuss the importance of grocery list planning & shopping your pantry! When you have your meal plan written out, you will then go meal by meal and compare it to what you have in your pantry/fridge. For example, let’s say you have the following as a meal plan…

Monday – Spaghetti

Tuesday – Tacos

Wednesday – Grilled Chicken Salad

Thursday – Moms Pot Roast

Friday – Frozen Pizza

With the above mentioned meal plan, I would need the following items assuming I have nothing in my pantry/fridge. 
Mock Grocery List based on above mentioned meal plan

– Ground meat x2 *** this is x2meals aka spaghetti & tacos

– Spaghetti Noodles

– Spaghetti Sauce

– Garlic Bread

– Tortillas

– Taco Seasoning

– Shredded cheese

– Hot Sauce

– Shredded Lettuce / keep in mind toppings are based on your desires as a family

– Sour Cream 

– Chicken x1

– Chicken seasoning

– Salad lettuce

– Ranch Dressing

– Roast x1

– Brown Gravy Pkt

– Ranch Pkt

– Italian Pkt

– Celery

– Carrots

– Potatoes

– Frozen Pizza

Seems a little daunting for only 5 days worth of dinners, however, it shouldn’t be overwhelming you! Remember, you can add in leftovers days, more frozen pizza days, breakfast for dinner days etc. to help lower the overall amount and prep. 

Now, what I want you to do after you’ve made a grocery list off of your meal plan is to “shop your pantry/fridge.” What’s this mean? Exactly what I’m saying. Take YOUR grocery list that you just created and shop your pantry and fridge! Anything you have that can be used to make the meals you’ve just made the grocery list for should be removed from your grocery list because you’ve been able to obtain it at your own home. Here is an example of what I mean. 

The chicken salad is going to need ranch dressing. Now, do you always buy a brand new thing of ranch dressing every time you make salad? (If you do, then I need to know your secrets on how to not gain any weight or guilt haha) Really though, you can buy a bulk item of Ranch Dressing and (obviously checking the expiration date) have that “staple” item already in your pantry/fridge for multiple meals ahead of you. So you would remove the ranch dressing from your grocery list. 

You may have a few of the following questions… 
1. My family eats more than dinner!You’re right! They do! If we’re being honest, we’re all eating a lot more at home now then we have previously. Anyways, that’s okay! I have found that with the age group of my children (6-11 years old) I can get by with a few items that I always keep on hand for saving grace. This includes sandwich stuff, bagels and cream cheese, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, eggs, bacon and sausage. We tend to be very “fend for yourself” now that everyone is a bit older and we are juggling the virtual learning/hybrid learning as well as virtual therapy. This works for us. I just simply add all the items outside of dinner onto my grocery list after I’ve shopped my pantry/fridge. This will be items like cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries, special things like stuff for a dip or a cake that we may be making, etc. 

2. I have a coupon for Buy 2 get 1 free!First of all, KUDOS TO YOU FOR ALREADY BEING AHEAD OF THE GAME!!! (yes, I’m yelling because honey I had zero problems rolling up on 4 or 5 different grocery stores with my binder of coupons ready to do some extreme couponing to make ends meet in the beginning of my marriage.) Really though, coupons are only good if it meets the following criteria. 
A) You can afford the item even without the coupon. B) You know this is something that your family will have zero problems consuming before the expiration date. C) Make sure you check that expiration date! 
Having said that, I’ll give you a quick little hint. I see a LOT of coupons for the cinnamon rolls and biscuits that I like to have on hand for my kids, so I tend to purchase a bunch when I have coupons combined with sales because my kids will literally eat them any time of day or night haha. Also, I know we will have spaghetti at LEAST once a month and I also make a Pepperoni Lasagna Roll Up that requires a jar of spaghetti sauce so if there’s a coupon that is Buy 2 Get 1 Free for the pasta sauce I tend to use it as well because it doesn’t stay in my pantry long. 

3. Why am I making a list to just shop at home?Great question! I’ll be honest, I don’t make the list and prune it down after looking through my fridge and pantry. I make the grocery list as I’m pruning. So I’m walking around my kitchen going from pantry, fridge, spices, freezer, etc. meal by meal. I usually start with my meat because that’s going to be the biggest items or major factor. So I’ll total up each meal that needs ground meat, then each meal that needs chicken, then roast, etc. This helps me to not have an overflow of meat in my freezer and it reminds me that maybe I want to change a few meals around based on the overage of meat I have from last grocery trip. Both of these are wins! Trust me, make the list.

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