Have you ever made a plan about what to do before grocery shopping? This really is a crucial step in the complete meal planning, grocery shopping process.
It’s something we have to do all … the … time — Grocery Shopping. Many times, we just head to the store because we need to get milk for breakfast or bread for the kids’ lunches. Maybe you’re thinking you can’t figure out what to make for dinner tonight and you head to the store looking for a little inspiration.
The problem is … if you don’t have a plan, you’re going to wander the aisles grabbing stuff, then you get home and have to do the same thing tomorrow to grab something to go with the random things you picked up today. Or, you discover that now you have 3 bottles of ketchup, too much spaghetti sauce, and no noodles to make a complete dinner.
Can you relate?
Are you going to the grocery store repeatedly during the week?
There is an easier way, I promise.
Meal Planning is important for anyone who is trying to save trips to the store, or trying to save time figuring out what to make for dinner. I even explain the whole process in Make A Frugal Meal Plan In 7 Steps.
Sometimes though, you just don’t have time to meal plan or you don’t want to (yeah, I feel that way too).
Believe me, I totally feel you.
So, I’ve come up with some things to do before you go to the grocery store, on those days (or weeks) you don’t have a meal plan in place. Here are 6 things to do before you head out to the grocery store.
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Things To Do Before Grocery Shopping
1. Look In Your Cupboards
Make an assessment of what is already in your pantry (cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer) and start thinking about what you can make to go along with what you already have. Have instant potatoes? You just need some meat and veg to go with it. If you’re like me, you have some freezer meals to plan around. We use MyFreezEasy to make 10 meals in an hour. You can read Why You Need A Freezer Meal Plan to see why we like it.
You get the idea here, start with what you already have in order to focus your grocery shopping. Use the FREE I Have, I Can Make, I Need worksheet to track your ideas and grocery list.
2. Ask Your Family About Their Favorite Meals
Using the list of what you Have, ask your family about what they want to eat. They are a great resource for figuring out what to make. Have pasta? Maybe they want macaroni and cheese or spaghetti. Have some refried beans? They could encourage you to make burritos for dinner. Using other people for inspiration is sometimes just what I need to help focus my grocery shopping.
3. Review Your Grocery Store Ads
Take a quick look at what is on sale at the grocery store this week. I mainly look at the front page for the best-priced items and the produce section to see what will go along with my I Have, I Can Make, I Need List. If you don’t have the ads, you can probably find them online.
4. Check Your Ibotta App
I always want to save a few more dollars, so I check my Ibotta app to look for any rebates that line up with what I want to make. I’m always pleasantly surprised to find rebates for things like eggs, tomatoes, cereal, snacks, and wine in the app.
Get a FREE $10 Welcome Bonus from my favorite grocery savings app, Ibotta. Just click this link and sign up for FREE.
5. Look Over Your Calendar
It’s important to check your calendar in order to figure out how busy your week will be. Do you have a school performance to go to on Thursday night? It might be a great night for sandwiches for dinner. Maybe there’s soccer practice two nights this week. You better plan on rotisserie chicken and salad. These nights will be much less hectic if you have dinner already set up … and it’ll keep you from stopping at Taco Bell.
6. Make Your Grocery List
Now that you know what meals to make this week it’s time to complete your grocery list. Make sure that you haven’t forgotten things like side dishes, breakfast and lunch items and those staples that are dwindling in your pantry.
This may sound like a lot to do when you just want to run to the store for tonight’s dinner, but believe me, taking 15 minutes to do this ahead of time will save you hours later. This simple little plan will keep you from running to the store 3 more times this week and that’s worth a lot. It will save you a ton of money, too, by keeping you out of the grocery store, where you’re likely to buy impulse items. Get printable meal planning and grocery shopping forms in the Weekly Meal Planner below.
So, here’s the quick list of things to do before going to the grocery store:
- Check Your Cupboards
- Ask Your Family For Inspiration
- Review Your Grocery Store Ads
- Check Your Ibotta App
- Look Over Your Calendar
- Make Your Grocery List
None of us have enough time these days, and every trick we can use to get a few more minutes is like gold.
Make sure and download the FREE I Have, I Can Make, I Need worksheet and print out a couple copies. You’re going to find yourself using this over and over.
Looking for some more dinner inspiration? Check out these other articles.
- Make A Frugal Meal Plan In 7 Steps
- Instant Pot Black Bean Soup – 5 Ingredients
- How to Make Quick and Easy Dinners On Crazy Days
Do you have other grocery store planning tips? Share in the comments below, we love it when you share your ideas.