I admit that I don’t always know how much food costs. I’m just not one of those people who have spreadsheets in their heads, telling them where the cheapest place to buy bananas is or how much the cost of milk has risen in the past 5 years. And I’m not always up to date on what’s happening elsewhere in the world. I might not know of a cold snap in Florida until I get to my grocery store and see the sign that apologizes for the increase in price on citrus.
I do use the circulars to plan my meals, I do try to stick to in season produce, and I try to plan around ingredients I already have on hand, but sometimes I get to the store with a list and don’t know exactly how much I’m going to have to fork over before I go home. It makes it very hard to stick to a food budget.
Luckily, ShopRite’s website has tons of tools to help you plan your trip ahead of time and stick to your budget. I tried it out this weekend and here’s how it went.
First, I hopped online, used the map to locate my store, and clicked on the circular. As I browsed the circular, I used what was on sale to choose my meals. If I needed to buy an item that was on sale, I clicked it to add it to my online cart. My latest menu plan includes six meals with sides.
After perusing the circular, I used the search function to find and add other ingredients that were necessary but not on sale. To do this, just type in what you need. The more specific the better. For example, “organic ketchup” instead of just “ketchup.” If the search results are still too broad, you can use the drop down sort function to sort by price, brand or unit price. When “rice” gave me over 30 items, I sorted by price, figuring the ShopRite rice I wanted would be near the top. Not only was it the best price, but it was also on sale for a dollar! Score!
Pretty much the only item I was not able to find was postage stamps. It figures it’s also the only thing I forgot, since it wasn’t on my list!
After adding all my items to my online cart, I clicked “View Full Cart.” I adjusted quantities and sizes, removed an item I had second thoughts on, and took a look at my total. My total was $46.64, which I thought was a great deal for six meals plus odds and ends for a family of four. I transferred my cart to a list, printed it out, and headed out to ShopRite.
Once there, there was only one item I couldn’t find. One item was out of stock, so I chose a similarly priced option. I did add two items to my cart that I hadn’t planned on–four bottles of seltzer water and a card for my husband. Those two items added 5.39 to my total. My lettuce and meat also cost more than I had estimated online, because I couldn’t see the exact sizes available until I got to the store. I had planned on a two pound roast and came home with twice that and I also bought double the pork chops because they looked fantastic and I can freeze the other package for another time.
My total came to about 59 dollars, which even with the extras added in, is still a great deal for a family of four for a week.
In addition, the list I printed organized my items by area of the store, either the department (bakery, meat, etc) or by aisle number, and grouped all the similar items together. This saved me valuable time, because I went to aisle 10 and got all the items on my list from aisle 10, and moved on. Also, the list saved me money, because if an aisle wasn’t on my list, I didn’t go down it. The easiest way to avoid impulse purchases is to stay away from things you don’t need in the first place!
I was very happy with my experiment and I’ll definitely use the website to help me shop again!
Try it, then come back and leave me a comment!