This won't apply to everyone, but for those who live in small towns that don't have a lot of options for groceries, this is essential to keeping on a budget when living on one income.
When Mark and I lived in the city, I could go and buy groceries for a few days at a time and it wasn't a huge deal. I didn't waste a bunch of gas money to drive the one, or two, miles that it took to get to the store. Everything was within reach and mileage/gas wasn't an issue.
Now that we live 30 minutes from the nearest supermarket, it is a different story.
I now have to meal plan and make multiple stops when we go to the city to grocery shop.
I usually do two week meal plans, simply because produce doesn't last very long.
I have don't monthly meal planning and shopping, but the latter part of the month ends up being quite carby
and is void of fresh produce since the produce needed to get used, or it would go bad.
When grocery shopping, I try my best to make whatever stops I need to make.
If we need diapers or the kids need shoes... I plan to do that when I make my grocery stop.
I have also noticed, the less I travel to the city to shop, the less I spend.
No matter how disciplined I try to be when at places like Target,
it never fails... I end up coming home with something not on my list.
It might be just a few dollar items, but it still adds up.
So, the less I go into town, the less I spend on random goodies.
Another tip when making shopping trips... take snacks and drinks!
I used to not take snacks and drinks and make it a "special treat" to get Chick-fil-A or Starbucks' bread and eat it while shopping. But I noticed that I was spending at least $20 extra a month (probably more, actually) just to "treat" my kids when getting groceries. Six months ago, I started taking snacks and sippie cups and it has really helped with the budget. Some ideas are little boxes of raisins, grapes, stick pretzels, dried cranberries, etc. My kids love all of those snacks, and the little boxes of raisins are great because it takes a little work to get the raisins out, so they last a little bit longer.
This is how I plan my grocery trips.
I have noticed my weaknesses- the more trips I make to the city, the more I shop- and have worked to try and eliminate them. This really helps up to cut back on small expenditures.
How do you handle shopping trips?