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Every trip to the grocery store these days is an adventure.

Will you be able to find your son’s favorite breakfast food?

If you find it, how much will the price have gone up since the last time you bought it?

It’s nerve racking to think about your grocery budget.

But since we can’t control the amount of food the store has, or the prices they’re going to charge, let’s try not to dwell on that.

(Unless you like panic attacks, in which case…carry on??)

Instead, I prefer to focus on doing what I can do. Here are some of the tricks I’m using to get the most out of my groceries these days.

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Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Either I got that song stuck in your head…or I just aged myself.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that many of my favorite frugal meals have to be started the night before.

You can pay in money, or you can pay in time.

Luckily, a lot of them don’t take much extra time. It’s just that you have to think about it ahead.

Like dried beans. Super cheap, lots of options. But they have to soak overnight before you can cook them.

(Unless you’re a magician who gets that whole “quick soak” method to work. It’s literally never worked for me.)

Now, how much extra time does it take to soak beans? You grab a pot, pour in the beans (check for rocks, but I hardly ever find anything in mine), cover them with like 8 cups of water (depending), plop a lid on, and done.

That’s like 5 minutes worth of effort. But you do have to remember to do it at all, and that’s the schtick.

Same thing goes for thawing bigger pieces of meat (think roasts, hams, whole chickens). Sometimes you have to thaw those out for a couple of days in advance.

Or marinading cheaper cuts of meat.

Even if you aren’t ready to do full meal plans, you can definitely think tonight about what you can eat tomorrow.

Shop Multiple Stores

Strangest thing, but in my shopping around, I’ve noticed that some grocery items are completely gone at one store. But the next store has shelves full of that one thing.

Like juice boxes. (Not a necessity, obviously, but it’s an example.) Kroger has almost none in store, and hasn’t for weeks.

Meanwhile, Sam’s Club has plenty of them. So did my local Meijer.

I don’t understand the supply chain. All I know is that the more places I shop, the better my luck at finding what I need.

While I’m at these different stores, I remind myself that it’s good to shop for amazing deals…bad to keep throwing extra yummies in the cart.

Keep On Lookin’

Sometimes when you find bare shelves, there’s a second chance somewhere else in the store.

Stores often keep sale items in at least two places in the store.

So if the usual cereal shelves (for instance) are bare, check the end caps on either end of the aisles.

And not just the end of the cereal aisle, either. Sometimes you’ll find cereal at the end of the soda aisle.

Or, some stores have an extra aisle where they keep more of the items that are on sale for the week.

Heck, sometimes you’ll get lucky and find that someone changed their mind and dropped just the box of cereal you needed on a shelf in the chips aisle. (We all have our decisions to make, I guess.)

It’s like an Easter egg hunt! Only it’s not Easter. And you’re just searching for the food you wanted to feed your family that week.


Reverse Meal Planning

Our friend Belinda (and if you don’t know Belinda, you definitely need to join our Facebook group and meet her…what a wealth of ideas she is!) calls this reverse meal planning: You look around at the ingredients you have at home and make a meal plan based on that.

Such a smart idea, because it allows you to work with whatever deals you can find at the store.

Because right now, if you planned out a bunch of meals, your whole plan could be blown out of the water if the store doesn’t have any vital ingredients for a couple of meals.

I prefer this method of meal planning anyway. Sometimes I think I’m the queen of “good enough” cooking.

As in “this recipe calls for some fancy ingredient I can’t pronounce, but I bet if I substitute garlic and onions, that’ll be good enough.”

Going Back to Basics

In good times or bad, I’ve always blogged about helping you find ways to save money. Especially on things like groceries.

But the fact is that everyone strays from their best frugal practices from time to time.

So do a review and see if you’re still doing all the best tricks for saving the most on groceries.

You can sort back through some of my money saving blog posts. I’ll share some of my favorite links below.

OR you could learn my entire theory about shopping for frugal groceries in one easy course. It’s got videos that you can listen to while you’re driving or washing dishes.

And a workbook to help you map out the strategy that’s sure to save you the most money.

All of my bloggy friends would like to flog me for selling this course for only $15. But how can I ask you to spend a fortune on this course, knowing that we’re all facing crazy hikes in our grocery bills? Nah.

Click here to get started on Your Grocery Budget Overhaul.

Why I Don’t Do Pantry Challenges

The Cheapest Foods You Should Be Buying

Meal Planning For the Year

Why Eating Leftovers ISN’T Gross

The Grocery Challenge

I’d love to know how you’re adapting to challenges at the grocery store! Leave a comment and let us know.