@aoshea I know exactly how you feel! I’m toward the end of having ravenous kids at home, but at the peak of it … yikes! You start to feel like you are always at the store, cooking something or writing the next grocery list.
My strategy was to start with the most expensive part of the meal, usually protein, and then see what was on sale that week. If it was pork chops, guess what, pork chops for dinner! I never bought full-price protein, except for eggs.
Then start building the rest of your meals from sale items if you can. Get the vegetables that are featured that week, etc. I often let my grocery store set the family meal menu with its sale flier. It saved me the effort of meal-planning and spared my family the endless “What should we have for dinner?” quiz. (No one ever had suggestions besides stuff that took 80 hours, like homemade lasagna on a weeknight )
To save your sanity, pick one store that is near you and has acceptable prices and decent sales. (Your time also is worth money, so going to multiple stores isn’t cost-effective no matter the sales offered.)
If there’s an employee-owned thrift brand near you (for me, it’s WinCo), check it out. These stores can cut a good 20%, 25% off grocery costs. Failing that, pick a chain that has easy electronic couponing. Safeway, for example, lets you add all of the week’s deals to your loyalty account with one click and applies any possible savings at checkout when you plug in your loyalty card number.
Finally, check out online ordering with free pickup at the store — or even paying for delivery. You can offset the delivery fee by avoiding impulse purchases the kids talk you into (or you talk yourself into), and it saves more of your valuable time.