Gluten-Free at Wegmans: My List & Shopping Plan ($130 Budget)
*This post is not sponsored by Wegmans*
*Disclaimer: This post goes into a silly amount of detail about grocery shopping. I included everything I could think of to help save you time and/or money (except extreme couponing because I am not cut out for that shopping intensity level). Please ignore this post if you are already a grocery shopping pro! If I forgot something, please add your own comment below. Remember, these are only guidelines meant for inspiration—by no means is this a rulebook! Make these tips your own.
I am not an expert grocery shopper—I am still learning myself—but I have learned how to maximize the value of shopping at Wegmans to save both time and money on my gluten-free groceries.
In researching these posts, I was able to (consistently) cut $20+ off my weekly grocery budget and at least 20 minutes off my actual shopping time. I am usually at the checkout lanes within 20-25 minutes of walking into the store. Not an easy feat when the store is so enormous it’s considered a “small, beautifully maintained, self-sustaining city.”
Last week’s post went through the general steps of making a grocery list and navigating a Wegmans store to save time and money. This week’s post provides an example of how I use these steps to plan and execute a weekly grocery shopping trip with a $130 budget.
Making the Grocery List
As I mentioned in the last post, I prefer to shop Friday mornings. I usually make my list Thursday afternoon/evening, but there are a few things I do throughout the week to make the list-making process more efficient:
- Keep a running list of needed items. We use a dry erase board (located on the wall across from our fridge). As we use up pantry basics (milk, spices, cooking oils, snacks, etc.), we note those items on the list so they are not forgotten when it’s official list-making time. As you can see, it does not need to be neat or organized!
- Store coupons in one place. Wegmans sends me coupons in the mail on a regular basis because I am a Shoppers Club member. I clip them and put them in a coupon box so I always know where to find them when I’m making my list. As I make my list, I gather relevant coupons and put them in my purse so I don’t forget them!
- Store recipes in one place. Whether it’s a physical recipe box or a Pinterest board, have a place where you keep recipes you love and/or want to try. I’m old-fashioned and prefer a physical copy of my recipes, so I keep a file box next to my desk with 3 recipe files: Great Recipes, Next Week’s Recipes/Recipes to Try, and Recipes That Need Adjustment. When it’s time to make my list, I select 3-5 recipes from my files (usually 2-3 favorites and 1-2 new/needs adjustment recipes). Most weeks I have pre-selected which recipes I want to make (and store them in the Next Week’s Recipes file) because I tend to pair new recipes with favorites that have like ingredients (same fresh herbs, protein, etc.) as I add them to my files. Over time, I have also started to pair favorite recipes with like ingredients together. For instance, I usually make Stuffed Peppers and Turkey Picadillo in the same week because I can brown 2 pounds of turkey at the same time to knock out prep for both. If you need recipe inspiration, Wegmans.com allows you to search their online recipe database of over 400 gluten-free, chef-developed recipes (and you can add all of the ingredients to your online list with one click).
When it’s time to make my list, I write down everything from our dry erase board, do a quick scan of our fridge/freezer/pantry to make sure I didn’t miss anything, and add special ingredients from the pre-selected recipes. I write down everything that’s needed, then do a quick double-check of our fridge/freezer/pantry to see what we already have so I don’t buy too much food. I usually check the sales flyer and my coupon stash to see if I should adjust anything on my list. This whole process takes about 10 minutes.
Then, I take my paper list into my office to convert it into an online list using the Wegmans shopping list tool. I prefer to use the desktop version, but the mobile App also has this shopping tool. The first time you make your list, it may require more time to input your items; however, it will save your favorite items for quickly adding to future lists. If you are a Shoppers Club member, you can also scan your receipts to quickly add items to your list that were previously purchased while using the card. NOTE: I did not use this tool before researching these posts, and I credit this tool as one of the reasons I have saved so much time and money each week on my gluten-free groceries. I was pleasantly surprised at how helpful it was for planning and shopping. For instance, this week’s Paella recipe called for Saffron, which I did not have in my pantry. I was quickly able to determine I had room in my budget this week to splurge on a new bottle. This process takes 5-10 minutes.
Shopping the Store
My list is automatically sorted by aisle, so I can easily map out my trip based on my store’s layout (see below). I spend the most time in the Produce Department (section 1), and this is often the department where I make the most on-the-fly adjustments to my list. I can quickly move through the aisles and pick up what I need using my list as my guide. I now know my store layout, but the map was very helpful when I first started shopping at this Wegmans store. NOTE: If you’ll notice, I shop throughout the store and not just in the GF Aisle (section 5)—there really are GF options all over the store!
It is not unusual for me to make adjustments to my list as I shop. My list includes price estimates, so I can make a quick calculation if something seems like a better deal and/or I spot an equivalent item for a similar price. FYI: the mobile App allows you to scan the barcode of an item in the store to check its nutrition information and/or automatically add that item to your list.
For instance, during this trip I purchased:
- Red potatoes instead of butter potatoes because I spotted them first and knew they would work well in my planned recipe.
- A Family Pack of avocados rather than individual ones because it was a better deal.
- 2 Family Packs of mixed bell peppers because the mixed peppers are cheaper than red peppers.
- Canned tomato puree instead of tomato sauce because I spotted it first and could finish my trip earlier than expected.
- Peeled baby carrots because they were out and I had carrots at home I could prep myself.
- Herbes de provence because it was out of stock and not needed for any recipes this week. I added it back to running list once I got home.
With these adjustments, I ended up spending less than I planned as you can see from this mock-up of what I actually bought:
Although I made some changes to it, my shopping list made all the difference in my ability to:
- stay on budget (or find ways to reduce it*),
- minimize food waste/overbuying,
- eliminate the need to make multiple trips to the store throughout the week, and
- move efficiently through my local Wegmans store.**
*By reducing my weekly budget by just $20, I can save more than $1000 a year.
**Likewise, 20 minutes less time shopping per week equals 17+ additional hours per year.
Remember: this is just one example of how to shop for gluten-free groceries. Your list and plan will almost certainly be quite different from mine. Every household has different needs, different budgets, and different meal planning styles. Please use this example as inspiration for finding small changes in your existing grocery shopping system that may help you save lots of time and/or money in the long-run.
This is the last post in the Wegmans series. Please contact me if you have an idea for a future series or if you have additional questions about this one. Thank you!
I was not compensated by Wegmans for my time researching and writing this post. I contacted Wegmans expressing interest in writing about their gluten-free resources because of my personal experience with the store. I was invited to tour my local store with Wegmans Nutritionist, Krystal Register, RDN, to discuss resources that are offered for gluten-free customers. All opinions expressed are my own.
There are currently 88 Wegmans stores in six states (Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). Find your nearest Wegmans.
Don’t have a Wegmans near you? Contact them about future expansion plans.