Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saving the Moola: a new (to us) grocery shopping strategy

In America's Cheapest Family, Steve and Annette talk in depth about the fact that they make one big shopping trip each month for groceries, then make smaller trips near the end of the month to get produce items.

I've heard many money-savvy people discuss this way of grocery shopping, and I've just always thought it wasn't the right way for us. For one, it would take forever to create a grocery list for one month. Typically, we menu plan week by week. At the beginning of January, I began menu planning month by month for other reasons and was super pleased with this way of menu planning just because we had a plan for several weeks and I wouldn't have to look in all our cookbooks to see what new meals we wanted to make (now, I just work from a document on my computer with recipes we've been wanting to try: so simple and quick!).

Since I had a menu plan for months in advance, I thought more and more about one large grocery shopping trip followed by weekly trips for produce. Jason primarily shops for groceries, for various reasons (one being that he really loves it!). When I mentioned this idea to Jason months ago, he was very against it. And I could understand that. It just didn't make sense at that time. He was going to the store every week anyway, so why not just do weekly regular trips?

As the stores we normally frequent began to increase, we both began to see the benefit of one large trip followed by smaller weekly trips. At the start of February, we tested out this theory. I figured out all the ingredients we would need that were non-perishable or long-term perishable, then compiled a list of all the non-produce items we needed for a month and produce items for the first week. Jason shopped at Aldi, Walmart, Sara Lee and Meijer the first week. We only shop at Aldi and Walmart for non-perishable and long-term perishables, and we only buy produce at Meijer.

Since that first week, Jason has shopped at Meijer, but he has had to make one stop at Sara Lee (which is right by Meijer) and a couple trips to Walmart (which is in Fenton where we live). We still think grocery shopping like this has made a huge difference. Somehow, we're spending less than we were in a month's time before and Jason's grocery shopping trips are a lot quicker. The first large trip was about three hours long. It's hard to guesstimate how much time each weekly produce trip has taken, considering that he's been completing other errands during that time, like going to the post office, stopping by the library, getting a movie from a Redbox kiosk, etc.

One big shopping trip per month has really made the difference - in terms of time and money. This is one strategy we plan on continuing so long as it continues to benefit us.

Share with us: How do you grocery shop? Do you grocery shop weekly, bi-weekly or monthly?

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