Grocery Shopping: by the Week or by the Month?

There is a time and a place for weekly and monthly shopping.

When buying groceries do you buy by the week or in large quantities?  It appears that there may be a little controversy as to when to buy and what.  Today we’re going to talk about a few things to consider when deciding how you’re going to shopping for groceries.

What are you buying?

There’s some basic logic here.  I am one of those who likes fresh produce.  Well, maybe I like the idea of fresh produce.  The idea that I will eat 2 cucumbers, all the lettuce, a package of baby carrots, grapes, strawberries all in one week sounds like a good idea but, to be honest? There’s no way that I’m going to eat that in one week.  Fresh produce may not be the best item to purchase in bulk.

You know what might be? Toilet paper, paper towels, and other products with a longer shelf life.  Don’t limit it to just paper products.  There are a lot of different kinds of non-perishable or less-perishable foods out there too.  Canned tuna, pastas, sauces, peanut butter.  Laundry detergent, dish soap, and shampoo are also some things to think about.

These can be great items to stock up on, but that leads us to the next question…

How fast will you use it, and do you have room for it? 

Like the produce example above, if it is going to spoil or go bad, then it’s probably a good idea to buy a smaller amount.  Let’s say I could get a really good deal on 10 boxes of macaroni and cheese, 5 cans of tuna, 4 cases of water, a 4-pound box of dried pasta, and 8 jars of spaghetti sauce?  In addition to that, I could get to get a package of 128 slices of cheese, 2 gallons of milk, two 8 packs of frozen chicken breasts and a 5 pack of frozen pizzas.

In reality, there is no way I can go through all of that in one week; my family isn’t big enough to devour all of that food.   That means I’m going to have to have a good place to store it.  I don’t have a deep freezer, I’m lucky to fit an 8 pack of frozen burritos, a couple of ice cube trays, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in my freezer.  And, my “pantry” really only consists of five shelves, the top of my refrigerator (that’s where my cereal, sugar, and flour live), and a baker’s rack I picked up at a yard sale two years ago.  I don’t have any place to put that much extra food.

So, be sure to ask yourself the same question – this is a great deal, but if I have no place to put it and may have to throw or give something away, are you really saving money and getting a good deal?

Are you really saving money?

Consider the cost of the membership. How many times are you going to visit the store? If you go there once a month, have the space to store what you buy, and can afford to buy groceries by the month, then yeah, buying in bulk could really save you money.  But, if you think you’d visit once or twice a year around tax time, it might be best to grab a ride with a friend and shop with a guest pass.  And, if you shop week to week, be sure to take advantage of the smart shopping ideas in this blog written by Ana Maldonado, a mother of four and someone I consider an expert on this topic.

So, there you have it.  The low down on what questions to ask yourself when it’s time to buy your groceries.

Remember, if you would like assistance learning how to save more money, create a budget, or other smart financial habits – connect with one of Mary Rigg’s financial coaches at 317-639-6106.

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