Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why I Shop for Groceries More Than Once a Week

Dear mama friends,

I know that many of you have read the advice to shop just once a week or once a month for your groceries, in order to save time and money.

I don't do that.  It is not uncommon for me to buy groceries a few times a week, though not what I would call a "full run" each time.  Here's why:
  1. I have a huge family with eight of our ten children still living at home.  I can almost completely fill a shopping cart, our refrigerator, and our cupboards with food for only a few days.  I personally don't like dealing with more groceries than that at one time anyway. And it's amazing how fast it disappears once its in the house -- or even on the way home!  For example, we go through a gallon of milk every day, I don't like to freeze it or use powdered, and our fridge only holds three gallons.
  2. I shop at several different stores depending on what I am buying.  I try to get most of our staple foods at Aldi, which is a discount grocery chain, but their selection is quite limited, and there is a lot that we need that they don't carry. I try to buy most of our bread at the local Entenmanns/Arnolds bakery outlet for about a dollar per bag.  (I think today I bought about 20 packages of wheat bread, bagels, french bread, sandwich things, English muffins, etc.) I buy most of our other groceries at Super Walmart.  I also stop in at Winn Dixie occasionally to see what they have for Buy One Get One Free, or Publix if I am picking up a prescription, or Sam's Club if I am getting photos.  I also buy snacks and toiletries at the Deals dollar store which is right next to Aldi.
  3. We live within a mile or two of most of the above mentioned stores, and the rest are on our regular routes to other places.  It doesn't take me any extra gas to pull into a parking lot, or even much gas at all to drive from home for a solo errand.
  4. Grocery shopping gives me a chance to get out of the house and clear my head for a little bit, or to take just one or two children along for Mom time.  Sometimes that is just what I need after being at home all day.
  5. It is not uncommon for us to run out of something that I need to make a certain meal.  It does help when I label things for their intended use, but in real life, this stuff just happens.  I find a child snacking on the "oyster" crackers I was saving to use for chili, or a container of sour cream turns out to be half empty when I thought it was full.  Sometimes I just switch out the menu until I can get the needed ingredient, and other times I will just go out and get it.  (Usually if, as in item #4, I want to get out of the house, or if I have already started making the recipe.)  
  6. My most common impulse purchases are snacks, but I usually buy cheap ones, and they help us to avoid extra trips out for fast food if we're out and about and get a little hungry.  If a $1 box of crackers can tide us over, we can save $10 that we might have spent at McDonald's.  (We still do hit the drive-throughs and order from the dollar menu once in a while if I only have two or three kids along around lunchtime.)
So how does this affect my food budget?  Am I blowing the bank going to the store that often?  Hardly!  I looked up the USDA average monthly food bill for January 2012, and our family doesn't even come near to spending as much as their "thrifty" level!  Do you want to know how?  Read: Saving Money on Groceries.

Should you shop more than once a week?  That depends on how much food you buy and how close you are to grocery stores.  What will work best for your family?

$8 for $46 worth of bread at bakery outlet in 2009
Read here: Bread, Building, and Other Eclectic Thoughts on Thrift & Creativity 

Virginia Knowles

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