How Often Should You Grocery Shop?

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Obviously the answer is as often as you need to or want to.  It’s an individual decision based on your preferences and needs and there’s no right or wrong answer.  However, there are a few advantages and disadvantages to the different options.

Daily

Pros:

  • You won’t waste as much food because you’ll only be buying what you need.
  • You can buy what you’re craving.
  • You’ll have fewer bags to carry in and put away.
  • You can take advantage of sales and store specials more easily.

Cons:

  • You have to be disciplined so you don’t overspend.  The more times you go into a store, the more opportunities you have to spend.
  • You’ll probably spend more time shopping because it takes almost as long to pick up a few things as it does to pick up a week’s worth.
  • If you get busy and can’t go, you might not have enough food on hand.
Weekly

Pros:

  • You save time because you only go one time during the week.
  • You have everything you need to make a week’s worth of meals.
  • You save time because you’re only go once a week.

Cons:

  • You’ll have a big load of groceries to bring in and put away every week.
  • If you decide you’re craving chili but you don’t have the ingredients, you’ll have to do without or make a special trip.
  • Planning weekly is more work than going daily and buying what sounds good.
  • If you get paid twice a month or once a month, it might be harder to budget for weekly trips.
Bi-Monthly

Pros:

  • If you get paid twice a month, this method might work best for your budget.
  • You’ll save time since you’ll do a big trip only twice a month.
  • You’ll only have to mess with menu planning twice a month.

Cons:

  • You’ll have a LOT of groceries to bring in each time.
  • You’ll still have to go to the store in between big trips to pick up fruits and vegetables.
  • If something unexpected comes up, it may require an extra trip to the store.
  • It’s harder to take advantage of sales and specials.
  • You have to have lots of room to store two weeks worth of groceries.
  • You have to be a good planner.  Going twice a month will not work without planning.
  • Shopping for two weeks will probably take more time than shopping for just one.
Monthly

Pros:

  • If you get paid monthly, this method might work best for your budget.
  • You’ll save time since you’ll do a big trip only once a month.
  • You’ll only have to mess with menu planning once a month.

Cons:

  • You’ll have a LOT of groceries to bring in each time.
  • You’ll still have to go to the store in between big trips to pick up fruits and vegetables.
  • If something unexpected comes up, it may require an extra trip to the store.
  • It’s harder to take advantage of sales and specials.
  • You have to have lots of room to store a month’s worth of groceries.
  • You have to be a good planner.  Going monthly will not work without planning.
  • Shopping for a month will probably take more time than shopping for just one.
  • If you only shop at one store, it might not all fit in one cart.

My personal preference is weekly.  I’ve been shopping weekly since I first started grocery shopping 30+ years ago.  I’ve played around with twice a month and once a month but found both of those stressed me out.  I’m a good planner but planning for a whole month was too hard.  I never tried daily shopping.  I don’t like shopping at all so going daily sounded like a nightmare.  Plus I’m not the most disciplined shopper so I probably would have bankrupted us doing it daily.  My philosophy is to stay out of stores as much as possible because that’s the easiest way to stay on budget.

What do you think? What’s the best frequency for grocery shopping?

Comments

  1. Josh LaPorte says:

    I do a major shopping trip to one of the suburban supermarkets about once every 6 weeks. Buy staples: flour, sugar, salt, oats, pasta, canned goods, butter, oil, grits, cold cereals, stuff like that. I do quick runs to the local small grocery two or three times a week to buy a piece of meat or some fruits or some other needed items; this store is walking distance from my home. We grow a lot of veg in the summer in our garden, I try to get to farmers markets too. There is a green grocer which I try to hit up about once a week for a stock of vegetables (dandelion greens, swiss chard, collards, mustard greens, parsley, water cress, squash, eggplants, lemons, etc.). And I drive to a dairy farm every Sunday afternoon for milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, eggs.

    This process works really well for us. I don’t do menus or meal plans, I cook out of my cupboards based on what I’ve got on hand and what I’m in the mood for. I hate going to the supermarket and am very happy that I only need to go about 9 times a year!

  2. I think I’ve tried them all! My Mom was a bi-weekly shopper because she shopped on payday. That never fit me quite right, nor did it fit me and the Hub when we got married. Once a week felt right for us for a long time and then when he lost his job about 18 months ago, we sort of fell into the go every couple of days when we need something pattern. He does most of the shopping right now in our strange little role reversal world. I’d love to get back on a weekly system, though, when all three of us go together as a family and make it something special we do together. Huh. I didn’t realize how much I missed that until just this second.
    Lisa @ The Meaning of Me recently posted…Ten Things of Thankful – Way Better Week EditionMy Profile

  3. I also prefer once a week but haven’t quite worked out the best day since school started back again (yes, I’ve been trying to figure that out since August.). Seems like I’ve fallen into a bi-weekly shopping habit which is not the best for our budget.
    Jean recently posted…Trader Joe’s TimeMy Profile

    • I don’t do well with bi-weekly either. I tried that briefly – intentionally – thinking it would save us money and wouldn’t be as hard to plan and carry it in and put it away. It didn’t work. I hope you figure out a day soon.

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