How Often Should You Buy Groceries?
Grocery shopping is one of those tasks that everyone needs to do. But as with anything in life, there is some debate about how to do it best. And the frequency of grocery shopping is one of the debated topics. So, how often should you buy groceries?
Making more extensive shopping trips between two and three times per month is the most optimal way to buy groceries for most families. However, this frequency will differ significantly depending on individual transportation options, store availability, and work schedules.
Even with the inherent differences in people’s needs, there are some beneficial aspects to grocery shopping that remain constant.
It might not be possible to adhere to every single tip or trick when it comes to buying groceries, but making a few small changes where possible will increase your shopping efficiency!
8 Grocery Shopping Hacks That Will Save You Time and Money
I consider myself somewhat of a grocery shopping expert. I also have a consumer goods background, which allowed me to deal with grocery stores at a different level.
So I put together these 8 grocery shopping hacks to maximize your efficiency and help you save time and money!
1. Create Monthly Grocery Shopping Lists and Meal Plans
Above all, the most effective means for adhering to a two or three-times per month grocery shopping schedule is planning.
One method to help develop properly planned shopping trips is to use a calendar or your favorite scheduling app to make a dedicated monthly shopping list and tentative meal plan.
An often-overlooked aspect of this planning phase is to be realistic with yourself and your family’s needs.
Many families can’t create healthy dietary plans for every meal, so make sure to buy healthy and fresh foods whenever possible, purchase items that have a long shelf life, and fit your specific needs to supplement that.
2. Set Your Grocery Budget
Having a budget for groceries goes hand-in-hand with planning your grocery shopping trips.
Without knowing how much money you have available for groceries monthly, it is impossible to build a shopping list and meal plan in the first place.
Budgeting is a factor that you should attempt to work out ahead of time. You should recognize that your budget might change over time, even monthly or weekly.
The price of groceries is not static, and having an understanding that prices will fluctuate from time to time will save you unnecessary stress.
To take advantage of potential savings on your grocery bill, you need to understand how much you generally spend on these items in the first place.
There is no way to know if you are saving money without having a grounded understanding of how much you pay regularly.
Make sure to keep receipts and continuously update your budget and grocery list to always stay on top.
3. Find Out Discount Days at Grocery Stores
Most grocery stores offer discount days based on specific criteria. For example, student discount days are usually set up during the week.
It incentivizes students to purchase groceries on days that would otherwise be less busy for the store.
In this case, if you have a student ID card that is valid, it can be an excellent way to save a few dollars.
Even if you are not a student, some grocery stores offer incentives like “no tax” days where you can avoid paying the extra amount (depending on where you live), which can save you a significant amount of money.
If your grocery store offers these kinds of discount days, make sure to use them whenever possible to purchase your bulk items that last a long time.
4. Use Coupons for Only What You Need
Everyone has seen that customer who has a long list of coupons they bring up at the register, which inevitably slows down the line.
However, these coupons can save a surprising amount of money if you plan your purchases accordingly.
To save both time and money, it is essential to make your purchases based on what you need and then search for coupons or sales to benefit those planned purchases.
Attempting to take advantage of every single deal or coupon will likely result in unnecessary purchases, which in turn will cost more and defeat the purpose of the discounts in the first place.
5. Differentiate Store Benefits
When discussing grocery shopping frequency, it is critical to look at how different stores can benefit shoppers differently.
Your local farmer’s market may offer fantastic produce and dairy products, but the big box store around the corner will likely be the better choice for buying bulk goods.
Going to multiple stores during one day of shopping may seem like a huge hurdle.
However, adequately planning your purchases and always buying fresh and frozen goods last will ensure that you save money and time in the long run by purchasing them from the stores that offer the best incentives.
6. Learn Your Store’s Restocking Schedule
There are two significant reasons for learning the restocking schedule of your grocery store.
The first is that some items will go on sale the day before restocking, as the store needs to clear out certain products before they refill the shelves.
The second reason is that produce is freshest on the days the store restocks.
As produce is difficult to keep fresh, making sure to buy it as early as your grocery store restocks will help to make it last longer.
This is not easy for those with a limited selection of grocery stores, as there may only be one or two options with lots of competition from other customers.
Along with the benefits of learning the restocking schedule of your favorite grocery store, it is important to understand the store’s layout.
You can save yourself a significant amount of time and energy by determining the most efficient way to navigate the store to complete your grocery list.
That comes from knowing where everything is and how to get to it!
7. Shop on a Full Stomach (and in the Proper State of Mind)
This tip may seem obvious to some, but with the hectic schedules that many people deal with, it can be challenging to get a meal in before shopping.
Nevertheless, shopping while hungry leads to more impulse purchases, and shopping while uncomfortably full may lead to rushing the shopping process in a desire to get home quicker.
If possible, maintain a balance by having a snack before you go on your shopping trip to give you the energy needed to adhere to your grocery list without going overboard.
By planning your shopping trips more effectively, it should be easier to make sure you are in the proper state of mind to get the shopping done!
8. Buy in Bulk
The best buying strategies for bulk goods will differ significantly depending on where you live and what stores you have available.
Some people see success in going to dedicated warehouse stores like Costco, but many grocery stores do offer discounts for customers making purchases in bulk.
To maintain the goal of two to three shopping trips per month, it may work best to complete a bulk shopping trip as a separate one from your regular grocery shopping excursions.
This separation allows for a greater focus on budgeting and stocking your pantry with non-perishable goods that are best purchased in bulk.
Understanding how often to buy groceries is a complex formula that differs from family to family and even on an individual basis.
Many people often go grocery shopping without a plan and without considering how they could improve this necessary aspect of life.
All it takes is some foresight and a willingness to spend some upfront time planning to save time, money, and stress in the long run.
Remember that not every one of these tips will work for every person on every single shopping trip.
As I mentioned previously, the vast differences in shopping norms and availability of stores in your area will mean that you may only be able to utilize some parts of this list on each trip.
The important thing is to take the time to think about your process and improve it each time you go grocery shopping!
To learn more tips about grocery shopping, check out the articles below: