Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Limit Shopping to Save Time and Money

Photo by dougww

How often do you go to the grocery store? Target? Warehouse stores? Some people I know visit the grocery store up to three times per week! That seems like a huge time-sink and a waste of gas.

Could you save yourself time by going less frequently?

We have gotten our shopping down to 1 trip per week. Every other week, we go to Trader Joe's for groceries, and Target for everything else. Alternating weeks, means that we only go shopping once per week. This is a *huge* time saver.

If you run to the store several times per week, consider why. Are you constantly running out of a particular item (milk)? Are you running out to get a few items for that night's dinner? Do you go to multiple different stores to do your weekly grocery shopping?

What would it really take to get your number of trips down to one per week, or even once per two weeks? For us, there were several things we changed in order to reduce the shopping trips.

1) We would usually run out of milk. Now, we try to buy enough milk to last two weeks at Trader Joe's. If we are running low, I can pick up more at Target the following weekend. We also stock a few cartons of soy milk and almond milk in the pantry for when we run out. Lastly, we make sure to stock a few breakfast options that don't require milk.

2) We would run out of produce, or the produce we bought would go bad by the second week. Now, we buy fresh produce for the first week, and eat mostly frozen for the second week. In addition, we buy a few items which keep longer so that we have some fresh things for the second week. Good examples are carrots, apples, and bananas (if you buy them green). We also order a large fresh salad for take-out mid-week through the second week to get a burst of fresh veggies.

3) Meal planning. We don't really do meal plans per-se. But, we always have on hand the ingredients for a few of our "standard" dinners. That way, there is always something that we can make out of the pantry or freezer instead of having to run to the store. For some good options, see my easy Trader Joe's meals recipes.

4) Running out of non-perishable items (formula, toilet paper, shampoo). I just can't think of an excuse for making a special trip to the store because you ran out of a non-perishable item. They don't go bad; so there is no reason to not have lots on hand. Buy in bulk and always have a spare.

5) Order your regularly-used items through Amazon Subscribe and Save. Have them delivered to your house on a regular schedule with free shipping. We use this for diapers, and lots of other household items.

6) Sacrifice variety for the sake of saving time. There are a lot of foods we just don't eat because they aren't available at Trader Joes. Over time, that has become more and more OK with us. Most of the foods we used to buy at the other grocery stores were over priced and unhealthy anyway.

7) If you are a big warehouse store shopper, consider how frequently you really need to go. There are lots of temptations there, so limiting the number of visits can save you money as well.

Think of all the fun things you could do with your weekend if you weren't spending it running errands.

How often do you shop? What's the one item you are always running out of?


  1. Hey Josie,

    Great tips! Re: tip 4 and 5 - you are going to love the company I work for - We'll be helping you to manage your household products online. Check it out and let me know what you think!

    rebecca [at] alice [dot] com

  2. @Rebecca - sounds really interesting. Can't wait for the beta.

  3. I've gotten our # of trips down pretty good. I used to go to the grocery, drugstore, Target etc every week and the warehouse club every 3-4 weeks. Now I go to the grocery about every 2 weeks and hardly to the drugstore at all. We stocked up so much recently w/toiletries etc that I have no need to go.

    To help cut down on the food trips we started buying in bulk and freezing. Our freezer is chock a block full of hamburger meat, hotdogs, pork chops, chicken breasts. I also freeze bread and milk. I package all of these up into small sizes so I only need to pull out as much as a I need to cook a meal or when we run out in the fridge.

    The one thing I haven't been able to figure out yet is eggs. Seems we are always running out.

    I'll have to look into amazon/alice. Never thought to have it delivered! Makes it even easier!

  4. @Lori - that's awesome! I never thought to freeze milk. Does it taste okay when thawed? Our freezer is teeny, so we have to be careful, but we do freeze bread, meat, veggies, and berries. Freezing milk would be huge for us. That's what we always run out of first.


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