I’ve tried many ways to carry out our grocery shopping in an attempt to be efficient in terms of time and money. To me, being efficient with time means it doesn’t take me too long to do the shopping, I don’t need to go back for things that I’ve missed and I buy food that is quick and easy to prepare. Being efficient with money means not only spending less, but getting the most use out of what I buy and not wasting food.
I’ve tried buying in bulk at the start of the month then shopping each week for things we run out of like fresh fruit and veg, dairy and bread. I found that it’s really hard knowing what to buy for a whole month, and inevitably we ran out of some items while having too much of others. So much food, so little to eat. This has sometimes resulted in food waste which I loathe for reasons both frugal and environmental. It was also hard to find space to store bigger bulk items and often items would get lost at the back of a full cupboard.
I’ve tried online shopping. Soooo convenient! My preferred supermarket offers a loyalty program where we earn points when we shop. As part of this program, they keep a record of everything we buy so they can target their marketing. The plus side of this is that a record of our purchases was available when I linked our loyalty program with our online shopping account. All I had to do was search through what I had previously bought, select what I wanted, add anything else we needed and choose the delivery time. Like I said, so convenient. As there is a charge for delivery* I decided to do a large shop once a month and ran into the same problems as outlined above. Plus I prefer to choose my own fruit and veg, which would necessitate a trip to the shops. I found I was buying things I didn’t really need, stocking up too much on specials (as I didn’t need to cart the food home so could buy up big) and all-in-all spending more than I should.
*There are some free slots but they aren’t always convenient. They usually go over a school drop off / pick up time and I can’t risk the groceries arriving while I’m out.
What I’ve started doing is shopping each week just for the week. I find it easier to meal plan for just one week, I’m more able to spot and benefit from specials that change weekly, my trolley doesn’t get ridiculously heavy and each trip to the shops is quicker.
I’m also trying to extend the time between shops. I shop for a week and at the end of that week scrounge around for a few days putting together meals from whatever is left. I find I can usually last 2-3 days longer. I might shop every 10 days, like this:
- Week 1 – Monday
- Week 2 – Wednesday
- Week 3 – Friday
- Week 4 – no shopping
- Week 5 – Monday
In this way, I will shop three times per month instead of four and make sure I use everything (or just about everything) before I go back to the shops, thus eliminating food waste.
In terms of efficiency, this method should limit the number of times I go to the shops. In terms of money, groceries remain a main area that I need to reduce my spending on but I’m sure this method is the key to achieving this.