"There are plenty of ways to get ahead. The first is so basic I'm almost embarrassed to say it: spend less than you earn." - Paul Clitheroe

Shop Once A Week – Daily Financial Challenge

By , April 28th, 2006 | 15 Comments »

sgrocery store - shop once a weekYesterday we talked about making to do lists and how they can save you money (I hope that you wrote down a single goal yesterday and have another one today). In the same light, organization is a key component to saving money. Your organization – or lack there of – will show up in countless little things that you do such as having to make extra trips to the grocery store because you forgot something you needed.

Grocery stores are well oiled machines in getting you to part from your money. The more times you enter the store, the more money you’ll likely spend. In addition, with gasoline prices so high, each extra trip to the store costs you money in gas and time.

One of the best ways to help reduce the amount you spend at the grocery store is simply not to go there as often. Getting into the habit of only going once a week (or even better, once every two weeks) will help shave a minimum of $50 off your grocery bill, and possibly much more depending on how often you currently go.

Set aside a certain day each week on your calendar that you will make your “grocery shopping day” to do all your grocery shopping for that week. Commit to making that the only day that you will do your grocery shopping. This will force you to get organized and make a list of the things you need if you aren’t doing that right now (another good habit that will save you money) so that you have enough food to last you through the week.

While it will be tempting to go to the grocery store more than once when you first begin this exercise, don’t do it. The struggle will help you become more organized and pay off in the long run. If you are used to going to the store when you accidentally forget something, it’ll mean that you’ll probably have to do some creative alternatives with your cooking plans, but it’ll also help you break yourself from the habit of going more than you should which costs you money.

You can also take our Grocery Shopping Quiz to test your grocery shopping knowledge and visit our satellite site Grocery Coupon Guide for more quality information on ways that you can reduce your grocery shopping costs.

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  • Savon says:

    Thanks for the tip, but it’s a little unclear. Could you please explain how going to the grocery store less frequently will save me money? I mean, I have to buy the same things, no matter how often I go. You mentioned the price of gas – but that’s irrelevant, as supermarkets are so close to work, home, etc. Perhaps you’re talking about buying in bulk – but if so, that should be the tip.

    Personally, I don’t decide what I’m going to cook until the night I’m going to cook it. That means, about every 3 days, I go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of food, take it home and cook it, and eat it over 3 days.

    I share a house with 2 other people, and couldn’t fit a week’s worth of food in the fridge, let alone two weeks. Did you consider the cost of buying a larger refrigerator, and the cost of electricity, and the cost of the space taken up by the refrigerator?

    I think I could manage to buy a couple of items in bulk, that I use frequently, perhaps chicken breasts or ground turkey.

    I spent $250 on groceries this month, compared to $500 last month. Here’s how I did it: 1) Cooked only for myself, not for other people. 2) Went on a diet (it’s only temporary though). 3) Started paying more attention to prices in the store – some equivalent items cost 2 or 3 times as much as others.

  • LR Johnson says:

    I try to shop even less often. I averaged $101.65 per month over the last 16 months (food only, no TP, shampoo, etc.). I like to do one big run at the main bulk food place that has consistently low prices. I do one sweep of the canned foods place that has some items always cheaper, and periodic great deals. Now and then I’ll make a quick stop somewhere else if there’s a super loss leader sale. I rebuild my pantry; I don’t buy for meals. If I have all my standards, I can make a wide variety of meals. I share a fridge and pantry with one person, and we never have problems getting all our food in the medium size fridge and freezer we have. Besides being a money saver, it also is a time and headache saver.

  • pennywise says:

    I think you are doing a great job here Jeff. Keep up the good work. I like all would like to save money on groceries. I find I really can’t because I have switched to fresh foods and everything organic I can. Canned goods and cheaper foods have far too many chemicals and additives and I am very concerned about our health. However, the less trips is a good tip. I decided last trip that I would go every two weeks instead of every week. This way I will not buy so many cookies and stuff for the family. Farmers market in our area is not cheaper, actually I can get items at the grocery for less if on sale. The farmers have marked their produce up to meet grocery prices. This is fair as their food should be fresher and they have to make a living too. Not only that they have to rent the space at the market. That is what I have to say. Any tips to help with fresh food and organic is helpful.

  • sue says:

    The store is on my way home from work so additional gas is not an issue. Fresh produce looses both quality and nutrion as it gets older. So a once a week purchase will have lettuce looking pretty wilted by weeks end. I find buying fresh to last about 3-4 days with a quick stop to add any additional fresh veg. or fruit.
    Remember that some vegetables can last longer such as cabbage, potatoes and carrots.

    A new study out points out that reducing intake of food is healthier for people.

  • pfadvice says:

    First, let remind everyone that the tips are guidelines. Every person has different factors to take into account for their particular situation and you need to make your decisions based on those factors.

    Studies show that the more times you go to the grocery store and the longer that you stay inside a grocery store, the more money the average person spends. If you stick strictly to a list and never purchase impulse items, then going more often may not make as much of a difference. Most people, however, don’t stick to their lists and do buy impulse items so for most people, the fewer times you go shopping, the less money you’ll spend.

  • Frugal Momma says:

    Good advice. I try to only go once a week. I don’t have any problems with produce going bad. The less you are at the store the less you spend on those last minute purchases.

  • yesh says:

    thanks jeff for the valuable advice..we are three in the house and yet we end up spending too much for food as if we were a big family.we often go to the grocery store than anyone i know due to lack of organization and the much needed grocery list..though we dont spend too much on gas because the store is just a few blocks away from our village,nevertheless it is still a waste.. we are living in israel and im wondering if you know any internet site here in israel that we can look into to get better deals on food,clothings etc..we are new here and can not speak hebrew.if you know someone who knows some site that shows information regarding thrift stores and schedules regarding discount sale of stores in this country please do so..thanks and God bless!

  • pfadvice says:

    I don’t know of any offhand, but I do know the feeling of living in a foreign country. It will take some time before you learn the deals and where to find them – I know it took me quite awhile living in Japan before I started to learn where I could save money. Your best bet is asking other foreigners who have lived there for awhile and take the experience they have to speed you along in the learning process.

  • Perky says:

    The less I shop the less I buy, so it works for me!

  • Hana says:

    Yesh, I’m in Israel, a long time (20+ years) and speak Hebrew. I don’t know of a web site that can help you, but there is an organization that just might. It’s called ESRA (www.esra.org.il ) and among its services it has lists of tradespeople that do good jobs,as well as shopping hints in its bimonthly magazine.

  • nanamom says:

    I used to shop for a month at a time. Now I try for two weeks and am usually successful. OUr grocery budget does go up if we shop oftener. My DH is always ready willing and able to go to the store for something and always ends up buying something not on the list, (or my diet) so I try really hard to prevent that. Sometimes it means sandwiches but we survive.

  • Everysec says:

    Good advice, that’s one tip to which I can easily adhere. I don’t really have the time to go more than once a week so that helps. As does filling up with a big lunch before shopping. I’m just back from my weekly shop and only got my necessary items for the week as the sight of rich heavy food just wasn’t as tempting.

  • Pattie says:

    I think shopping once a week is the better idea. I make a list and check it twice. Since I went on a healthy eating diet I find that going around the outside of the store starting with vegetables and fruits, then to chicken and fish, very little of any pork,beef etc…, then to dairy and the bread aisle. I then look at my list for simple staples that are located in the rows. I spend much less money when I don’t even go down all the processed food aisles. I never combine food and household cleaning products, beauty supplies or paper goods. I save that for a once a month trip to a place like Walmart. I eat more vegetarian meals and have not only saved about 40% from what I use to spend but I have lost 23 pounds! We just don’t need all the packaged crap and we feel better for it!


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    […] Personal Finance Advice suggested shopping once a week (or less frequently) to save money. […]

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    […] Shop Once A Week – Daily Financial Challenge […]

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