For the last few years, I have had a higher grocery budget, so I’ve stocked up on food. I do this for two reasons. First, we have food intolerances—specifically, we can’t eat gluten or dairy—so we need specific foods in the house. Second, I find having a stocked pantry makes mealtime easier. I never need to go out to eat because I have everything to make several meals, depending on what we’re hungry for. However, I recently watched a YouTube video that intrigued me. Based on this video, I’ve experimented with buying only necessary groceries each week for the last few weeks.
Steps I Took to Implement This Change
During the last few weeks, I’ve set a grocery budget of $140 per week for my family of four, which is much less than the $215 a week I typically spend.
I make a menu plan and grocery list the night before I go to the grocery store, so I know what meals I’ll cook during the week. I also try to choose recipes that will utilize ALL of an ingredient. For instance, I needed to buy green cabbage for a stir fry. But I only needed to use half the head of cabbage, so I picked another recipe that would use the other half of the cabbage later in the week, so I used ALL of the cabbage up that week.
Benefits of Buying Only Necessary Groceries Each Week
While I never thought I would enjoy shopping this way, I did realize several benefits of buying only necessary groceries each week.
I Saved Money
We saved a lot of money shopping this way. Over two weeks, we saved $150! This was in part because we were not stocking up on food. However, we also saved because I had limited food in the house, and we HAD to utilize the food we bought.
We Had Less Food Waste
We typically have very little food waste, but shopping this way eliminated food waste. As I mentioned, I was mindful of finding recipes that would use up ALL of an ingredient. Previously, that other half of the green cabbage might have lingered in the refrigerator for a while. We would use it. . .eventually, but when we did, we might have to cut out some bad spots because we let it sit too long before using it.
This way of shopping enhanced how I shop and menu plan. Even better, the benefits of only buying necessary groceries each week were that we saved money and reduced food waste.
However, even though this strategy worked for me, I like to have a stock of food at home in case we can’t shop due to bad weather or limited supplies. From now on, I plan to stock up occasionally to resupply my pantry. Still, for the foreseeable future, I plan to buy only what I need and continue with this experiment to see what other benefits I realize.
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.