My husband and I recently bought a house, and we’d like to plump up our emergency fund just in case we have a large house expense. (Because, of course, when you have little savings, expensive things start to break. It’s the law of nature, right?)
To inspire myself, I reread America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money by Steve and Annette Economides. One strategy of theirs that I latched onto is once a month shopping. The Economides shop once a month for their family of seven and right after shopping day, they make 15 to 17 freezer meals to help them on nights when they’re too busy to cook.
Alright, I already regularly cook freezer meals, so how hard could it be to shop once a month for my family of five?
As it turns out, very tough, at least the first month.
Breaking Bad Habits
I have a bad habit of making a big shopping trip on the weekend and then running to the store for this or that several times a week.
Do you do this, too? From all of the harried shoppers I see at the store at 5 p.m., I’m guessing I’m not alone.
The problem is that each time I run to the store, I buy more items than I initially went to the store to buy. The Economides recommend once a month shopping to avoid this kind of impulse buying that blows up the grocery budget.
Making the Big Shopping Trip
This month, eager to change my bad shopping habit, I scouted the deals and made my big, once a month shopping trip. I spent two days afterward cooking up meals to put in the freezer. I was set, or so I thought.
Turns out, limiting the impulse to stop by the store is more difficult than I thought.
There are a number of reasons why we’re struggling:
- My husband likes fresh fruit and veggies. Our family wiped these out after a week, so back I went to the store to pick up some more.
- I’m an impulse eater. If something sounds good to me, I want to make the recipe and have it for dinner. I don’t want to wait until my next monthly shopping trip to get the ingredients to make it. (The whim would have passed by then, which is the point, I guess.)
- Eating up odds and ends at the end of the month is not fun. Sure, trying to make meals out of what food is left is fun, but the last few days, most of it doesn’t taste good.
Taking Baby Steps Moving Forward
While it would be easy to give up on the idea of once a month shopping, I haven’t yet because I know it can be a big money saver. Instead, I’m going to back up and move to twice a month shopping. This will allow me time to plan out our meals for two weeks, making sure we have all the ingredients we need. Many fruits and veggies stay good for nearly two weeks, so my husband will have the fresh fruits and veggies that he wants.
I don’t know if I’ll ever fully implement once a month shopping, but if I am successful with twice a month shopping, I will still significantly reduce my impulse shopping trips and improve my grocery budget.
How often do you grocery shop? Are you a multiple trip, impulse buyer like I am (was?), or are you a grocery store ninja?
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.