Update: This has been a great, popular discussion! Please Stumble It and let us know your opinion about the topic!
Meredith asked a great question:
I am trying to decide which philosophy works best…shop for what is on my menu for the week, or shop sales/deals and stock up. What are your thoughts?
I think results will vary based on your family size and the stores available in your area. Also, it’ll depend on how often you shop. For me, I’m at the grocery every Thursday. Others might prefer monthly shopping trips.
I use the "shop for my menu" strategy.
- I can easily spend a small amount on my weekly groceries, since I’m buying roughly 7 days worth of food.
- I’m forced to plan a dinner menu for the week. This strategy saves time and a lot of money.
- Waste is minimal. No canned goods sitting on a shelf for years, no things hiding in the freezer.
- Less food to store in my small kitchen.
- I don’t have a huge supply of food.
- I *might* miss out on good sales
If something is truly a good sale, such as good toilet paper at less than .20 per roll, I’ll stock up to last me awhile.
If it’s something regular, like pasta sauce, I’ll buy a few jars but won’t go overboard. That sort of stuff goes on sale fairly often.
I do quite a bit of my shopping at Aldi. The prices are pretty much the same each week, though there are some sales. [If you’re wondering about Aldi…GO! Take a quarter for your cart, and some bags, and have a good time] But anyway, there’s no reason for me to buy 10 cans of corn at Aldi. I might eat one or two cans per week, so that’s what I’ll buy if it’s on my menu.
As a general rule of thumb, I only stock up on incredible deals on things I’ll absolutely use (TP) or on staples that don’t go on supersale often (peanut butter).
[Edit: I should have made this point a little more clear]: I don’t just buy what I need for the week, and that’s absolutely it. I do it sort of the way Lynnae has described in the comments below.
So, there are assorted things on my shelf that aren’t on a menu just yet–boxes of macaroni & cheese, rice, jello, etc.
I base my menu planning and shopping list based on things I already have, and things that are on sale.
In the past, I considered trying a bulk-buying method, but it didn’t work for me. I had to put more money out there upfront, I don’t have a lot of storage space, and it’s too easy for me to forget what I have.
Maybe I’ll go back to pantry-stocking in the future when I have less time, but for now, the menu approach works best for me.
Which strategy do you use?