If quarantine this year taught us anything about our food shopping habits, it’s that efficient grocery shopping is completely possible and within our reach!
NO, we don’t actually need to hit the grocery store more than once a week, even if it’s “on the way home from work” or “just a quick stop.” Not even for perishables.
Those short trips never felt like an inconvenience before. But once they were eliminated, we realized clearly that multiple trips to the store:
- Created more opportunities for impulse purchases
- Added likelihood that older food would be tossed after adding the new items
- Enforced a higher likelihood that we’d ditch the meal plan to go for something “we actually feel like tonight”
- Reduced awareness of the overall weekly grocery costs since multiple small charges end up looking like less spending.
However, simply buying food once a week isn’t enough to solve these problems.
The RIGHT food must land in your cart. This is achieved by planning far enough ahead to ensure you aren’t forgetting anything during your weekly trip to the store.
Scratching your head on how to make this work? Keep reading to discover what efficient grocery shopping looks like, benefits of limiting your trips, how to plan ahead, and how to make things easier week-to-week!
Here’s What Efficient Grocery Shopping Looks Like
Efficient grocery shopping is honestly so simple.
It’s limiting the quantity of trips to the store by planning ahead with bulk purchasing in mind.
It’s a small-scale stockpile prep with a side of rock solid meal planning.
Heck, it could even be a large-scale stockpile prep, but we’re not there yet.
Efficient Grocery Shopping is …
- Limiting trips to the store by planning ahead.
- Making use of outsourcing & grocery/meal delivery options.
- Respecting the meal plan and not pivoting unless absolutely necessary.
- Stopping impulse purchases before they even have a chance.
- Saving money!
- Freeing time up to spend on more exciting things than constantly standing in line at the grocery store.
It doesn’t have to be …
- Eating the same food over & over.
- Restricting yourself from food-based pleasures.
- Eating your pantry bare.
- Limiting to your creativity in the kitchen.
Efficient Grocery Shopping, in a nutshell, looks like time & money saved so you can redirect to things that matter most – literally everything we all want!
Benefits of Limiting Trips to the Grocery Store
I’ll admit, it’s been a long, long time since I went to the grocery store by myself.
This is my husband’s domain. He OWNS the kitchen and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
He’s a rock star cook! I can bake desserts like a boss. But, desserts don’t qualify as a great dinner.
I’m in charge of the home finances, so I see the repeated grocery store trips from a different angle. Plus, I notice when he’s at the store all the time and not at home.
So, here’s our consolidated list of the benefits we’ve seen as we improve the efficiency of our grocery shopping habits:
Money Saved | This is a no-brainer, because fewer trips to the store equals fewer opportunities to drop a couple “extras” in the cart.
Back when he was taking our daughter to the store with him, I swear they’d spend $25 extra on silly stuff (balloons, Hatchimals, you name it). He couldn’t say no to her, and he struggles to say no to himself too (as we all do). So this is a big one.
Increased Visibility On Money | We pay for everything with our one single credit card. I appreciate the visibility, instant tracking, and consolidated single payment each month (KEY: We absolutely pay it off every single month!).
What I didn’t realize was how much extra brain power it was taking me to figure out what our grocery bill really was each week to gauge success against our budget.
Fewer transactions equals immediate visibility on our spending! Granted, our single transactions at the store are now higher, but I don’t have to cobble together multiple charges to figure out our true weekly spend.
Time Saved | Instead of hitting the store for 20 minutes 3x per week and another 1.5 hours on the weekend, it’s only 1.5 hours on the weekend. An entire hour saved, just by limiting those 3 extra trips.
This allows for more time together and less time overall dealing with the process of meal planning, prepping & grocery shopping. It’s a win-win!
How to Plan Ahead for Your Efficient Grocery Shopping Trip
Not only does planning an entire 90 days of meals mean efficiency in time, but by planning that far in advance, you know exactly what you need throughout the month.
Equipped with that information, you can view the plan in bulk. Saving time AND money with your groceries.
Step 1 | Bulk Items for the Month
Because of this bird’s eye view, we start with our Costco list and we plan a month worth of bulk items. If you’re not a member at a warehouse like Costco yet, it’s a must!
From Costco, we usually buy frozen items, snacks, and cooking ingredients (coconut oil, etc.).
Step 2 | Meat, Poultry, Pork, Bacon, etc.
Once we know the bulk items that are coming from Costco for the entire month, we then work out the meat, poultry, pork, bacon, etc.
Our meat comes from a combination of ButcherBox and our weekly grocery store run. We look online at the options available for our ButcherBox, fill it up, and finalize the order.
In fact, we often expand the view to two months ahead, which means the following month doesn’t require a ButcherBox order at all!
NOTE: You’ll benefit greatly from a deep freezer if you plan ahead like this. It’s worth every penny!
Step 3 | Weekly Grocery Trip
The third & final step is to build your list for the weekly grocery trips.
The first trip of the month is the biggest trip because it’ll include non-perishables for the entire month.
The next few trips will be much more manageable because they’ll focus on things like milk, bread, cheese, and produce.
Create a Little Black Book of Grocery Store Items
This is a quick little hint, but so helpful, nonetheless!
Each time you build a list, it’s an opportunity to systematize the process for the next time.
As you begin to truly understand what types of foods you buy from each individual store, create a checklist for each store you frequent!
It’s also a great idea to document “typical” prices for more expensive items so you can look for additional ways to save money.
Go the Extra Mile for Efficient Grocery Shopping & Outsource
ButcherBox was mentioned earlier, so you already know that I’m a huge fan of outsourcing.
While not everything is great for outsourcing, auto-ship programs like ButcherBox, and curbside delivery like Instacart, are an amazing source of efficiency.
These methods will save you even MORE time and are worth setting up.
If you add home cleaning, paper and personal care products to the grocery list, you might consider outsourcing those items especially. We use Amazon Subscribe & Save and Norwex for those types of items.
Not only does this help with accurate grocery budgeting, but it also keeps things at the store focused on food.
Set Your Efficiency Goals
Now is the time to take action, mama!
What are your goals for efficient grocery shopping?
How will you begin to save money and/or time right away?
What steps will you take today to get this train moving forward?
The bottom line is that well-oiled systems in our home make ALL the difference in productivity across the board. Everything works together to impact your time in a positive (or negative) way.
What’s more, creating efficiencies in just one area (meal planning) will impact other areas in a positive way too (home finance)!
It’s a beautiful thing when the home starts to feel like a place of rest instead of just another place to work all the time. Can I get an AMEN?!
If your hands are raised, I’d like to invite you to grab the Home Management Balance Guide. Use the whole guide start-to-finish, or just the awesome weekly meeting agenda template to track goals around meal planning and efficient grocery shopping!
What could you do with all the extra time & money that you could save by creating efficiency in your meal & grocery plans? I KNOW you have big creative dreams and they don’t involve slaving away at home 24/7!