At the beginning of the year I took a hard look at our grocery budget and said to myself, “I think that it is time to trim things down a bit.” I make a lot of things from scratch so I knew I was not wasting much money on packaged foods. I decided to take seriously the idea of bulk shopping. My plan was to incorporate Costco and Azure Standard as part of my monthly grocery shopping.
Everyone says that bulk shopping is cheaper. The first month I not only failed to spend less, I spent $50 MORE than I had been spending. What? I was so discouraged. What did I do wrong? I don’t like to lose, and so I buckled down more determined than ever to try to make this work.
I learned a few lessons, took notes (Yes, I am that big of a nerd.), and tweaked a few things in the last few months. I have successfully brought our month grocery costs down by $50. With careful planning I hope that I will be down another $25 in June, and I really want to bring our grocery budget down a total of $100 from the first of the year by the end of summer.
I would love to share what I have learned. (For the sake of example let’s pretend that our budgeted goal is $500 a month, and that I typically go to the grocery store once a week.)
1. Do not use a bulk shopping trip as one of the regular weekly grocery trips. At the onset of my quest I was trying to substitute one of my weekly trips to the store for a trip to Costco. It didn’t work. I would spend my $125 but still did not have what I needed for the week. I would have a lot of flour, almonds and dried fruit but no fresh vegetables. (“Trail mix again today kids. We have enough flour to feed The 5,000, but I don’t have anything else to cook with it!” They were not impressed.) I know now that I need to plan on my regular grocery trip on the top of my Costco run or Azure Order.
2. Use the “Snowball effect” to build up the pantry. When I switched thinking of my bulk shopping trip as equal to a weekly shopping trip I also had to switch my budget. Back to my $500 budget, if I skimmed $25 a week off my grocery trips I had $100 for bulk shopping. That goes quickly especially divided between Costco and Azure Standard. If I get bulk oats this month the next month I may still have left over oats and can buy honey or olive oil. Next month I might also find that I am able to skim an additional $5 off each week to increase my bulk shopping amount to $120. I am building up my pantry slowly, but at a pace that I can afford.
3. Keep receipts with you on a shopping trip if at all possible. I keep a 3 ring binder with my “brain” in it. (Calendar, lists, notes, life) In it I kept a folder for receipts. Is the spaghetti sauce I am standing here looking at while at Costco a better deal, or is the one that I have been getting at Trader Joe’s the best price per ounce? It isn’t a big deal if I over spend a little on one jar, but if I am buying 3 or 4 it will add up. I only had to do this for a couple of months before I quickly knew what I needed from where.
4. Make a meal plan before shopping. If we are only having corn muffins once this month then it isn’t the best bang for my buck to buy 5 months worth of cornmeal while I am building my “snowball.” Conversely, once I bought all that cornmeal I need to make sure to work muffins into the menu. It only makes good
The month of May is almost gone, and it is time for me to take inventory and see what I need for June. I’ll make my meal plan and plan my trips. This is going to be a great summer for savvy shopping! Any tips you have to pass along? Please be sure to leave a comment below! Happy bulk shopping!
This post is linked to "Eating from the Pantry and Freezer Challenge" at Keeper of the Home and
Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy's Recipes.