How I Simplified My Grocery Shopping
Several years ago, I spent grocery day in a mad rush from one store to the next. I averaged shopping at least 6 stores, during my shopping day. Every thing I bought was on sale and often at a very good price. So why was I spending so much money? Wasn't I shopping sales? Wasn't I only going in to pick up the items we'd normally use?
Yes, I was. The trouble was that often, and I do mean often, I picked up a little more than was needed. I was 'stocking up'. If I went in to purchase four items but came out with twelve, I'd spent a good bit more than the four items would have cost me.
Too, there was the tendency to indulge in one or two items that were exclusive to that store and not the others. Even if I were spot on my targeted spending amount I might have foregone those impulse items and saved a little more.
And then there was the wearying burden of it all. If I made six stops then the likelihood that I was going to need nourishment or hydration was great. Naturally I was going to go to a fast food place or snag something at the deli or from those handy little drink cases/candy displays at the register. Another added expense.
When I began shopping at Aldi, I found great relief in no longer stopping multiple times during a grocery shopping day. True, we don't purchase every single thing at Aldi. I had a long list two years ago of things we couldn't purchase at Aldi. I find more and more, though, that the non-Aldi list is growing shorter and shorter. Not because Aldi suddenly started carrying all these other items but because we've determined that we can, after all, live without a good many of them as long as we have plenty of the basics on hand. One thing Aldi is very good for is basic food items.
It doesn't matter if you don't shop at Aldi. It's not just that Aldi has such good prices on so many good items. No, it's giving up the idea that just because I can access a dozen groceries, I don't need to. Do you understand that? I gave up the notion that because I could didn't mean I had to. I decided a couple of years ago to focus hard on Aldi as my main grocery store. We purchase a few things at a second grocery sometimes on the same day for bakery bread and pet foods. I stop in one or two other stores on occasion. By that I mean that I regularly go to two other stores. I visit one about once every two months and the other about once a month. At both I purchase only a select few items and I don't wander the aisles to look at any other items nor do I read the sales sheet. Again, it's not that Aldi carries every single item we need. It's more that we've decided to live with the more limited selection.
Do you know that the average grocery carries a whopping 43,000 items? And that figure may be low because it was based on 2014 figures, not 2017! This article was a real eye opener when I googled to get an idea of the number of choices we face in just the grocery store. Imagine seeing that number of products times the six stores I used to visit. No wonder I felt overwhelmed and dazed by the end of a shopping day! By simplifying the process of shopping, I cut down on the number of decisions I had to make. Cutting down on decisions actually keeps my mind sharp to make GOOD choices. Studies have shown that the more choices we have to make the less likely it is we will make the best choice but merely give up and go for the item that seems the most familiar.
Did you realize that for every grocery shopping trip the average time spent is over 1 1/2 hours?
As well, the amount of time saved, the lack of need to compare prices against many competitors and the slow down in coupon usage overall was an added time bonus. The typical shopper goes into a grocery 1.5 times per week. This is where our living far from our store of choice is a huge bonus. I average less than 1 trip into the grocery per week with only two of those visits being anything near a major shop.
Having fewer choices has also made me keenly aware of when an item is truly a steal. Like the year I found a certain brand of tuna on sale at a store we visited only occasionally because of a shipment error. I bought 24 cans for 33c each when tuna was going for easily 80c a tin even at Aldi! Or the time John spied a case load of butter that was marked $1 a pound. Now there was a sale worth taking advantage of! Over shipments can put a store in a bind and they must get rid of the items before they spoil.
Mostly I don't look for sales. I don't spend hours scanning ads, anymore. Unless I have something specific I plan to purchase I don't bother to watch sales sheets. And that means I less often feel the need to run to the store.
The less often we run to the store, the less items we tend to think we can't live without. It's been incredibly freeing of time and money! Try it. Next time you think you must just have something on sale, ask yourself: "Is it a basic food item?" "Is it something I can make myself?" "Am I really saving by stocking up on this item?" If the answer is "No" to any of them, stop and reconsider. See if you too can't begin to save a bit more money by not shopping.
Try an experiment. Choose to shop at just one store for one month. You can choose any store you'd like: the one closest to your home or the one that consistently has the best sales. Give it a good try and see if you don't find it incredibly freeing of time and if you don't save a few dollars in the process. If you don't save but spend no more then it's still a win in the saving of time for you. No one could have been harder to convince than I was until John started shopping with me and insisted I cut out the craziness with the multiple stops.
Try this experiment and let me know what you find.