I Tried Saving Money at the Supermarket and Failed. Here's What I'm Now Doing Instead

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KEY POINTS

  • I've been trying to shop for food more conservatively now that grocery prices are through the roof.
  • Although I temporarily changed my approach to shopping and reaped some savings, my efforts ultimately didn't work out.


In a nutshell, I'm giving up -- but that's not the whole story.

When inflation started soaring and driving food costs up this year, my husband and I sat down and tried to figure out ways to lower our spending. See, food takes up a huge chunk of our budget, and while we can afford the food costs we rack up, the more we spend in that area, the less money we have for other things, like savings.

Earlier in the year, I made a big change to the way I shopped for food, and it helped save us some money initially. But I've since realized that change doesn't work for my schedule. And these days, not only am I not saving money on groceries, I'm probably spending more due to higher costs.

But at this point, I'm sort of resigned to spending a lot at the supermarket. And rather than try to fight that, I'm making other changes instead.

A well-intentioned plan that didn't pan out

Earlier this year, I started going to the grocery store once a week for a giant stock-up rather than going multiple times a week like I used to. The logic was that being more organized would result in lower bills.

And it did, for a while. In fact, at one point earlier this year, I was saving around $20 a week by virtue of making that change.

But then I started reverting back to my old ways of stopping at the store on my way home from walking my kids to school, and you know what -- I've realized I just plain like that system better. Even though some people might find it more convenient to do one big shopping trip per week for food, I prefer to stop in three or four times a week, get a day or two's worth of groceries, and then repeat.

Also, my family tends to eat a lot of produce. Now to be fair, we get most of that from Costco, which we hit up once a week. But we also get some produce from our local supermarket. I noticed that by loading up once a week, we'd end up with less-than-desirable produce after five or six days -- whereas restocking every other day means enjoying fresher products.

But either way, gone are the days of me shaving money off of my supermarket costs. And that's something I've learned to accept.

It's all about priorities

My husband and I don't believe in throwing our money away. But the way we see it, spending a lot on food isn't wasteful (as long as we don't consistently throw out items from our pantry and fridge).

Yes, our grocery bills are large, but feeding our family a range of meals that include different proteins and produce items is important to us. So rather than stress ourselves out trying to find ways to save $10 here and $15 there on food, we're instead going to look at cutting back on other non-essential expenses.

As one example, most years, we spend a small fortune when our county fair rolls into town. This summer, we're going to skip our night at the fair and go to a free local event instead. In doing so, I expect to save around $150. That's enough to pad our grocery budget for a month or two.

This is just one example, but the point is that I'm really done inconveniencing myself to save money on an essential expense like food. If we decide we're not happy with what our total bills look like, we'll cut back on other things. But I'm not going to skimp on an important thing like groceries, and I'm not going to mess with a shopping schedule that works well for me.

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