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Reader tip: Grocery shopping every two weeks saves us over $1,000 each year

I loved this testimonial that Sharon emailed in:

I’ve been saving between $100 to $120 every month just simply by going grocery shopping every two weeks instead of every week like I used to do. This is not taking into account the money I might have spent in gas either.

In order to shop every two weeks, I have to plan ahead a little more, thinking about any hosting or extra events I may have to cook for in the next two weeks. A few times, I have had to pick up some extras in between my regular shopping week, but I am amazed at how rare it is that I’ve needed to do so. I’ve discovered I can usually plan my menus around what my cupboards, fridge and freezer contain.

I’m finding that the less I see, the less I buy. The less I shop, the less I see.

By the way, not only has shopping every two weeks dropped by grocery bill significantly, but it’s also given me more time to spend on other projects. -Sharon

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60 Comments

  • SO TRUE. I have started going just twice a month and I just bout two weeks worth of groceries for $130 for a family of three. I am getting so much better at making lists, couponing, allowing only 2-3 snacky extra items.

  • Heidi says:

    Thank you for sharing, Sharon – JUST TODAY I was toying with the idea of a bimonthly grocery run instead of weekly – for the same reasons; to save time and money. We live in a rural area and our Kroger is 21 miles away each way…so the savings would really add up, gas being what it is. I wonder if God is using you ladies to nudge me this this direction?! Thank you again!

    • Marlene says:

      Go for it! I only shop every two weeks, picking up only milk and bananas in the meantime (and I have my husband do that on his way home from work) when absolutely necessary. If we need a treat, instead of buying I’ll have a cookie or snack mix recipe in mind and make sure that on the next shopping trip I can pick up those items. Otherwise, I am only spending about $80 for every two weeks. It took us awhile to get to this point, but go for it! The worst that can happen is you’ll have to send your husband out for milk and bananas 🙂

  • Gina says:

    Oh wow! That seems like a great idea. I may try to begin with only shopping once a week and see if that helps.

  • Ever since we started a budget, I started menu planning two weeks at a time. I do go to the store about every week, but usually one of those trips are just to get the good deals, the other trip is for things that we need for our meals! I feed my family of 6 on about $165 for two weeks but that includes diapers and household stuff! I have also found that many times things come up and we end up not eating what was planned so I usually have a few meals to move to the next two week menu!

    • victoria says:

      wow carolyn ive got seven and rarely does it ever go below 250 a week.. what am i doing wrong! aha menu planning im terrible at it.. hope i can learn a few tips here our grocery bill is eating us up instead of the other way around.

  • Gina says:

    How does your fresh produce last two weeks? We go every week because of the produce issue.

    • Sharon H says:

      I have been shopping for two weeks at a time for almost a year, and find it saves a lot of money. The way I deal with the fresh produce is, bananas and strawberries and highly perishable items usually get eaten the first week, then the second week, I make sure I have things that last longer like apples, pears, melons (don’t peel them until the second week), and watermelon when in season. I don’t usually have problems with spoilage doing it this way. I will only make a odd week trip if there is a REALLY good sale on something I need to stockup on. It works out quite well.

      • Anna says:

        that’s a good idea -thanks!

        • CaronC says:

          Good idea w/the produce! I have nearby farm stands so I buy there in season, and that helps with what I already grow in my garden. Last week I had to make a trip to a town I usually don’t visit. There is a large shopping plaza in the area, but rather then shop the day away, I stopped at one grocery just to buy fresh produce and never looked in any other aisles. Don’t forget about berries. My daughter and I do u-pick in season. Strawberries, blueberries, rasberries and blackberries. I freeze in small bags and then add to chopped fruit (apples, watermelon, whatever is on sale). Also grow your own sprouts can be a substitue for lettuce in sandwiches and wraps. Or added to ho-hum store lettuce to flavor a salad.

    • Amber says:

      I only shop every 2-3 weeks because we live 50 miles from the nearest store. We eat more fresh produce the first week or two (I use Sharon’s method also), then we eat more fruits and veggies that I have canned or frozen until I go shopping again. We supplement with garden produce when available too!

  • Tracy says:

    Produce is always a problem for me too. I can’t get it to last that long. I guess you could eat fresh the first week, and canned or frozen the second week. Is that what you do?

  • Valerie says:

    I do the same thing and spend so much less. The only downside is that week 2 has more frozen than fresh produce.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Because frozen produce is frozen the day it is picked, it actually has more vitamins in it than the “fresh” which is actually days old. The exception is, of course, farmers market food, and, oddly, broccoli, which has more vitamins on the 5th day after it is picked than they day it was. But for the most part, frozen is just as good as fresh,if not better.

      • Valerie says:

        I was under the impression that vegetables lose nutrients after cooking, and when we use frozen they are cooked. When we buy fresh produce, we usually eat it raw. So maybe it completely evens out in the end. I do agree that the quality of frozen vegetables is really good and a better deal for our family because they are cheaper and do not spoil.

  • Amber says:

    It’s a great idea and I’m sure a great money saver but what do you do about produce? We eat the recommended 5-9 servings per day and I just don’t know how we could go 2 weeks without purchasing. We eat lots of salad and go through about one head of romaine per day!

    • We are in the same boat. We tried growing our own, but our lot just isn’t that big, so we have to supplement just about everything we grow. I usually do one shopping trip a week for non-perishables and one for produce at the Farmer’s Market. There are no co-ops or farmlands in our area. I’m not willing to tell my kids “Sorry, no fruit today,” just to save a few dollars a week. But, to each his own. This is just what works for us.

  • Karis says:

    We get paid twice a month, so I started doing this at the beginning of the year (basically shop when we get paid) and I too have been surprised how much I’ve saved! Haven’t sat down and calculated it out, but it’s gotta be a decent amount. We do have to buy produce and milk once in between paychecks, but not much else. Thanks for sharing!

  • Angie says:

    I go every 4-6 weeks and save a ton by not going in every week. We are not very healthy eaters and hardly ever get produce so that is not a problem for us. We do live 35 miles away from any major stores so we also save on gas. I go to our local store when I am in need of milk or bread. I spend around $300 when I get groceries and then keep an extra $100 for anything that has been forgotten or our milk and bread. I think for us $400 a month on food is pretty good. I have a friend that spends $300 plus a week on groceries.

  • Kacie says:

    I’m wondering about the produce thing, too. In the summers, you could join a CSA and simply pick up your weekly supply when it becomes available, or hit the farmer’s market. Or you could try growing a small garden!

  • robyn says:

    i love this idea and agree100%! i see a lot of comments regarding fresh produce; we do a produce co-op every-other week and generally receive about 45lbs of fresh fruits & veggies and generally it lasts a solid two weeks. we eat a lot of veggies in our house too-2 adults 2 kids. i plan my meals around the produce we receive; we use the items that parish faster- first and plan accordingly. i refrigerate what needs to be refrigerated and it lasts (sometimes much longer than expected). our carrots (we get jumbo garden style carrots not mini packaged), cabbage, celery, oranges, lemons, plums, nectarines and grapefruit etc. will last weeks in the refrigerator without spoiling. onions, hard squash, yams and spuds last in the pantry or on the counter last quite a while. other fruits (pears, melons, apples) i split between fridge and counter to extend the life and give variety. things like grapes, avocados, cucumbers, bananas and berries get eaten within and then we focus on the other items at hand. it seems that bell peppers, cauliflower, yellow squash and zucchini will last 7-10 days refrigerated and my tomatoes always last about 7-10 days on the counter sometimes more. we generally get a variety of lettuces, kale and spinach (got 8 large bunches last week!!) and as long as i only wash and prep a couple days worth leaving the rest in a bag in the fridge it will easily last 10 days if i notice it beginning to spoil i wash and fresh to add to smoothies. occasionally if we are leaving town i will flash freeze and produce that i know wont last but for the most part we’ve not had problems keep our produce! we’ve been doing this about 3 years and a much of the produce is local and we rarely use canned fruits of veggies.

    • Michelle says:

      But how do you fit all that in your fridge?!?

      • robyn says:

        i’ll be honest, it’s always a tight fit for a week after our produce arrives- both crispers are stuffed and my bottom shelf is packed too. my fridge isn’t huge either but it’s larger than a standard. i just keep a note about what i have in there so nothing gets wasted.

        • Michelle says:

          We’re a family of 6 and we by a substantial amount of produce and I find it’s a stretch to fit it in the fridge weekly. I’d be hard pressed, I think, to fit two weeks’ worth int.

    • Heather Harman says:

      Truly fresh produce like that lasts much longer than that from the store. Store produce is often quite old by the time you buy it.

      • Jess says:

        True! Bananas bought at the farmers market on friday are still green this morning. If bought from the grocery store….GREEN….they would be yellow and turning by now!

  • Lisa says:

    It makes sense when more and more companies are switching over to every-other-week pay schedules. I try to do the major shopping on the weekend we don’t get paid, but I find it hard to resist when the store has a really good sale. If there is a really good sale and I make a major shopping trip, then I don’t plan another major one for at least another couple of weeks.

  • Katherine says:

    I started doing something very similar to this recently, and it is saving me both money and time!! Every two weeks, I do one big shop at Kroger. I was worried about missing out on great deals on the other weeks, but their best deals usually run for two weeks anyway, so if I miss it the first week, I can still catch it the next. On the non-Kroger weeks, I make one quick stop near my work at a Target that has recently expanded its small grocery section. I pick up bread, fresh fruit, maybe a bag of salad, and I’m all set until my next real shopping trip. Amazingly, I found that planning and shopping for two weeks at a time hardly takes any longer than planning or shopping for just one week, so I’ve basically saved myself that amount of time every other week! My Target trip doesn’t take more than about 10 minutes (or cost more than about $10) because I only need those few things (bread, fruit) that I like to have fresh. If you don’t mind refrigerating or freezing your bread, or if you don’t mind canned fruit or just eating fruit that lasts longer, you wouldn’t even need this extra trip. If you are thinking that you can’t skip a week of shopping because you can’t stock up enough on certain items or because they will spoil after a week, consider a hybrid system like mine. Think of those few items that might be preventing you from doing this now, and then make those items part of a very short list that you get every week. You’ll still save a ton of time, and you’ll still have all your fresh items.

  • alice says:

    I cook for one, so I don’t have the problem of not having enough space, but I do have the problem frequently of having produce go off before I can eat it all. My solution to keeping produce fresh much longer is to use produce savers – special tupperware (that lots of different companies make) designed to keep fruit and veges fresh. I have a variety, and what really seems to make a difference is putting the unwashed produce (so no extra moisture) in a container with a vented platform, so the produce is not sitting in its own moisture. I have had many types of produce last an awfully long time this way, so it might be worth a try for those of you who want to reduce the frequency of your shopping trips too.

  • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    We are blessed, bc DH and I both get paid every two weeks but it’s opposite each other! This means we have a paycheck coming in each week. We have been saving simply by putting a budget number on it (thanks, Crystal for pushing me to Dave Ramsey!) We are a family of four, one in diapers and one with milk allergies and I think I will probably buy baby wipes for all eternity! We started by making groceries 10% of our take home pay and dividing that by 4. At first it was difficult to keep track but we stuck to it and then slowly we started spending about $20 less each week! I save that extra to go toward the personal care stuff, diapers and wipes. Started really tracking the sales on the things we buy regularly and stock up at their lowest prices and using coupons too. I now just cut the budget by about $7 a week to make up for an increase in the gasoline needs and I’m not even nervous!!

    • Emilie says:

      there are recipes on-line for make at home baby wipes that would save you some money maybe 🙂

      • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

        Thanks! With all the deals and coupons I usually find them for about a penny/wipe, and I just don’t have time to make them! That’s one of the areas where time is money! (Like Crystal and her tortillas!!)

      • birtrightrose says:

        I have to respectfully disagree with the time/money argument! Wipes take 7 seconds to make, and once you make the first batch, the second batch is even faster. The one huge reason I even posted is because we need to reduce waste, and buying tubs upon tubs of wipes is environmentally unfriendly. I urge you to reconsider. (And my tortilla making skills have improved so much since my first batch when my husband declared they were the best thing in the world…we can’t go back now that we know what ‘real’ tortillas taste like!)

  • ginger p says:

    This is pretty much what I do too. We are only a family of 2 so rarely do we need to go each week. If we do need stuff the second weeks, it’s very minimal & I usually just pick up the 2 or 3 things at walmart.

  • We do one big shopping trip a month and we eat all grassfed/organic meats, plus mostly organic in everything else. I usually spend about 150 on this trip, although yesterday I spent an additional 100 to stock up on meat as prices are going up. We generally stay under 250 a month for everything including personal care items.

    As for the produce issue, consider freezing items. Any veg that is going to be cooked can be frozen. If you are not going to eat a whole bunch of carrots. Slice and freeze half to add to soups/stews. Broc/peppers/onions are great in stirfrys. Also, fruit can be used in smoothies, ice cream, etc and is easily frozen. Produce savers work wonders. And just eat the stuff that is more likely to go bad first.

  • TeamChandler says:

    I use to run in Walmart more frequently just to get milk and bread and end up spending way too much on other things while I was there…..mainly b/c of impulse and lack of planning. Then, I started picking up milk and bread at the gas station where it is cheaper anyway and where I was to fill up my car. This has saved me time and money as well. Plus, in our area the gas stations advertise the milk prices on their signs so I can quickly compare prices without much effort.

  • Jess says:

    😀 I also shop biweekly! my husband and I get paid biweekly (on the same week) so for a few years now, I’ve been shopping every time we get paid! Meal plans are made for two weeks and I shop at Bi-Lo according to what’s on sale for the week. Any bread that is BOGO free I purchase and one loaf goes into the freezer for week 2. (I’m fortunate enough to have a large deep freezer also) I buy the larger packs of meat as they are on sale and split them into freezer bags. (Family of 5……7 in the summer when the step kids are here) For now, splitting packs of meat works great as I am vegetarian and my 3 boys (ages 8- twins, and 3) don’t eat very much meat. My coworkers sometimes think it takes too much work to make a 2 week meal plan, but it saves me TONS and it works for me!!!
    I’m glad others find it helpful too!

  • Tania says:

    This definitely sounds like it can work wonders for some families (especially with youngsters with the cart gimmies!) but I know for us, that is how we spend more money. Not shopping weekly (or even a few times a week) not only means we tend to eat unhealthy but it also means we tend to eat OUT because we don’t have a lot of food after a long day. The longer between food trips for us also mens we become well aware of what we’re missing and formulate much longer lists. For us, spending $30 a week is much better than spending $100 every two weeks + additional meals out. I think for some families, more frequent shopping works just as well and cuts down on waste (no fruits with mold, no forgetting to get something and making something unplanned, etc.) Guess we all find our own way!

    • ann says:

      I agree! I live less than 1 mile from town, so we get more “bang for our buck” when I shop weekly. I am able to catch markdowns and get the weekly sales (Aldi on produce and Kroger on milk and bread). I’ve also found that if my husband sees the two weeks worth of milk, he drinks it much more quickly and what should have been a two week supply is gone in a week. Then we either have to do without and everyone is crabby about it or I have to restock and I have to pay for it all over again. I can see how shopping every two weeks would work for some, but it just doesn’t work out at our house! 🙂

      • Meagan says:

        Ann,

        I agree!! We are a family of five, with 3 growing boys (11-15 years of age). I already feel like I feed them a ton, and I know that the more fresh fruit, veggies, and milk they see in the house, the more they eat!! They are allowed to eat fruits/veggies at any time without asking (they have to ask or be offered up for candy and carb-rich snacks) and it seems the more food is available the more they eat. But, I refuse to discourage them from healthy eating, and you don’t always know when a growth spurt is about to hit.

      • Kristine says:

        It wouldn’t work so well at our house either. The more I buy, the more my hubby eats. And I don’t have a big refrigerator or freezer or a cool place to keep unrefrigerated produce either, so I can’t do much stockpiling. I plan each week’s meals and then shop (mostly at Aldi) for what I need for that week and try to minimize extra items.

  • christine says:

    i’m a single adoptive & foster mom (all boys) with limited time for domestic endeavors. i typically shop once per month exception of staples like fruit, a few snack veggies, eggs, bread and milk. i buy bulk items every 4-6 months (depends on # of mouths i have at time) – cheeses & meats to prep&freeze, pb, paper goods, grains. we only use frozen veggies which are cheaper, and easier to prep than salad fixings with no sacrifice of flavor or nutrients. i recommend OAMS – initially it’s very overwhelming but the benefits are numerous. i personally had a hard time changing my mindset. There’s something very comforting about a full pantry, freezer. When it got low after that first month shop i had to resist making an extra shop to buy stuff to fill it.

  • This is so true. I am inspired to plan my trips more carefully now so that I don’t have to go as often. Thanks!

  • I would love to do bi-weekly shopping, but since we eat mostly fruits and veggies, we are at the store at least once, if not twice a week. I think this is a very good idea for non-perishables, and I may try planning my menu two weeks in advance to take advantage of this good idea inasmuch as possible. Thank you!

  • Michelle says:

    Up here in Canada (!!) we don’t have the same coupon opportunities available to most of you so we try to save money by menu planning, etc. I’ll give some more thought to by-weekly shopping (but am concerned about fridge space, as mentioned above!)

    One way we really keep our grocery bill in check is by shopping at a smaller, independant grocery store that ONLY offers groceries! Whenever I go into a “Superstore” (like WalMart) I end up spending more because there is more choice and more “things” (clothes, movies, hair accessories, etc.). Even if I think I’m “just picking up a little something” it all adds up.

    Less opportunity to impulse buy = more money in my pocket!!

    • Andrea Q says:

      I usually shop at a regional chain that carries mostly groceries and very few extras. Avoiding temptation saves money!

  • Kristi says:

    We are a family of 4, 2 adults, 1 toddler and 1 infant(9mo), but my kids eat meals like adults, my 9 mo old can down a kids meal at any restaurant and then some of mine. With that said…
    I make a meal plan for 16 days. i just write out what meals were going to have those 2 weeks, and buy everything but the fruit/veggies for the 2nd week. I freeze the meat/cheese/breads just to preserve them. it works out well for us. leftovers get planned for my husband to take to work the next day(or day after) for lunch.

    Sometimes i have a pampered chef party that i need to buy the ingredients for, so then i make the extra trip, but i know what i’ll need to buy either way and it eliminates that extra need to run out to get extra food:)

  • Melody says:

    Since we started getting our milk delivered earlier this year I’ve also stretched my grocery trips to every other week. Towards the end I do find I’m feeding the kids more fruit leather and frozen fruit or veggies, but it’s worth it! I also have cut our Costco trips way back- I go maybe every 3 months. In addition to that, I’ve almost stopped going to Target altogether, going maybe 4 times a year. If I don’t see it I’m so much less likely to buy it. I am saving SO MUCH MONEY, simply by avoiding the stores!

    • Andrea Q says:

      I decided not to renew my Costco membership. BJs has been sending out free 60-day passes regularly, so I find that I don’t even miss Costco.

  • Lisa says:

    Now that I live outside coupon land, I noticed my grocery budget quadrulped. It’s terrible. I think this idea might seriously help me as I learn completely new ways to save money! Thanks!!!

  • Meghan says:

    I’ve started grocery shopping only a few times a month also. I really do think it’s saving us money.

  • Katy T. says:

    We do a big shopping trip once a month. Costco for meats, TP, paper towels, baby wipes, and some fresh produce. Grocery store for everything else. We spend about $400.00 and only have a regular frezze and fridge, but frezze as much as we can. We buy a lot of box meals, and canned items. We plan about 25 meals for the month, some using fresh items (that we make in the first week or so) and some using frozen or canned.
    As for fruits and veggies. We buy some fresh fruit but buy mostly frozen steamers or canned veggies (partly cause I do not know how to cook veggies). We are aslo part of a farm co-op so we get fresh fruit and veggies each week starting at the end of May.
    I will make quick stops are the store for milk or fresh fruit during the month, but do not spend a lot.

  • Julie in IN says:

    We couldn’t fit all the fresh fruits and veggies we buy for 9 people in our fridge for two weeks; considering our snacks are on the menu each week (popcorn, smoothies, $.99 a pound bag of pretzel and homemade snack mix), shopping bi-weekly wouldn’t change our grocery budgeting a bit.

  • Nicole says:

    It’s interesting to see that so many people shop the week they get paid. For us, the opposite has worked better for us.
    My husband and I get paid monthly (on the 10th for me and the last day of the month for him), so toward the end of the month, when our mad money is running low and blowing the budget even a little isn’t going to happen, that’s when we go grocery shopping. Less money available makes impulse buying way less of a thought. (Not that an over-priced thing of Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t end up in our cart, but that’s way less frequent than it used to be!)
    And we shop together. It helps us stay accountable for sticking to the list.
    We’re big into grapes, apples, melon, brocolli, green beans and bagged salad. All of those things last a decent amount of time in the fridge.
    Family of four, one in diapers, and our “everything” trip (groceries, diapers, household stuff, health and beauty stuff) is about $200/month. About $150 during our big trip and $50 or so for farmers market, emergency milk runs, supplemental produce, etc.

    • Jessica says:

      we have a family of four and spend more than twice that! I also have one in diapers. please tell me how do you do this!?! do you coupon like crazy? I coupon for everything but I dont know what I’m doing wrong. I easily spend about 450 to 500 a month on Food HBA and baby
      I’m gonna have to try this shopping once every other week thing too..

  • Ale says:

    I meal plan for the month and that has saved me so much time and energy. I buy staples once a month and then fill in with fresh fruits, veggies, milk, bread every week. Of course there are days we stray from the plan, but who doesn’t? At least I know there is a plan for everyday. If I go alone to the store I stick to the list. Taking children with me is a huge distraction. I also go alone to Costco; those samples always suck my hubby in to buying something not on the list.

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