shopping for meals vs shopping for staples

October 14th, 2008

Shopping For Meals Vs Shopping For Staples

A comment on a previous post, which I cannot at the moment find (edit:  Mandi emailed me to let me know it was her on this post) mentioned how they follow the idea of meal planning out of their pantry vs out of circulars, because they shop in a way that they know they’ve spent the least amount possible for everything in their pantry.  They buy items when they are the least expensive, and then look to their pantry and what they have stocked to decide what to make that week for meals.

This is exactly what my goal is with the unit price comparison shopping I discussed yesterdayI stock up on items when they are on sale so that I never “have” to buy those items when they are at full price.  A simple concept but one it has taken me a long while to catch onto and effectively put into practice.

Our grocery list used to have 25-30 items on it every week.   Last week, before I added the sale/stock up items, the number of items on the list we needed to buy was 7.  Milk, grapes, apples, cheese, yogurt, potatoes, and wheat pitas.    I bought more things than that, because I bought a number of items on sale paired with coupons (I always enjoy Mini-Wheats cereal for $0.50 per box).  But the list of things we were out of and needed was only 7.  This is my goal.  Buy what’s on sale, and what is perishable and needs to be replaced weekly, and plan my meals based on what I have stocked.  And I stocked up on potatoes this week.

And then maybe once everything is stocked up – buy some chocolate.  :)

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10 Responses to “Shopping For Meals Vs Shopping For Staples”

  1. This is the way I shop. I fill my pantry by shopping sales, adding whatever is on sale at the time, and buying in as large a quantity as I can afford (or need) at the time. So instead of making out a menu plan, then going shopping, I do it the other way around. I shop the sales, then make meal plans from items in my own “store.” I do have to fill in a bit here and there sometimes – there are some items that never seem to go on sale – but not often. I don’t mind being patient. I also like always feeling prepared, even if we have unexpected company or bad weather, etc.

  2. i had one of those weeks as well. i already had all the meat i need for this week’s dinners, and almost all of the other things. can’t remember how many items i bought, but it was mostly produce and dairy.

  3. I am trying to get to the point of eating mostly from the pantry and need to remember to buy 1 stock up item per week to get there.

    Thanks for your gentle reminders of how to live well on less.

  4. You’ve learned, which is all that matters. I totally agree with you – except chocolate first.

  5. This is exactly what I do too. I use Grocery Game to stock my pantry as well as sometimes Sams club or Aldi. The idea is that you have 2 parts to your shopping list–the needs–like your 7 items and the deals–things that you will stock up for later. My deals list this week is longer than the needs list. The needs list is 10 items–only one is a food/beverage item.

    I need some oddball stuff like shoestrings for hubby’s work shoes and vacuum cleaner belts.

    My ‘deals’ list is from a couple different stores I’m getting about 20 things at one and a dozen at another, as well as 5 or 6 items at the drug store when I pick up my RX’s. Some of that stuff will be part of Christmas gifts & some halloween candy.

  6. Here’s a tip: Since my job/workplace gets the daily newspaper, we have implemented a process of pulling out the coupon flyers first and setting them in a designated area in the breakroom so people can browse through them when they get a chance and pull out the ones they will use that week. On Mondays, most people bring in their Sunday coupons they didn’t use and set them out for other people to use. Teamwork frugality!

  7. I buy most of my groceries when they are on sale and plan around what’s on hand. A great website for using up what you have on hand is Just type in what you have and up pop recipes using those items! Great!

    As my cupboards/freezer are well stocked, I could probably go a year on what’s in them. So I rarely ‘run out’ of something I need as there’s usually a back up already in place.

  8. If you watch the sales at Walgreen, stack coupons (manufacturer & store) & take advantage of the monthly rebates, you should be able to stock up on chocolate as well. ;)

  9. I try to shop along these lines and we try to cook with what we have as much as possible. Still need some practice though. It is always fun for me to try and put together something from the stockpile to have a decent dinner.

  10. Hey, you’re making progress and that’s a great thing. :)

    I plan most of our meals around what we have on hand rather than what’s in the flyers and do it for the same reason as Mandi. Rarely do we buy more expensive items not on sale so just about everything we have was purchased at rock bottom price and purchased in a decent quantity, making meal planning from the pantry quite easy and thrifty.