How To Plan Your Stock-Up Grocery Trips

How to I plan

Click away from this blog if you LIKE running out of toilet paper! Still here? That’s what I thought… No one likes to be caught without their essential household staples! The problem is that it can be hard to really stock up on these essentials when sometimes they end up being the most expensive things on the grocery list. I mean, it can cost upwards of $20 for just detergent! This is why it’s important to stock up when you can, and why I love to shop at places like Costco and Sam’s Club.

But the problem I was having with shopping wholesale was even with what felt like a ‘pretty good’ list, I would walk into these places and before I knew it, I was spending almost $400 on junk food and what I hoped to be enough grocery items to get us through the month. When I say I’m mostly writing to the younger version of myself and hoping that this information helps other people, I mean it! I wasn’t planning well enough, I wasn’t looking at all the sales before going into the store and I wasn’t really planning out how much of what products I needed to get me through a few months at a time for our household essentials.

How to I plan (1)

7 Steps to a better stock up list:

  1. Make a list of what items you want to stock up on. It doesn’t always make sense to stock up on 10 loaves of bread for a small family that hardly ever eats bread. Even if it’s a good deal, it’s not a good buy for you. Just like it doesn’t seem really necessary for a single person who doesn’t even have pets to stock up on 3 jugs of detergent. It’ll take them over a year to go through it, it’s not that genius of a stock up purchase. What items make sense for you to buy in bulk and what items are you always adding to your grocery list that hike up the budget and that you’ll use often? These are what you want to stock up on first. For us, this was detergent, fabric softener (we bought two of each), toilet paper, kleenex, disinfectant, dishwasher tabs, and body wash. I knew the quantities I bought wouldn’t last us a year (I’m working up to figuring out how much I need to buy to get to that point) but most of these items should last us around 6 months. We also included food in this list with things like syrup (two jugs of this syrup lasts us a year and stays good for that whole year) Fruit snacks and things that don’t have a super short life expectancy. We do buy fruit and veggies from Sam’s Club but buy what you’ll eat before it goes bad. Refer back to this list that you’ve made and as you buy things from the list mark what date you bought them so that you’ll have a better idea of how long each product lasts you.
  2. Check prices online. I check the regular price of items before I even leave the house. I will be able to calculate what my total will be, and then I see if I can add extra items to my list and stock up even more, or if I need to remove items to keep my budget on track.
  3. Make your regular grocery list first to see how much room is in your budget. Make your grocery list and write next to it the price you expect to pay. It’s okay to estimate, it’s okay to have your final totals be a little off after all is said and done. This is just to help you gauge what you are going to spend on your groceries. With practice, you will get very good at this, since you probably buy similar things for each trip. You may notice this if you follow me on Instagram where I post my grocery list every two weeks, I always put estimated totals next to each item. Add these up to gauge your final total. From there, just subtract this total from your grocery budget and the difference is what you have to spend on stock up items (be sure to leave yourself some extra cash for milk and things you might forget in between grocery days).
  4. Purchase what’s on sale. I’m always keeping tabs on what items from this stock up list of mine go on sale. That way when I’m headed to the store and I’m planning what items I need to buy, I will be able to get the things on sale too. It just makes more sense when you’re able to save, and helps you build a better grocery budget when you know exactly what you’re going pay.
  5. Keep track of what you’re running low on. Keep a list on the fridge, keep a list on your phone, in your planner, add the items to cart in the app as you go, so that you can just purchase them when it’s grocery day. Keep an eye on anything your running low on, even if it’s just a regular grocery item. You can also keep these items in your master grocery list so you remember to check your quantities when you’re making your shopping list. Pick whichever method works best for you and your family.
  6. Make room to store your access items. This is the hardest part for me. While this house is bigger than any home I’ve ever lived in, it lacks in the storage department. The basement can be a good choice, but our’s is more of a cellar area that we have to go outside to access. I changed up our organization in the bathroom to be able to store cleaning products and toiletries really well, but I’m still working on how to store the access food we stock up on. That’s why most of our stock up items right now aren’t really food items. You need a place to store all of the extra things you’ll be bringing in from stocking up!
  7. Keep an eye on expiration dates and rotate your food items! If you’re stocking up on food, even if it’s food that has a longer shelf life, always take an extra two minutes and rotate your food. Put the things you just bought to the back of the shelf, and the food you already had in front. Otherwise, you’ll have food that you could have eaten, that you spent good money to stock-up on, that you can no longer safely eat. This is a huge problem people have with throwing out food that they never even touched! There’s no point in stocking up if it becomes a waste, so keep an eye on expiration dates and make sure you eat the older food first!

This can seem like a lot of steps, but once you read through and follow these steps, it’s not much-added work than you already hopefully spend on a good grocery list. And it really is worth the extra time and even the initial extra money that it costs to start stocking up! As you stock up on these items you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see your grocery bill shrink from week to week when you’re not needing to buy as much of these everyday essentials, leaving you more room in your grocery budget to stock up even more! Or just save the difference for a rainy day!

Until next time friends!

–Ashley

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