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Se7en + 1 Grand Old Truths About Grocery Shopping…

June 3rd, 2014 · 18 Comments

It’s a new month and so many folks have asked me, this month, how on earth we feed a family of ten as the price of food goes up and up and up… and the easy answer is we plot and plan a fair bit. To be honest shopping is about my worst activity ever. I hate all the decision making and it is not just the number of products available that leaves me overwhelmed, it is the “specials” that completely floor me: When you want to buy a handful of tomatoes and you are faced with rows and rows of “Buy Two Bags and get the Third Bag Free” or “Buy These Four Bags and A Bunch of Carrots then only pay for Two.” The point is the option I was after, a handful of tomatoes, say, is hardly ever an option in the “specials department.” That being said, the father person does most of our shopping, he is far better at assessing and seeing through a pricing scam than I am. When I do shop I have a good idea of what I am after before I go into the store, and I don’t waver from my list.


Grocery Shopping Cons That We Believe

  1. Keep Your Store-Cupboard Lean: I am not a celebrity chef and I don’t need to keep a list of fundamental ingredients at hand. I like to finish what we have before we buy more. There is nothing worse than adding a new bag of apples to the apple bowl, if there are still two apples lingering from the previous expedition. Those two remaining apples will never get eaten and I refuse to waste food. Also, I can see no reason for storing kilograms of dry goods. For example rice, or like a student friend of mine that always had cans and cans of tuna, I don’t need to store extra stock. There is a perfectly good store cupboard five minutes walk away from home in the form of a supermarket.
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  3. No Need To Stockpile: We don’t live on the prairies, three days drive from the nearest stall… we are in fact very urban and not five minutes away from us not one but two supermarkets. When we stayed overseas, just before we had kids, our kitchen was literally the size of a newspaper… the fridge no bigger than a toaster. You had to buy everything fresh everyday and only what you needed for the day. We liked that and we pretty much live like that now. The store is our pantry, if we need eggs then we buy them, or lemons for that matter. Otherwise we don’t… there is no use always having a bowl of fruit stacked on the table if nobody eats it. When my husband traveled for work we used to shop for the month, it was easier to do one shop together. He doesn’t travel anymore and there is no need for us to shop in advance.
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  5. Buy Bulk and Definitely Don’t Save: This is a little marketing trick that has filtered into all areas of shopping… we have been so well trained into thinking that if you buy the larger product it will naturally be better, and of course so much cheaper. Time and time again we have found this not to be the case at all… really it is often the small packages that end up significantly cheaper per unit price. And as for the huge signs saying “SALE PRICE” splashed all over a product, very often the adjacent product with a lot less drama is the more economical choice. You have to be vigilant and keep an eye on prices.
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  7. Stay Away From Sales: This might seem a little counterintuitive… but generally on sales they are selling products that are end of the run, or things that nobody wanted to buy anyway. Trust me you don’t want to buy it either. You do not need 100 markers that have already run dry, you do not need ten pairs of gym socks because they are on special… especially if you only go to gym twice a week. But what if I went more often, you don’t… keep it honest and leave the socks. Banish all the “What if’s” or “Just in case…” voices in your head. If you have a list when you go to the store I can almost guarantee that nothing on that list will be on the sale table… basically they are getting you to buy stuff that you never wanted or needed to begin with.
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  9. Compare Prices in Store and from Store to Store: Have a good idea about what things cost… we basically shop in three grocery stores and when we are in one we will look at the price of an item… then when we visit the next store and we look at the prices again and we can see if it is a better deal or not. If you are consistent with this you will begin to get a good feel for prices and you will know when one store is charging an unnecessarily high price or not. Just recently butter went up by 25% across the board in all stores… we stopped buying it, and noticed as soon as the price came down in one of the stores… you do need to get a feel for prices.
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  11. Anything Processed Costs More: We don’t buy anything processed. When friends popped in for a soup lunch the other day, they mentioned how quick and easy it was to just heat the bag… no it takes us a little longer to peel our butternuts but then we pop them in the pot and twenty minutes later their is a tasty pot of soup. It takes half an hour to heat and eat frozen chips from the freezer… but if you make potato wedges it takes literally five minutes to slice a couple of potatoes and half an hour later your own potato wedges are made. Why would I pay so much more for potatoes that have been sliced in the store and take just as long to cook as the ones I start from scratch?
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  13. Take-Outs Aren’t Quicker or Healthier: I just can’t give take-outs a place in our budget. The price of a a small serving of say, chicken and chips… times ten (for all of us) and you don’t even have to add in a soda… is way more expensive than going serving the entire family steak and salad. Not to mention, you have no idea what is in that package that is allegedly “chicken and chips.” Even take-outs that appear to be healthier… that fruit juice from the gym food bar… well I could by two litres of pure fruit juice for the same price from the store, without all the added sugar, not to mention filling the cup with ice-cubes first. Take-outs just don’t make any economical sense, ever.
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    And the Se7en + 1th:

  15. Rise to the Challenge: When we enter a store we look like a marketers dream… a mother with eight kids is bound to have someone in need of a snack, or someone who can’t resist demanding for all the eye-catching treats at the check out. I have trained my kids to be vigilant in looking for marketing tricks… things in the store that make them want to buy products that they don’t need, that were never on their shopping list anyway. Piles of candy at the till… my kids know that they are being conned… pre-wrapped, pre-packaged anything is bound to be some sort of trick into getting you to part with your hard-earned cash. Master the art of spotting these cons and teach your kids to look out for them… if your kids are like mine they will love looking out for a con and will especially enjoy finding one and telling you all about it.

Hope that helps ease the pain of grocery shopping… just a little bit!!!


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Tags: Monday Munchies · Organizing Se7en

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marcia (123 blog) // Jun 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

    What gorgeous, bright, happy photos 🙂

    There is something in the air all right since I just did a wrap-up too. And no, I don’t consciously stock-pile either. It has happened a bit in the past, like when D did online shopping for a bit. He’d keep buying the same things and I’d have 6 packets of pasta and 12 cans of tomatoes. And then I put a stop to it.

    BTW I want to try your tomato sauce…
    Marcia (123 blog)´s last blog post ..{Let’s talk money} Grocery shopping wrap-up

  • 2 Laura // Jun 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I had to laugh at the sales! My husband is a SALES dream. He gets it from his mom – he will buy the pens and tell me how much he saved – lol – which is rubbish because we didn’t need the pens :))

    I am pretty vigilant now and my PnP has those little per kg/unit amounts on the prices so it’s all worked out nicely – I check that rather than the specials.

    I do stock pile washing powder. It is really the only thing that I do because when it is on sale it is often at a crazy price.

    I meal plan and buy according to that so our grocery cupboard is bare each month 🙂
    Laura´s last blog post ..Excess

  • 3 Irene // Jun 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    i really hate the buy one-get one free scam. How needs two shirts when one will do? or even better hte buy two get one free scam (often found at clicks). Why would I need three of the same and spend double what I wanted to spend in the first palce?

  • 4 Tammy // Jun 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Great post. X

  • 5 se7en // Jun 4, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Hay Marcia, That was a great round up of your series. The only thing we do buy extra of is Woolies fab deals of vegetables, once or twice a month we buy the three for two: potatoes, onions, carrots; sweet potatoes, butternut and tomatoes. They are such good quality and they last us well.
    Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy our tomato sauce, we make it all the time – it’s a staple to so many dishes. Toss it over pasta, have it with spaghetti sauce or now in the winter as soup… Hope you enjoy it!!! And have a good week.

  • 6 se7en // Jun 4, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Hi there Laura, Oh those SALES… packed with things we just don’t need!!! I know I spend my shopping time examining the unit prices tags at the grocery store… I am so weary of bargains, but I did notice the laundry liquid soap was really reasonable the other day. We use a bottle every six weeks so buying two bottles will take us through to the Spring! We also plan our meals pretty carefully and so we know what to buy on which day… Thanks so much for stopping by and hope you have a great week!!!

  • 7 se7en // Jun 4, 2014 at 2:06 am

    Hay Irene… exactly that… who needs two shirts when you are actually looking for one… and then you feel like you should get the second shirt because you have “paid for it” – aaahhh. Don’t even talk about toiletries… a bottle of shampoo lasts us at least a month… where on earth would I keep all the extra “stock”? I think perhaps while shops have changed and everything is so available to us, we haven’t changed our mindset, we are still shopping in the era where “we might not be able to get to the store.” It just seems so unnecessary to spend so much time buying stuff we just don’t need and then more time figuring out how and where to store it… Clearly shopping is not my favorite past time at all!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

  • 8 se7en // Jun 4, 2014 at 2:06 am

    Thanks Tammy… And I hope you guys are surviving this wild and stormy weather!!! Have a fabulous week…

  • 9 C // Jun 4, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Loved this! And that bread section makes me so jealous! Not at all like what you find at most stores in the states. I just have to give a little shoutout for food storage/stock piling. I can’t tell you how many times our food storage has saved us when my husband was furloughed and not getting paid or he was between jobs or a big expense came up and it was a blessing to not worry about the food budget. Or a friend whose mom was a single parent. She would buy an extra can of food at the store and keep it stored. She was let go from work and it took a month for her to find a new job. They didn’t have to worry about food because she had prepared. It isn’t convenient to store and you have to be creative if you don’t have a dedicated space for it, but it can definitely be a blessing when life throws you an curveball, you know? 🙂

  • 10 se7en // Jun 4, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Hay C, That is a very good reason for stockpiling… I completely agree. I have also found in dire situations friends do rally round a lot, just as we help friends in need so they have helped us. And if there is such a disaster that not one of us could not get to the store to buy dinner or the next day’s breakfast then I fully intend to call a friend, any friend and ask for help. I consider it a great opportunity when friends ask us for help… And I can’t tell you how many times we have been rescued, and blessed beyond our dreams by people we don’t even know. Hope you have a wonderful week and thank you so much for stopping by.

  • 11 Sam // Jun 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for this post, I’ve been loving all these shopping and budget posts of late. I have come to learn that I am SO wasteful and am spending WAY too much on my groceries every month.

    I would be MOST interested to hear what your monthly grocery spend amounts to IF you are willing to share this information…

    Sam´s last blog post ..Today you’re THREE!

  • 12 se7en // Jun 6, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Hi Sam, I have also enjoyed these posts… great minds think a like and there were a bunch of good posts out on this topic lately. I don’t think my hubs would be too thrilled if I shared our finances on the internet… but I can say we spend a lot less than most of our friends and friends with much smaller families, just buying food from scratch makes a huge difference to our food bill. When you have so many mouths to feed you literally have to watch every single penny. Wishing you the best weekend and thank you so much for stopping by!!!

  • 13 MrsFF // Jun 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    I am learing so much from all these posts about shopping and getting some useful tips!.

    Hubby and I were talking about the that is called bulk buying this morning!!!! Seriously in that massively big store (that we shall not name, that starts with the M and sells lots of bulk) I learnt that bulk doesn’t always mean cheap. I generally buy what we need but stockpile on detergent and toilet rolls. I think I only buy them once a year when they have crazy specials on them and that is it.
    MrsFF´s last blog post ..Yoghurt Oatmeal Muffins…

  • 14 se7en // Jun 6, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Mrs FF, Yes that massive store, where you drive for miles to buy the one special special… and blow an entire month’s budget on things that you didn’t “know you needed!!!” But there is another one much closer to every home. with blue and white stripes, that I expected much better of… silly me. We first spotted it with wet-wipes of all things, the tiny travel ones were far cheaper than the huge double pack “buy bulk and save” … now it is everywhere: sugar, cereal, rice… everything. You have to have to check the unit price of things… and so shopping takes ten times longer. Hope you have a great weekend!!!

  • 15 Katja // Jun 22, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Great post!

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  • 17 Marcia (123 blog) // Jun 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Still love this post a year later 🙂
    Marcia (123 blog)´s last blog post ..Be the first to cheer and speak life

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