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Simple Saving Savvy: The Buy Ahead Principle

Simple Saving Savvy

Practicing Wise Stewardship & Blessing Others Out of Our Abundance

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Buy Ahead Principle

Guest post by Crystal at Money Saving Mom. The "buy ahead principle" she writes about is what I call stockpiling.

The Buy Ahead Principle: One of my biggest grocery saving secrets
Allison left the following comment on my picture of this week's $30 shopping trip:

"I've enjoyed reading this blog the past month or so since I've discovered it, and you've really helped me snag some good deals. And I think it's neat when you come home from the store with a pile of groceries for only a few dollars.

But every time I see the picture of your groceries, I wonder something like, "What is she going to cook for dinner with easy mac, salad dressing, and jello?"

Is this all the grocery shopping you do? Do you have a garden? Or raise your own beef? How do you round out your bargain purchases to get a meal on the table?"

One of my biggest secrets for grocery saving success is that I practice the Buy Ahead Principle. What's that, you ask?

Well, basically, other than dairy products and produce, I aim to never pay full price for anything. Instead, I stock up when an item is on sale to tide me over until the next sale.

For instance, in this shopping trip picture, you'll see that I mainly stocked up on cereal. In fact, I bought 16 boxes of cereal--enough to last us for at least 6 weeks, likely longer. Did we only eat cereal that week? No way! We ate a few boxes of cereal that week and the rest of what we ate mostly came from items I'd stocked up on during previous sales.

You see, because I stock up on items when they are on sale at my target price (providing I can afford it in our budget), my grocery shopping trips will usually look quite strange and will certainly not be the basis for a balanced menu. But you can check out some of our menus here to see that we do eat a fairly balanced diet. Well, at least we're certainly not subsisting on Easy Mac and Jell-O every meal!

How is it that we can eat a fairly balanced diet when I buy such an odd assortment of groceries each week? It's because the bulk of our meals are based upon what we already have in our refrigerator, pantry, and freezer.

To give you an idea of how this works, here's a rundown of our menu this week:

Breakfasts: Cereal or Kashi waffles and fruit (The cereal was from our big stock-up mentioned above, the waffles were purchased two weeks ago at Target for $0.29/box, and the fruit is from what we purchased this week and leftovers from last week.)

Lunches: Sandwiches or leftovers and carrots or fruit (I had lots of bread in the freezer I'd gotten for $0.50/loaf from Aldi last month and the peanut butter was from our pantry. My mom also gave us some extra lunch meat she had leftover from a lunch they served so we've used that, too. The carrots and fruit were purchased this week or leftover from last week's purchases.)

Dinners: We're eating meals from our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash paired with homemade bread from the freezer and frozen veggies from the freezer. All of the items in our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash were purchased within our usual grocery budget over the course of a few weeks' time as I had a little extra wiggle room in the budget or items were on sale.

Snacks: Fruit, cheese, crackers, granola bars, yogurt (The fruit, cheese, crackers, and yogurt were all purchased this week. The granola bars were from the pantry.)

When I plan the menu for the week, I first check out what we already have on hand. This gives me the inspiration for the majority of the menu. I then consult the sales fliers and my coupon box to decide what items are on sale and in-budget that I want (or need) to stock up on. I also add in any specific ingredients I need to round out a recipe or meal I've planned from the freezer and pantry ingredients.

For many people who are used to buying only what groceries you'll use in the next week, the concept of buying ahead can be mind-boggling. However, I highly recommend you at least give it a try as it can save you a great deal of money. In fact, I would estimate that we routinely save at least $30-$50 each week by doing so.

If this is a new concept for you, don't go out and spend $500 tomorrow trying to build up a stockpile. Instead, just designate a small percentage of your grocery budget each week to buying extra of those heavily-discounted items which you know you will use sometime in the next few months.

Slowly start to build up a stockpile of items you regularly use as you find them discounted by 50% or more with a sale and coupon. Over time, your stockpile will grow until you come to a point where you can begin to pretty much only buy items which are at rock-bottom prices, in addition to produce and perishable items.

Just by adopting the Buy Ahead Principle, you will see a significant savings in your grocery bill. And you'll likely be shopping less and eating better than ever before!

Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom is the wife of Jesse and mommy to three children (Kathrynne was born in 2005, Kaitlynn in 2007, and Silas--their first boy!--was born in May of 2009).



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