How Often Do You Go Grocery Shopping?

I have a pretty incredible streak in progress.

Normally I go grocery shopping once a week. That’s right about the time that I start to run out of the essentials: baby spinach, orange juice, milk, and chocolate.

As of right now, close to midnight on March 22, it’s been 16 days since I’ve been to the grocery store. My last visit was on March 6.

I have an odd sense of pride in this, and I think I know why: Each day I don’t go grocery shopping is a day I dive deeper into cooking with ingredients I already have, ingredients that I’d rather use than adding more food to the pile.

I take for granted that I have unlimited access to food. This is a chance for me to utilize all the food sitting on my shelf and in my freezer.

But one thing that came to mind as I was reveling in my streak (which will, admittedly, soon end) is that when I lived in Japan, I went grocery shopping almost every day, and it didn’t seem weird at all. I had a small fridge, and there were two grocery stores within a 1-minute walk.

Rather than plan ahead for food I might eat, I would simply stop in to buy the ingredients I knew for sure I would eat that night. And it allowed me to focus on fresh ingredients rather than risk food going bad after several days.

I’m curious what kind of approach you use. Do you buy in bulk? Do you buy for tonight? Or are your grocery store habits somewhere in between?

9 thoughts on “How Often Do You Go Grocery Shopping?”

  1. My 2 years in Europe were like what you describe – no fridge, bread only lasts a day – buy only what you need, but get it daily (with the exception of things like honey which kept well).
    With our family now, we try to only shop once a week with monthly bulk stock-up trips, but it seems 2 or 3 times a week there will be something the kids want/ need for lunches or a missing ingredient or some other unforseen need to return to the store.

  2. We live in the middle of nowhere and our shopping options are limited to Walmart or the commissary on base (where I’ll usually have to salute people, so we tend to avoid that). So, coupled with how “on the go” we are, we usually shop about twice a month with one of those times a big stock-up haul. I miss living in civilization where we could do a quick trip once a week or so and would love if I could just walk down the street, grab tonight’s dinner supplies, and be done with it.

  3. Jamey,

    Years ago, when I was stationed in England, I had an almost exact shopping experience to you. My home had a small fridge (but actually a larger freezer), and I stopped-in every 2-3 days to buy what I needed for the next 2-3 days. Upon returning to the U.S., I discovered these “bulk” oriented stores…BJ’s Warehouse, Costco, etc. and was intrigued about who would buy in such bulk.

    Flash forward now almost 20 years and I don’t have a regular pattern of shopping, but a pattern of shopping which matches my life at particular moments. For instance, when my daughter is with me for two weeks, I’m visiting Costco, as I love to cook fish, and I can buy a lot of it cheaper than purchasing the same volume at Giant or Harris Teeter. If I’m with my girlfriend, we’ll stop at the Asian Mart and she’s particularly adept at “pantry cooking” whereby she can find just about anything that I have in my pantry (broadly defined to include freezer, fridge, or other shelves) and make a delicious meal. I’m fairly proficient in the kitchen, but she’s like Iron Chef good. Otherwise, when neither of the ladies in my life are with me, I’ll stop into the store on a Sunday with a plan for the next week’s worth of meals…to include leftovers (they’re simply the best!)


  4. When I go to the grocery story, I stock up on about a week’s worth of food. However, I don’t necessarily go back exactly a week later, but rather I wait until my fridge is almost empty to go. I force myself to make meals with whatever I have left, and sometimes it leads to new discoveries.

    One that is definitely worth trying—and that was recently discovered because of this —is this:

    – Fry up two to three different vegetables in coconut oil (for example, half an onion, a large carrot, and a good amount of collard greens)
    – Once well cooked and wilted for the greens—about 10 minutes—add 2-3 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil and a third of a can of regular (not light) coconut milk with a little bit of water to add more liquid.
    – Let cook for another minute or two. Add salt and pepper, turn off heat, and serve in a deep yet narrow bowl. Eat with a spoon to be able to get all that tasty liquid in every bite.

    It gives a soup consistency, and I have been making one of these almost everyday for the past few weeks.

  5. Over the last several months I started really planning out my grocery store trips because I’m so pressed for time during the week. I sit down on Friday night or Saturday morning and make a comprehensive meal plan for the week, taking into consideration what will give me leftovers for lunch the next day and which recipes share ingredients that I can buy once and use multiple times.

    I even have a spot below each day where I note if I have to take out anything to thaw for the next night’s dinner, and a spot at the very bottom to put down ideas for the next week if I have any ingredients that I didn’t completely use up. I literally made my own spreadsheet for this because I couldn’t find one that met all the needs I wanted. Also because I am a giant nerd.

    Then, everything that I need for those meals goes on my shopping list, plus an extra snack or two for weekends.

    It’s made my life so much easier! I spend less money and we waste a lot less food than before. There are certain nights of the week that we get home late because of after-school activities, so I always plan for that with recipes I know I can make quickly or something that has been cooking in the crockpot all day and is ready when we walk in the door at night. Also, RIP to my crockpot which broke yesterday. 🙁 On the plus side, now I’m going to get one of those programmable ones to take my crockpotting to the next level. I know I’m getting old when I get excited about crockpots!

    Anyway, the planning takes maybe 20 minutes a week at most and has saved me so much stress wondering what I’m going to cook on any given night or making last minute trips to the store, which I hate. If I had a store a little closer or within a short walking distance, I would probably shop more frequently, but it’s such a hassle with the way it is now.

    • Katie: I’m glad to hear you found a method that works so well for you! And congrats on taking the crockpot to the next level. 🙂

  6. We tend to do grocery shopping 2-3 times a week, but we don’t have a car so that severely limits the quantity of stuff you can get. Also one of us doesn’t handle the local butcher’s well, the other doesn’t handle supermarkets well, so shopping as a couple doesn’t tend to work for us but instead if we need meat I go if we need supermarket he goes. While if we need stuff that can be gotten without doing either butcher or supermarket it could be either of us that goes.


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