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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cherry Pick or Monthly Haul? Your Two Cents Please!


I've been thinking lately... is it cheaper to cherry pick or do one big monthly haul?

I've had luck doing both. We live about 30 minutes (one way) from the grocery store. So, we definitely have to factor in gas consumption. And, there is always the the factor of time... your time is valuable.

We used to always shop once a month and do a major haul. It was quite comical actually! We always got strange looks and my husband and I would laugh on the way out that the checker probably thought we had a ton of children at home! Shopping once a month seemed to make the most sense for us and started because I am a teacher and I get paid once a month. I always felt like we did really good. Mainly, because this meant we stayed out of the store and didn't purchase a lot of impulse buys. The truth is the more you visit the store the more impulse buys you tend to purchase. We did stop maybe one more time a month to purchase milk or bread or we would purchase these at the gas station.

Then, when I started couponing we still continued to shop monthly. We did even better!

Then, when my husband started working I started cherry picking. There are a couple of stores between the school where I work and my house. So, gas really isn't an issue, we pass them any way. My mom and I stop occasionally and cherry pick togehter since we ride togehter. Since my husband gets paid weekly I have a little cash to cherry pick when the prices are REALLY low and I have a coupon match. I feel like I get a lot of great buys cherry picking because I can get items for nearly nothing and sometimes even FREE!

I'm no mathematician, and frankly I haven't had the time or motivation to figure out which one has been more cost effective. I would love to hear what you do and for you to chime in with your two cents! Which is smarter, one stop shopping or cherry pickin'?

39 Comments:

Freelancebyu.com said...

I do 2 runs a month and cherry pick to add to my stockpile! (I hope this makes sense?) but I resist the urge to do it ALL and only do what is REASONABLE and go to CVS, WALGREENS, RITE AID, etc all on the same day and CHERRY PICK! it would have to be EXTRAORDINARY to get me to spend the gas money to do more than 2x per month!

Coupon Mommie said...

Cherry Pickin indeed!
I'm in somewhat of the same boat as you. I average 15-20 miles away from Kroger, Walmart, CVS & Walgreens. The driving times range from 20 to 30 minutes because of all the back country roads I live on. So I feel the gas concern!
I was an avid once per month shopper for years and loved it. However, I've only been couponing for a short time now and I have started to go every week and LOVE it. I wouldn't change back to my monthly shopping again as I am able to cherry pick the clearance and markdowns more often.
I scavange the grocery store for really cheap things I can stockpile and typically only have a few grocery list needs.
Grocery shopping also used to feel like a once per month burden and now it is a weekly adventure! :)

Laina said...

I have found cherry picking is great for me but I live and work in range of several Wags, Rite Aid, Target and WalMart. Being able to go any time I have been able to ONLY get what is super cheap or free which has really helped me save at places I used to overspend at like Target. But you have to learn to let some deals go when you are busy no matter how many freebies are around time is precious too.

Kristen said...

I guess I do a little of both. I typically search over the weekly ads and make my decision then. If one store has enough to keep the house running and items to stock up on, I'll do the one stop. However, if there is only a few items here and there at each store, I cherry pick. Most of my shopping is close to home, so gas isn't an issue for me, but I could see why that might be something to factor in.

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

Since I live close to four or five grocery stores I like to cherry pick at the big chains and do stock ups at Aldi and Save A Lot. What saves me the most money is planning my trips, writing a list and having my coupons ready for the store.

Carey said...

I shop once a week, every week - usually on Tuesday mornings. My schedule is too erratic that it's hard for me to plan more than a week ahead (as far as when we'll be home to cook, etc). I also like to buy and cook with a lot of fresh produce. Shopping monthly would mean having to run out anyway for fresh fruits and veggies that won't last the month. I still save a ton at a budget of only $35a week for two.

Tia said...

Like many already said I do both. I shop 2x a month for my major shopping and I will cherry pick great deals throughout the month the great deals that make things pennies or free. I work near a lot of stores so Cherry pickin is my lunch time activity a lot.

Nancy M. said...

I do most of it at one time, but I do supplement with a few small trips for milk and bread, or whatever I have forgotten.

BG said...

I tend to do a big monthly haul on meat when it is on sale super cheap and weekly trips for the rest of my groceries. Once I have a sales ad I can base my meals for the week on what meat I have available and what other things are on sale for the week.

Sue Crocker said...

When I was a military wife, we shopped every two weeks. When I started couponing, I went twice a week. Wednesday to catch the new sales, and Tuesday to pick up what was on sale a second time if needed.

These days, Saturdays and Tuesdays.

Holley V said...

I seem to always have a weekly trip to Walmart for non-coupon items that we always get. Then I'll check the ads, print out a list of deals, and go throughout the week to the other grocery stores and WAGS. Like Carey said, our weeks are so erratic, too, that I can't even plan a week's worth of meals without it changing. So I have "staples" on hand and try to be creative. :)

Angela said...

I make one trip a month and then I only cherry pick if there is sale at a nearby store (rite aid is one street down) that I can get free or nearly free stuff after coupons.

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that I do both about equally.
When I find a really great price on a stockpiling item, I buy the amount we will use in about 6 months to a year, depending on what we need and the price.
As for cherry pickin'...I do this too. I check the weekly sales and pick and choose which things to buy before going to the stores. Our local stores are located very close together, so gas consumption isn't really an issue.
Every so often, I find a great buy that I didn't know about in advance. I keep extra funds aside for this kind of "surprise" situation.
Thanks you for your site, Denise! I am really enjoying your insights and tips.:)
Joyce

Janet said...

I guess my answer is a little of both. I go to Kroger once week for my main grocery shopping. Then I shop Walgreens, CVS, Target, etc. when I see a deal on something that's too good to pass up. I try to do my shopping all in one morning but if I'm not very organized I'll do the Kroger shop one day and any cherry picking deals on another day. This week I shopped at 4 stores in one morning but some weeks Kroger is it for me.

That Girl Who Likes To Go, Go, Go said...

I think whichever one you do with a commitment to saving will be the best for you.

Erin said...

I have two little kids, 3 and 1, and they are CRAZY in the stores so I do one BIG shopping trip by myself at the beginning of the month where I buy most of our food for the month and then I go once every week or week in a half with my kids to just get the basic cheese, milk, fruit, and veggies. That way I'm only in the store with my kids for a very small amount of time. It works really well for us because it's hard for me to go to the store without my kids, my hubby is in school and working, so because we do our big grocery shopping once I only need to be in the store for 5 or 10 minutes with my screaming kids by myself!


Erin
iamfrugal.blogspot.com

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

We're trying something new this month: one big shopping day (at Sam's club and Henry's Marketplace) followed by a day of cooking. I did this last weekend and now have 12 pre-made meals in my freezer. With leftovers and a couple of add-ins, this should last us a month of suppers. I'm still planning to go to Vons (just down the street from us) 2 or 3 times in the month to pick up good deals and perishables such as milk and fruit. Other than that, I do a CVS run each week because I get good deals and because that is my hobby. :)

I'm attempting to do it this way because I just can't shop at three or four stores every week (like I used to before kids!) Now I have three children, ages 3, 1, and 3 months, and the time trade-off is just too much. So I'm aiming to keep our budget low, but also keep our time commitment low. Not sure if it can be done, but we're sure trying! :)

DW said...

I'm probably doing a bit of both. I do my 'big shop' once a month to every six weeks at Aldis and WalMart to pick up basics. The rest of the time I cherry pick and coupon at our other local supermarkets (especially for meat)

Lora @ Our Screaming Pennies said...

I used to shop every two weeks, but now that I'm couponing and shopping the sales, I go every week. I also have a Walgreens half a block away, so sometimes I'll go there several times a week (on good weeks like this week). I have very small children (2 kids under 21 months), so it's very hard for me to consolidate everything into one trip since they get cranky quickly while we're out.

Kristin, Alabama said...

I think both work together. You can stock up on your meats, and other fruits and products that you don't often have coupons for on a monthly basis. Then, cherry pick each week to get the best deals for other products that you can match with a coupon that might be cheaper than when you did your monthly run. This way you can often get a ton of free stuff, such as tooth paste, shampoo and other products when they are at their cheapest. Never pay for toothpaste!

sabakose said...

I'm a cherry picker, but I live just a half mile from my Kroger, and we often walk there just to grab a deal or 2. We're only about 5-10 driving minutes to a Walmart, 2 Targets and 3each CVS/Wags ... I LOVE our convenience! :-)

Seriously, I could never do a one big haul a month as I really enjoy going to the store, so I would be sad to not go every week. Course, that could also be b/c my kind DH watches the kids for me when I shop, so it's also my often needed alone time. :-)

Kate said...

I actually just posted on this. I love to do a big monthly shopping trip. For my family, it's definitely a money saver. It keeps us from impulse purchases.

I've found that the best thing for me is that it forces me to stick to my budget, mean plan properly, and be accountable for my purchases. I make freezer meals during the first week after our trip so that I don't waste any produce or other things that might go bad. I don't have a deep freeze either, so my organizational skills have certainly improved!

I do think it's all about discipline and making your chosen method work best for you though. For us, monthly shopping keeps our budget under $350 for a family of 6. I'm sure it would be higher if I had to shop more often.

Mommy Managing said...

I'm a cherry picker, for sure! I shop a few times a week at any and all of the good stores. It seems like a never-ending cycle. Sundays--I hit up the drugstores and maybe Target for the new sales. Tuesday--I go to the grocery stores before they change the ad (and hopefully with new Q's from the Sunday paper). Wednesday--Back to the grocery stores with their new ad. Saturday--One more run to the drugstores before their ad changes. Then you gotta factor in the end of the month stuff at CVS & WAGS and expiring coupons! After that, you gotta get on the new monthly deals before they sell out! Luckily, I have a great radius of stores all around me.

Brandy said...

Honestly we are so low on cash lately that I have not gone shopping in a few weeks now. Just sent hubby down to store to get whatever we could afford cheap for dinner the night of. But normally when I budget correctly I go shopping once a week with all three kids alone! It's way easier than shopping once a month with three kids.

Milk Donor Mama said...

For me, I shop weekly and cherry pick the loss leaders along with the milk/eggs/bread and produce that I need. It's me, DH, and our 2 year old DD plus two cats at home. I live about 3 minutes from Meijer, about 5 from Kroger, 10 from Giant Eagle, 15 from Walmart, Sam's Club and Target along with some independent, natural, and other stores in my city (Columbus Ohio). So getting to the store is not an issue for me. We've always done this and it works for us.

However, for those who live far away from their stores, or if you really have a LOT of storage space, I can see how once per month big shopping and then once a week gas station for milk/bread might work.

shopannies said...

I shop 2 times a month and then hit the sale items on the 2 weeks where I do not shop

Ren said...

I shop every week which works quite well for us, as long as I bring a list and stick to it. I would love to be able to stock pile and cut it down to once a month, but we have a very small kitchen with no pantry so it's more efficeint the way we do it. I've done the math and as long as I use coupons and go with the sales we spend about the same amount as we would if we shopped just once.

MJ said...

I'm lucky to live within 5 minutes of Jewel and Walgreens. I also drive by a CVS on my way to my weekly Bible study. So, I cherry pick each of those stores every week. I also go to Meijer every week, which is about 20 minutes away. I would probably only go there occasionally, but a friend and I shop together because it's the only time we can find to hang out (how sad is that?!). So for me, cherry picking is the way to go. But if it's a long drive to shop, cherry picking may not be the best. If I were you, I'd figure out how much gas it costs to get to the store. Take that times your normal gas price (around here $2/gallon would be fair) and then times 3 (the number of extra trips a month if you cherry pick). Then you'll have an idea how much you'd have to save to make it worthwhile to cherry pick.

Saving 4 My Family said...

I usually do a weekly haul, "Weekly Grocery Savings" Trip on Friday. I pick a day that my husband is home so I can leave the babes' behind so I can have about 2 hours to myself to shop at 2-Grocery stores, Fruit Market, and 1-Drugstore. I watch the weekly ad's & match up coupons & write my list/scenario's down around wednesday. I typically stick with $50 or less (family of 3) and do the cash envelope method. Honestly, I love getting out once a week & if there is a Promo (like Albertsons this week, spend $30 Get $15) it's too hard not to pass up! I HTH, good luck on making a choice that works for you both :-)

Christina

SavvySuzie said...

I do a little of both - we're lucky enough to live close to all of the major stores we shop at so gas isn't a factor...I do a major haul whenever something I consider a "staple" goes on sale...then I cherry pick what I need to round out meals and pantry stock as it goes on sale.

Jennifer said...

I am in the process of trying to figure this out myself. I think that I like to do big shopping trips and then cherry pick during the rest of the month. I have started a new blog to write about grocery shopping. http://theextremehousewifegoesshopping.blogspot.com/

MelRae said...

I live within 5 miles of a Target, Kroger, WalMart, Publix, CVS, and Wags, so I guess I "cherry pick". Plus, our tiny house is not big enough for the four of us plus a dog and a month's supply of groceries!

Letty said...

My husband is also a teacher, so we have "shopping week" after payday. I menu plan for that month and visit Aldi, Wal-Mart, and Target. However, I also spend a day each week cherry-picking getting all the great deals on meats and other produce.(Kroger), and drug stores. I have done this system for quite a few years and think it works well for our family. However, with my couponing this last year, my big monthly hauls are getting smaller and my "cherry picks" are getting bigger! I still do a good job against impulse-buying though!

Robin (rsislandcrafts) said...

I like to do one big haul for the main dishes of the month and then cherry pick for the little things...and what's on sale.

gail said...

I am so fortunate to be close to everything, and am more of a cherry picker. Personally, I don't do well with an all at once trip. I find that by "popping in" to stores more frequently, I am able to get weekly sales before they run out, and I have to get rainchecks (grr). I also happen to run into managers specials, and markdowns more frequently.

mom_of2boys said...

For the most part, I do a monthly haul for grocery shopping. If there are staple items that are at a great price on my "off" weeks, then I will pick them up. I also hit Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid on a weekly basis depending on their sale. I haven't really been to CVS too much lately though. I guess I really do a little bit of both but I get most of it out of the way in my monthly haul. I know I don't HAVE to go back out if I don't have the time, can't find someone to keep the kids or don't feel like it. I find monthly works for me but it's really want fits your lifestyle.

jenegsmom said...

Like many others, we do both. But, i will be quite honest, i don't like grocery shopping!! (yes, i said it aloud!) So, i try to get as much as we can in one visit so the weekly milk, bread, etc. visits are quick. i have used coupons half-heartedly in the past, but have a new sense of adventure for them this new year with all of the wonderful blogs out there like this one that make this task a little more bearable. so, thank you!!

Anonymous said...

I do one Big Haul every 4 months and cherry pick the rest of the time. I only do the big haul at Aldi or Walmart due to the prices. When I have to do these we are broke for the longest time. I don't know how folks are doing it. I am not a mathematician either but just some quick math most folks earn about $30 to $40 K before taxes. Most items run about $3.00 or $4.00 each most households with only two folks go thru at least 80 or more items per week!!!! I can do that math!!! That's before taxes,rent,transportation, utilities,any gifts, entertainment,health care etc......
It is no wonder we can not make ends meet. One mathematician I know said the math works only this way 7 adults under one roof all paying in their own way and putting everything extra into savings this math equals retirement for all only if one does not get greedy and run off with it all.

Anonymous said...

I cherry pick, pretty much every single day. I am a sahm of 2 right now, so just getting out of the house is a treat. I live close to all of the good stores anyway, so gas isn't an issue. The deals are constant, so I go whenever I can!