Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just My Two Cents: Panic Shopping vs. Pantry Shopping

Being a savvy shopper is more than just using coupons and shopping sales, it’s using common sense when applying these shopping tactics at the store and at home. In my savvy world there’s two different kinds of shopping, panic shopping and pantry shopping. 

Many shoppers apply the panic shopping model to their grocery trips on weekly basis.  If you’ve ever made a weekly menu and then created a shopping list to supply the ingredients for those meals you have panic shopped.  Panic shopping is the simple act, though an expensive one, of shopping in the moment based on immediate desires, not needs.  As an example, let’s say you’ve decided to have tacos on Tuesday but you have no ground beef.  You now have to run to the store and buy taco meat at full shelf price if no one has it on an advertised sale instead of using previously packed and frozen beef from your freezer which should have been purchased at a discount.  You had to have the taco meat for Tuesday’s meal so you likely had to sacrifice a larger portion of your budget than desired to allow for the meat expense.  And what about chips and salsa or any other taco night ingredients – you’ll have to buy those as well if you’re out.

Instead of planning family meals based on wants, I choose meals based on ingredients already on hand and “in stock” in my own personal store – my pantry.  My daughter often calls our basement storage rooms “the store”.  She questioned once why it actually looked like a store.  First, let me say that while I’m not clinically diagnosed with organizational OCD and I don’t HAVE to turn all the labels the same direction on the shelves in order to find inner happiness I choose to do so because it looks nice! (Ok – maybe borderline OCD.)  When I’m planning meals for the week I shop from my pantry first, meaning I prepare weekly meals from food I have already purchased at significant discounts found by watching sales and using coupons.  I literally shop my pantry for a meal before I shop at the actual store.  Stocking up on family favorites and buying more than one can or even case of a family favorite when it’s in my price point, the point at which the price is low enough that I’m willing to buy it, ensures that my pantry will hold a bevy of recipe conscious ingredients at all times. 

Once you’ve established your pantry, or even if you’re working to establish it, shopping from the front page of local grocery ads for additional fresh ingredients, packaged goods and produce can also save shoppers a significant amount of money.  The front page of a grocery or retail ad is often referred to as  a “loss leader”.  The items displayed for sale on this page are typically significantly discounted deals intended to lead you in to the store to buy even more product.  This ensures a great deal can be found on page 1.  Consider using these items in your meal planning lists to supplement current pantry ingredients.

Saving money on your monthly grocery bill goes hand in hand with saving time and money in the kitchen. Panic shopping is expensive and stressful in my opinion.  A little pantry planning can save you hundreds of dollars a year and hours of unnecessary time at the store.  

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