Shop European-Style For Fresher, Cheaper Food

Infrequent bulk shopping is a common way for people to get groceries. Stock up on Saturday, restock on the next Saturday, and hope everything keeps well through the week. European-style shopping increases your access to fresh and inexpensive food.

Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives.

Over at the frugality-centred blog Wise Bread they've put together an argument in defence of European-style shopping. Instead of shopping once a week or once every two weeks and packing your fridge with food, you should shop every day. Rather than keep perishable food stock piled in your fridge hoping to use it while it is still fresh, you should grab fresh and often discounted food from the market every day:

When I'm buying groceries for the household, I shop almost every day. Instead of planning a menu in advance, I go to the store and look around to see what looks good. That way, I can get whatever's fresh and cheap.

Meat in particular gets marked down as it approaches its sell-by date. You can't do much with that sort of deal if you only shop once a week, because you won't want to be cooking meat a week after its sell-by date. However, since I'm going to cook it that same day, I'm perfectly happy buying something on its sell-by date - at which point it's often been marked down to a fraction of its regular price.

Indeed, just last week I made an enormous and delicious pot roast because the day I was shopping was the sell-by-date of some substantial slabs of roast meat. Had I not swung by the meat section while grabbing a few other small items I wouldn't have seen the more than half-off roast meat, and dinner that night would have been a less delicious and possibly more expensive affair.

One thing to keep in mind: Daily shopping isn't the same as the usual once a week marathon shopping people are used to. If you're only going into the market to grab some fish and some salad greens you're not spending two hours at the grocer and lugging bag after bag of groceries around.

Check out the full article for more information including how to stockpile non-perishable staples so you only need to pick up fresh food for that day's meals. Have your own experiences shopping European-style? Let's hear about them in the comments.

Buy Your Groceries European-Style [Wisebread]


    See yesterday's article:

    Who has time to shop every day?!

      Not to mention that it's been proven that you buy more unnecessary items when you grocery shop, so increasing the amount of time a week you spend at the shops will increase the need to justify being there. I know when I go to the shops to get one or 2 items I come back with more things than I planned. It's also a great way to ensure that you don't have breakfast or lunch the next day as you will not know until you look to see if you needed cereal. Finally, it's no way to survive a potential Zombie attack, you are likely to not survive the first week as you will need to search for food.

      @ Kevin
      Considering most supermarkets are open til at least 9pm, I'd say just about everyone.

      As the article (and lifehacker) state - this is not the big shop - you pop in on your way home from work or at lunchtime, pick up 2 or 3 items, and are gone.

      @ Heath
      Is our intelligence and memory that bad we can't know when something like cereal is about to run out? Maybe they should put some kind of device on it to measure it.

      And although your Zombie attack situation is the best reason for bulk shopping, what I do is satisfy the need of impulse shopping by buying 1 different canned good every shopping trip.

      That way I've done my impulsive shop, and after a week, I am stocked up for the potential zombie attack.

    My wife and I shop almost daily (local greengrocer, small supermarket and butcher). If you're disciplined it doesn't get too expensive.

    If you're like us, you spend a fortune on food anyway, but quality food is a must for us... It's not for everyone I guess.

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