Grocery Store Poll: in which I wonder just how crazy I am

In an average month I shop for groceries at 6 different stores, depending on where the sales are. Regular stops for me are: Costco (warehouse store), WinCo (a discount grocery store in the Pacific NW), Wal-Mart, Pauls (locally owned grocery store with great meat prices), and sometimes a dollar store or an ethnic market. How about you? Remember to count convenience stores, drugstores, ethnic markets, warehouse stores, the dollar store, and anywhere else you buy groceries. Count every location that you typically visit as one store: for example, if you shop at a couple different Wal-Marts on opposite ends of town, count that as two stores, not one.


In this second poll, tell me how many different times you buy groceries in an average month. Count every stop, even the quick trips in for a single item. In case you’re curious, I shop about 6 times a month.

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  1. I dont shop at very many stores (I voted 2-3 stores) but I shop a LOT of times (I voted 7-10, although maybe I should’ve gone with 11+). In my small town there’s one grocery store and one Dollar General store. I seldom go to WalMart; I hate it.

    There’s just me to shop for, and I tend to run in the store a couple of times a week after work to pick up stuff for supper for a night or two. I hate to put stuff in the freezer because then I forget to defrost it and I’m sitting at dinner time with something frozen. (The gro store is on my way home from work and I only live two miles from work. Told you, it’s a small town!)

    I do usually buy whatever is on sale (at least as far as meat is concerened).

    And I do believe in leftovers. 🙂

  2. We normally only shop at WalMart although occasionally… once every 3 months or so.. we’ll go to Albertons or Fiesta for produce. We live right down the street from WalMart and we probably shop more than 11 times a month, including running in for a last minute or forgotten grocery item that we need.

  3. The bane of my existence …… running to the store to pick up 1 or 2 things that I have either forgotten or that we’ve run out of. I must do it 2-3 times a week. Drives me INSANE. Especially since more often than not, I have my 2 and 3.5 year olds in tow! You’d think it would motivate me to get myself more organized!!!

  4. You are not crazy! I tell those following my blog that it is necessary to go to two different stores during a week to grab the bargains but I do encourage them to only visit two stores to keep from spending more time shopping than they should be. Using a stockpile really keeps us from having to dash out at the last minute to grab something. If I am going to the store, it is a thoroughly thought out trip with a savings scenario worked out and polished.

  5. Great poll! Here in Salem we just do Winco. Shopping is about once a week, occasionally an extra for special things like potluck or parties.
    It drove me crazy growing up that my mom went to the store nearly every day, and/or sent us halfway through dinner prep to go buy one quick item. She grew up with that pattern and it carried over.
    All that to say, meal planning and all the advice about shopping, freezing food and saving time is really new to me and I’ve never been so pumped up!
    We made the fajitas and blueberry poppyseed muffins yesterday. Both turned out so so delicious!

  6. One time a year or so again I wrote so many checks in such a short period of time at WINCO that they had to call management…the computer kicked it back. It was funny they said I’d written some 6 checks in the span of a couple of days….you would think I could get it all in a single trip. NOPE.

  7. Crystal M. says:

    I do my weekly grocery shopping at Albertsons and Savemart – our only grocery stores in town. Each store has it’s good points and good sales. And they are across the street from each other so shopping both stores isn’t too time consuming or a waste on my gas budget.

    I also shop at Target once or twice a month when we go into ‘the big city’. My hubby works for Target so we get the employee discount and bonus discounts throughout the year. I have always preferred Target to Walmart. I can’t stand shopping at Walmart. I used to shop at Costco but found that the prices were just as good when shopping the sales at the three other stores. Recently, Target started stocking warehouse items in select stores so that has also contributed to my decision to let our Costco membership expire.

    Very interesting to see the trend on your polls. Have a great week!

  8. So you go to 6 store/month, but shop about 6 times/month? So approximately one store stop per month? That’s WAY more organized than I’ll ever be…

    I go to two local chains once/week and then Aldi about once every two weeks. We go through alot of milk and the fridge only holds so much! We’re getting a SuperWalMart in the next 6 months though, so I expect that to go up. I do combine many of my grocery trips though, so I’ll hit 3 stores in one grocery run.

  9. We shop at only one store….the commissary. Every once in awhile we go out in town but not often.

    We do our major grocery shopping on the 1st & 15th of each month. Those are our military pay days. And between that we usually go once a week to get more milk, OJ, fruit, etc.

  10. Umm, I shop at 5 different locations of a single grocery store. 😉 I’m abroad, and here, different locations of the same chain won’t necessarily have the same things. On top of that, I go to one ethnic store, and I frequent an organic farmer’s market down the street from me. 7 for me, I guess.

    I shop once or twice a week.

  11. Can I say how much I miss Costco and Winco? Nothing compares to the deals I could get between the two out here!

  12. wow! we’re only a family of three but I easily hit at least 2-3 stores a week (probably a combo of 4-5 over the course of a month) looking for the best deals. Fortunately 3 of my favorites are less than a mile from my house and the others (CVS and such) are on my way to/from work so nothing’s majorly out of my way.

  13. We converted about a year ago to more food storage and pantry, in an effort to be more mindful with our spending, improve our health and recession-proof a bit. We’ve managed to save a lot of money by cutting down on trips. We do one massive shop per month for all of the staple items (grains, flours, meat, canned items, everything) and we only shop for dairy and fresh produce once per week.

    I said we shop at 2-3 stores per month, but that is actually two stores and a farm. We do not support any big box stores. We found the prices compelling but the offenses to the environment, local business and human rights just too steep to ever compel us to support their practices.

    Thanks for the interesting poll!

  14. Oh, goodness gracious…I’m lucky if I only hit 6 stores per month! If there’s a sale, it’s worth the trip! You’re not crazy, Mary!

  15. Well I too am crazy. I scan the store ads on Sunday and make a list of what is on sale at which store (I also clip coupons). Then during the course of the week, I’ll get what I need.

    So I shop between 5 different stores probably 2-3 days a week. I feed a family of 5 on about $500/month. But it helps that my two teen step-sons work at Subway 😉

  16. We live 20 min from the closest small town, 40 min from the nearest real town, so that has dramatically cut down on “running to the store”. We just don’t do it.

    Main grocery shopping is Costco and Winco, twice a month. Problem comes when we take a kid to an appt. or youth group and hang out in town shopping to kill time. I can spend $50 in Walmart without even trying – or really needing any of it.

  17. I am completely OCD about this, with 1 car in our family we make one shopping “journey” a week. I plan my menu carefully and then make my list. Usually I go to Costco once a month, the “grocery” store twice a month, target once, and then Henry’s (fresh fruit/health food store) 2-3 times.

    We are off right now because in Southern CA this is the hight of cold and flu season and our 4 year old is recovering from open heart surgery we are limiting our germ exposure as much as possible and using a lot of the pantry stash we built up so we are down to 3-4 trips/stops a month.

  18. I have gone to 11 different stores this month, but on only 3 main shopping days (one more next monday) and 2 other days where I walked to a bread outlet near my house (probably twice more on the next two fridays). I am incapable of just picking everything up in one store. Luckily, the farthest store I go to is only about 3 miles from my house.

    I too go to Costco once a month, another warehouse store about once a month, and pretty much one of every chain store in the city at least once a month. Not to mention the 2 different produce store chains.

  19. I shop at many stores, depending on where I am when I am shopping. I try and do some grocery shopping when my kids are in their home school art class which is at a different end of town then where I normally shop. I have to shop 2-3 times a week, only because I am diabetic and I run out for fresh produce frequently. I tried to only go once a week, but I tend to run out of lettuce or I buy a big bag of apples and the bottom layer goes bad :(. Unfortunately i probably spend more than I need to, picking up other non-essencials when there 😉 I probably should have said the higher numbers on the poll. As I sit and think I shop at a lot of different stores, frequently.

  20. I counted my market visits as one stop shopping since it sort of is… 😉 I do a weekly big shop at Marjane, which is the Moroccan version of Fred Meyer’s, but most weeks we pop into LaBelVie (Moroccan version of Safeway or Albertsons) once or twice, and then I go to the market for fresh chicken or lamb and I go to a little shop for oatmeal–they’re the only place in town that sells it as far as I know. Should I count the stops at the carts selling fruit? I did say 11+ so I guess it’s covered 😉

  21. I used to check out all the ads online and then make my stops accordingly and it wasn’t unusual for me to make 5 to 6 different stops just to get items onsale. Now, I shop one store and one store only Wegmans. They have the best of everything and they double coupons up to .75. I also do subscribe and save on for some non parishables. I have a lot more energy now that I don’t have to go to several different stores. But I still spend a lot of time cutting and organizing coupons (more than I like) but it all is worth it in the end

  22. I don’t go to the store more than once a week, if that. BUt I put 11+ because my husband stops on the way home all the time. It’s right on his way from work so he calls from the store to ask what I need a couple of times a week. It’s good that he’s the one there though, because he only comes home with what I tell him to get most of the time. I would always be finding extra things to put in the cart if I could see them. 🙂

  23. I also shop for some speciality items on line. I counted that also.

  24. Do you only have supermarkets in the US? I counted the butchers, 2 greengrocers, fish shop before I even got to any supermarkets…

    • In my area, there aren’t really many stores that sell just one category of food, except bakeries, I guess….I bet you get better quality stuff by buying from specialty stores like that.

  25. I shop at a lot of stores but most of them are all within a few blocks in our little county seat city. Save A Lot, dollar store, bread thrift store, Aldi, Walmart, Kroger. I also go a Meijer about 15 miles away when I’m nearby. I do weekly grocery shopping and I probably stop at least once a week for something else. Sometimes this is due to special sales like the bread store’s special Monday only prices.

  26. First, let me say that I LOVE your book on family feasts and this website. Thank you!

    Okay, I live on a mountain about 15 miles from any towns no matter which direction I go. There is on grocery store that I mainly use, but I hit the other when I have to buy propane for heating my home, and I am headed in that direction. If I go a bit further past the second store, there is a small salvage store that I visit to stock up on odd things like unusual sauces or snacks. I try NEVER to shop at Walmart, since I have strong objections to many of thier practices. I am able to feed my family of 3 adults(myself, my husband, and my 23 year old son) on a little less than 300 dollars a month at the grocery store.

  27. I shop at “Cash and Carry”, a restaurant supply store and at a salvage store each week. I am feeding mom, dad, and 5-6 teen boys! My biggest expense seems to be dairy,fruits and vegies…we eat as close to nature as possible with lots of beans and grains and few prepared foods of any kind. I go to Costco once a month,and occasionally hit the local Supermarket,but their prices are so high it pays me to drive 20 miles…

  28. I shop every Wednesday at a local New Frontiers (organics/health food store) and my husband shops once a month or less at the commissary (mostly for the non-food items). I keep a list on the computer of the things we buy at each place, in order of their appearance in the store.
    I print out each list, then mark each item we need as we run out or as I’m planning for meals. It makes life so much easier for me!
    I’ve done this for about 5 years and wish I’d been so organized when our kids were little.
    The first time I used the commissary list, I showed it to my husband and very carefully explained that I needed just what was marked off and please not to spend more than $xx.00.
    He came home with bags and bags of stuff. WHAT?? He’d bought some of each thing on the list. And spent lots more than $xx.00!!
    I said, “But I showed you how I marked it and asked you to hold down the total…and how did you know WHICH size batteries or what strength lightbulbs I wanted, since they weren’t marked?” Well, he didn’t … so he got some of each. Ah, a true engineer…and I’m still glad I married him after 40 fun years!

  29. I retired four years ago and had to adjust to ONE payday a month, big adjustment. I shop on payday mainly in our smalltown Associated food store and mainly shop their ad. I stock up on casegoods and staples to keep on hand so extra trips to the store are for produce, milk, or exceptional good buys during the month.