The Strategic Shopping Formula
- stockpile your way to big savings

Strategic shopping is probably the top method for reducing your grocery bill dramatically. And it's really easy.

Strategic shopping simply means always buying an item on sale, in sufficient quantity to make it until the item goes on sale again. It's sometimes referred to as stockpiling.

But how do you know when an item you just bought will go on sale again ?

While you don't know for certain, if you've shopped at the same place frequently for at least 6 months, you may have noticed that many sales are repeated at regular, and fairly predictible, intervals. This is called a sales cycle.

It's not hard to understand why. The marketing department has to make a new store flyer every week, so it's much easier to repeat many of the sales. Also, because there are only so many items, repeats are inevitable. And most importantly, it keeps customers coming back, because they get familiar with the sales.

Let's look at an example of strategic shopping with potato chips. An 11 ounce bag costs around $4.59, which is absurd when you think about it.

Now suppose you've figured out that the sales cycle for potato chips is about 4 weeks, and that the sale price is $2.29, or 50% off. If your household consumes 1 bag of chips per week, you'll need 4 bags to make it from sale to sale.

potato chips
4 week sales cycle
Week Sale Price Bags Cost
1 yes $2.29 4 $9.16
2 no $4.59 0 $0.00
3 no $4.59 0 $0.00
4 no $4.59 0 $0.00
total cost = $9.16

On the other hand, it's a lot more expensive if you buy the chips as they are consumed, at 1 bag per week. You'll pay an extra $7 every 4 weeks, or about $90 per year !

potato chips
4 week sales cycle
Week Sale Price Bags Cost
1 yes $2.29 1 $2.29
2 no $4.59 1 $4.59
3 no $4.59 1 $4.59
4 no $4.59 1 $4.59
total cost = $16.06

Be aware that sales cycles may occur at different intervals. Some items go on sale every 4 weeks, others every 8 weeks. If you pay attention and remember things easily, you will begin to get a sense of the various sales cycles.

If you have a hard time remembering the sales cycles, track items in a spreadsheet. Each week, record anything you bought on sale on the spreadsheet. After you've bought the same thing on sale twice, you'll know its sale interval.

Stockpiling takes strategic shopping to the next level. Stockpiling typically focuses on canned goods and other pantry items with expiration dates years away. However, you can expand your list of stockpile items, if you're willing to buy a second freezer.

With stockpiling, you buy products that you will eventually use, even if you have plenty of them, whenever there is spectacular savings.

For example, suppose paper towels are 50% off, plus you've got a coupon for $5 off 10 rolls. You don't know when that kind of double deal will occur again, so buy the 10 rolls and stockpile them.

Remember, strategic shopping is not about buying grocery items that are different than what you normally buy. Rather, strategic shopping is buying the same grocery items your household typically consumes, but only when they are on sale.

So how much in savings can you expect from strategic shopping ? There's no reason that anyone can't cut their grocery bill by at least a third. Throw in stockpiling, and you've got some serious loot.