Hello and welcome to the third post in my meal planning series! If you’re new and want to read the first two you can click these links for easier navigation! (First post– Introduction and recipe organizing, Second post– Writing down the plan!)
In this post we’re going to talk about I grocery shop just once a month! Everyone has their own way of doing grocery shopping, so my way might not work for you. I’m happy to share my methods, though, in the off chance that I help someone have a better shopping and meal planning experience!
You might be wondering why I choose to shop once for 5 weeks of food. It’s simple really- I hate grocery shopping and I love saving money. What?! You, too!?! Read on, sister!
Does this scenario sound familiar? You decide you’re going to make tacos for dinner. You check the fridge and pantry and find out you need taco seasoning and tortillas. Time for a store run. While you’re there you remember you need bananas and sandwich bread. And ketchup. And spinach. And orange juice. And…. Do you see where this is going? You needed just two things for dinner but somehow you just got way more than you intended and spent more money than you were planning on. Those weren’t necessarily impulse buys- they’re things you and your family will use, but time and time again a trip that should have cost $15 ended up costing $95. And if we’re all being honest here the impulse buys sneak in, don’t they? “Oh the kids would love ice cream tonight!” or “I would really like to try that new coffee creamer.” It happens, but those little trips are what destroy grocery budgets without fail.
The sure fire way to set up your grocery shopping trip for success is to make a list. Shopping without a list will lead to too many purchases and impulse buys, as well as forgotten items and frustration. Some people have the wherewithal to make their list follow their store’s floor plan. If you are one of those people I salute you. I am just not one of them. Yes, I could definitely be a more efficient shopper, but for right now my method works for me. While I like to keep my calendar and to do lists on paper, I use a digital grocery list. This ensures that I never leave my list at home, and I can update it whenever something comes to mind. Also, my husband and I use the same list app (Wunderlist) and share a grocery list so he is able to update the list independently and also see what I have on there already.
If you read my meal planning posts you know that I grocery shop once every five weeks. I get all my meats, cheeses, sides, drinks, everything for the next five weeks in one trip. I will make a second trip to the grocery store every two and half weeks for fresh produce.
So what does that look like?
It starts with my meal plan. Before I plan my meals I check in my refrigerator and pantry to see what I already have on hand so I don’t buy more than is necessary. For example, if I have some mozzarella cheese that’s been sitting in there a while I’ll put Baked Ziti or Homemade Pizzas on my meal plan to use it before it spoils. Then, as I am putting my plan together I am adding any needed items to my grocery list. Once that is done I take stock of snack and breakfast items, as well as toiletries and paper products, to make sure that there’s nothing else I need to pick up.
The next step for me is coupons. I want to be an extreme coupon lady, I really do, but I don’t have the time, the energy, or the storage for that kind of hobby. I do try to look for coupons online before I shop, though. I never buy something just because I have a coupon, that’s not saving any money! I only use coupons on something I was going to buy any way (if the coupon about to expire) or paired with sales.
I usually do my shopping at two stores: Kroger and Sam’s Club. Where I purchase various items depends upon sale prices and availability. Here’s an example of what I usually buy at Sam’s Club.
- 4 lb. packages chicken breast (3)
- 5 lb. package of ground beef (1)
- bag of frozen tilapia
- bag of frozen salmon
- applesauce pouches (when not on sale at Kroger)
- sandwich bread (when not on sale at Kroger)
- orange juice (when not on sale at Kroger)
- frozen broccoli
- coconut oil
- Honeynut Cheerios (when not on sale at Kroger or no coupon available)
Here’s an example of what I usually buy at Kroger:
- Fresh, canned, and frozen produce
- bags of shrimp (1-2 depending on meal plan)
- yogurt and granola
- gluten free items (mixes, flours, breads)
- snacks for my daughter
- frozen gluten-free pizzas
- pepperoni, sausage, salami
The above lists are not exhaustive, but I hope they give you an idea of what I’m usually buying at each store. Believe it or not I usually try to do both stores in one day. If possible I do my grocery shopping on Thursday or Friday so I can prepare my meats and any freezer meals over the weekend when my husband can help with our daughter.
Now maybe you’ve read this and thought “There’s no way I could plan and shop for 5 weeks of meals! This chick is crazy!” Just because planning 5 weeks of meals doesn’t work for your family doesn’t meal that meal planning in and of itself might not work for your family. Try planning one week, then two, then maybe even three- whatever works for you! The goal here is to save time, money, and energy. The process and end result will look different for each family, so don’t get discouraged if someone is planning more weeks than you or if someone’s able to shop less often than you are- it’s not a competition!
I hope this post has helped you see that shopping for 5 weeks at one time really isn’t horrible and that it will help you save time and money in the long run! In my next post I’ll be breaking down how I prepare everything for the next 5 weeks once I get home from the store. Shopping for 5 weeks isn’t worth it unless you do a little meal prep when you get home, so make sure you don’t miss it!
The best way to not miss a post is to subscribe with your email address on the right sidebar. I promise that the only emails you receive will contain my most recent blog post and nothing else! (I hate spam probably more than you do!) Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!