Monthly Grocery Shopping: The Basics
Updated: Jul 7, 2019
I shop for my family of 5 ONCE A MONTH! That's right. 3 boys ages 3, 5, and 8 plus my husband and I. I decided to start buying all my groceries for the month so that I had more control over our budget. Carefully planning out the month ahead and purchasing in bulk, and then making meals with similar ingredients helps prevent overspending tremendously!
Plus, when I drop all the money at once, it really leaves an impression in my mind and I'm more mindful of other spending. When I would shop weekly, I would buy the meat for the week, veggies for the week, etc. While shopping monthly, I'm smarter about ingredients. And more often than not, I have extra pantry items and meats to carry me into the following month.
1. Create Budget
My ideal grocery budget is $300. I have wiggle room and we usually end up spending $400 after all is said and done, especially if spices, oils, or pantry items need to be restocked or there is a special occasion or holiday.
But it's important to figure out how much money you have available to spend and what is reasonable. When I was shopping weekly, I spent $140. I shop monthly and now save time and money- $120-$160 to put towards savings!
To see what I purchased you can check out my June Grocery Haul post.
Always take an inventory before shopping. It will help in meal planning and prevent you from purchasing something you already have, I just quickly write down a list on a piece of paper, nothing fancy.
3.Make Meal Plan
I create meals from items I still have. Maybe I still have pork chops, or some ricotta cheese I have to use up. I will find recipes for those items and they will be my first meals for the month. Next, I seek out recipes that have simple ingredients or shared ingredients. For example: Ribs and corn is an easy meal. Ribs are always on sale and corn is inexpensive, especially when in season. Make sure you are mindful of the ingredients.
4. Shop Around For Best Prices
I start with Grocery Outlet. They have great deals on many things I buy such as pasta sauces, pastas, smoked sausages, cheese, butter, milk, canned food, specialty cooking oils, snacks, nuts, dried fruit, and personal care items.
Next is Nob Hill. The bulk of my items come from here, mainly produce and meat. I utilize grocery pickup! (See #5)
Last is Costco. I purchase snacks in bulk like granola bars, lunch chips, fruit, carrots, eggs, typically chicken, lunch meat, yogurt, and chicken nuggets. Mainly my lunch items. It's easy to overspend at Costco, that's why I go there last so I know I only have so much leftover and have a list of what I need.
It's important to stick to the list and have an idea of how much you'll be spending before heading out. There are blogs out there that have complete price lists for Costco for most of their inventory! It's amazing!
***DO NOT TAKE YOUR HUSBAND WITH YOU! HE WILL BREAK THE BUDGET WITH IMPULSE BUYS******
5. E-CART/Grocery Pickup
I shop online so I can see the cost of everything and adjust the list as needed. I know exactly how much I'm spending before I commit when I do it this way, and there are no extra "impulse buys" because I shop online an buy only what's on my list.
Let me not forget to mention the ease of grocery pickup. You get to shop from the comfort of your own home, You get to schedule a time that fits your day, you drive up and you don't have to haul kids around the store, they load your car and you're on your merry little way. Save your time and sanity! Pick up your groceries! Target, Walmart, Nob Hill, Safeway, just a few stores that are beginning to offer this service.
The most difficult part is rationing the food so that the kids don't have free reign and eat all the food at once. It's happened many times. Within a week, a majority of the snack foods have disappeared. And the kids know that's it until next month.....which leads to hungry kids.... I have $50 budgeted for produce so throughout the month I can purchase fruit and veggies for them to snack on. When the "goodies" are gone, they're gone until next shopping trip.
It's really been a game changer to my budget and with freeing up some time. I save myself 3 trips to the grocery store a month and at least 3 hours! I have more time to focus on other things. I highly recommend giving it a try! Let me know how it goes!