Tag Archives: Saving money

Twice a Month Grocery Shopping: First Month’s Results

Last month I wrote a post about my new aspirations for grocery shopping less, utilizing more of what was already in our house, and hopefully saving time and money in the process. Here‘s the original post if you missed it!

So, a month in, I’m really pleasantly surprised with how not-overwhelming and cost-efficient it is to only grocery shop twice a month! As I mentioned before, I was previously spending about $70-80 on my “main” shopping trip each week, and then usually around $10-20 on little side trips throughout the week to get something we were out of, or something we were craving. In the three times I’ve shopped for two weeks at a time, I’ve spent between $100-$120 and so I’m really happy with that! I feel like meal planning for two weeks at a time has helped me notice bad patterns in our eating that might not be as noticeable if I were to just kind of fly by the seat of my pants. We also just naturally buy less junk food, because, let’s be honest, you’re probably going to buy one or two not-so-great things each time you do a bigger shopping trip, but if I’m only doing a larger haul twice a month that’s not soooooo bad, right? Girl’s gotta have her candy.

Full disclosure though, I haven’t been perfect at not running to the store for other things. For example, we got together with some friends for dinner spur-of-the-moment once, and I definitely ran to buy the ingredients for that. And we ran out of eggs last week and I totally bought more because we use those constantly. So I’m figuring it out and it’s a work in progress! 🙂

I also just have a general sense of satisfaction over wasting less food. I just read that the average American family wastes $1365-$2275 annually on uneaten, spoiled food–and based on our family’s past habits, I’d believe it! Not to mention it puts a strain on environmental resources. I’ve definitely noticed that over the last month, I’ve become better at using what we already have in the fridge, even if it’s not what I necessarily want right then. So yeah, the last few days before I shop aren’t the biggest party (not that we are going hungry….I am reasonable…..but, like, if I want bagels I don’t go buy a dozen bagels right then. Even though I really want to).

Shopping also doesn’t take as long as I would have thought–even though I’m buying food for double the length of time, it doesn’t take twice as long to shop. Still, I’d recommend leaving small children at home if at all possible….this is what happened the last time I took Ella with me:

Car-cart abandoned promptly when we discovered it contained no restraining device.

So it goes without saying that I LOVE not having to drag her to the store as often! Saturday is usually my shopping day, and it’s great to wake up every other Saturday and not dread dragging her through the busy aisles (as I’m typing this I’m wondering why I don’t switch to another day?….).

The very hardest part of this system is the meal planning! It just seems like such a daunting task and figuring out what’s for dinner is always such a chore–I love cooking, and I don’t really mind shopping, but planning is a pain. It’s just that nothing sounds good, and I get bored of the same meals over and over, so I definitely take a while figuring out what we are going to be eating for the next two weeks. I set aside time after Ella has gone to bed, get the laptop (for Pinterest, duh) and my cookbooks, and just go to town browsing. I try to avoid too many of the same kind of meat for dinner (like, not all beef dishes, or chicken, etc.) as well as a few meatless things. My all-time favorite recipe site is Mel’s Kitchen Cafe–seriously I don’t think I’ve ever tried a dish I haven’t liked! And, the Paprika app is the best for saving recipes that I love and will make again.

For lunches we usually just do sandwiches, leftovers, or pasta, and breakfast is usually cereal, toast, or scrambled eggs unless I’m feeling fancy, so that part is pretty easy to plan for. We usually do Costco once a month and I get the requisite Cheez-its, dried fruit, and fruit snacks for her royal tiny highness.

So, I hope this little report has been helpful! To sum it up, yes, shopping less frequently definitely takes some more effort and discipline but it’s awesome to not have to deal with it as often, and it’s saving us money and sanity!

#grocerygoals: My Twice-a-Month Shopping Challenge

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Since Dave and I have been married we have had a pretty basic system for meal planning and grocery shopping that has, in my opinion, served us pretty well. I usually plan our food for the week and shop on Saturdays, and then we cook every other night, eat leftovers on the off nights and eat out once a week, usually on Friday or Saturday. Obviously, there are things that come up and the occasional Chick-fil-a run, but for the most part we try to eat at home since it’s cheaper and healthier (in theory….I know there are exceptions!).

I’ve sort of just patted myself on the back that we are meal planning and cooking at all, but lately I’ve been feeling like I spend too much money on food. Our monthly grocery budget is $500, but that includes household items like cleaning supplies, diapers and wipes (about $45/month), and toiletries. Still, I usually only spend about $70-80 per weekly grocery run, plus about $20-30 per week eating out once, and every.single.month we are over budget–even though, with those numbers, we should have money left over!

I’ve decided this comes down to the fact that, even though I think “oh, I only shop once a week,” that isn’t actually true! There’s always at least one more quick trip to the grocery store for something or other during the week, and that usually ends up in me buying a few other things that I’ve noticed we are running low on, or that I’m just craving. A few weeks ago I went to the store for milk or eggs or something basic and left with a huge bag of Skittles AND a bag of Starburst–I have a problem! It’s those little spur-of-the-moment choices that are undermining my good intentions, I’m sure of it. Also, I often hit up different stores (like Sprouts, love that place!) thinking that I’ll get a better deal on a specific item but I pretty much never make it out without spending like $20-$30 on various stuff.

So I’ve decided to conduct an experiment. I’ve read a lot of blog posts by people that only grocery shop once or twice a month, period. At first I thought it was a little weird, honestly, and it made me kind of sad because food is basically my and Dave’s favorite thing so the thought of cutting down on variety or access to whatever food I might want at a moment’s notice seemed depressing. But after thinking about it more, I am just curious to see if shopping less frequently will make a difference in our budget.

Once a month seems a bit extreme to me (and I don’t see how fresh produce could last you a whole month, and I am not willing to just use canned and frozen stuff) and so I’m going to start a bit more gradually and start by just grocery shopping every other week, with a monthly shopping trip to Costco for the things we buy there like diapers and frozen chicken. If we are out of something crucial like toilet paper or whatever, I will run and grab that, but I’m going to try really hard to avoid the grocery store outside of my planned shopping trips and plan ahead so we don’t run out of things mid-week.

groceries

Yesterday was my first time shopping for half a month at a time and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t as overwhelming as I had anticipated! The planning took a lot more time and energy than the actual shopping, so I know from now on that I need to set aside some time when Ella is asleep (crucial step!) so I can concentrate and make an organized list.  In total, I planned six dinners (since they last us two nights and we will eat out a few times too) and replenished produce and things we eat for breakfast, lunches, and snacks. I also bought a few toiletries like shampoo and conditioner since we were running low and I didn’t want to run out in the next two weeks.

Shopping actually didn’t really take any more time than a once-a-week trip would have, and the bill was $98–less than I was anticipating for two weeks of supplies! Granted, I had already done a Costco trip this month so we had milk, cereal, a big bag of frozen chicken, and quite a bit of fruit in the house already. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that planning more meals at once helps me to plan a greater variety and some healthier options, since I can notice patterns in what we are eating. For instance, I noticed that I had planned more than one meal containing red meat (pot roast and this gnocchi and bacon dish, AMAZING!!!!), so I tried to balance those out with a few vegetarian dinners (like my very favorite sweet potato burritos, here).

What I am really interested in is seeing if this is really a sustainable habit long-term. I think it’s going to take some self-discipline to avoid running to the store for every little thing, especially if we are out of something I like to eat regularly (or, if we run out of Ella’s beloved string cheese prematurely….heaven help us all). I’ve already decided that if something comes up unexpectedly, like bringing dinner to someone, I might have to break the rules but I’ll try to get creative with what already have. I hope that this system decreases the amount of food we waste too, since we won’t constantly be adding to what’s already in our fridge. We shall see 🙂

What tips do you have for saving money on groceries? Anyone out there tried once-a-month shopping and had success? Let me know in the comments! I’ll keep you posted with more specifics as I see how this system works for our family!