Grocery shopping might have been a fun chore to do at first. When you first had a paycheck or first gained financial independence, grocery shopping for yourself becomes something you do as an official adult. It brings you a sense of personal pride, now that you don’t have to rely on mom’s choices for food you can eat.
But when you become a mom yourself, you figure out it’s not exciting anymore. On the weekends, you would rather relax and spend time with your kids than be out of the house to do grocery shopping. And as you have more children, this activity becomes increasingly more annoying, and it might seem like a waste of time for you as you have more responsibilities to do.
A mom’s life is a busy life, so you have to make some adjustments for you to enjoy life better. Instead of going to the grocery store once a week or twice a month, why not shop once a month? Yes, it is possible! You will experience the most efficient grocery shopping ever.
To do this, it is recommended to make a big grocery shopping trip at the beginning of the month for those with longer expiration dates and things that will keep for three to four weeks. Then, make shorter trips strictly for fresh produce and other perishables like bread, milk, and cheese.
Benefits of Once-a-Month Grocery Shopping
It can start out of necessity, but once-a-month grocery shopping will lead to many benefits for you as a mom. Here’s what it can do for you:
The less you go to the grocery store, the less likely you’ll buy. Especially once when you start meal planning and shopping with your little kids – it can be hard to stay focused on either of the tasks. You would likely forget some stuff and need to make extra trips. Then you may end up with stuff you don’t really need. The more you go to the store, the more you might give in to craving a little more, which adds to the cost. Simply reducing the number of times you go to the store means fewer opportunities for impulse purchases or buying something just because it’s on sale.
Additionally, having an insurance flex card can help reduce the number of times you go to the store – if you can use it to purchase groceries, you can limit your shopping trips even further. Plus, it may even help you to stay focused on the task, as you don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring cash or cards. The less you go to the grocery store, the less likely you’ll buy, especially if you’re armed with an insurance flex card that enables you to buy groceries.
Also, you can buy chemical free house cleaning products in bulk when you go shopping just once a month. This pays off in a big way because buying in bulk saves more money.
Weekly meal planning and shopping can take three to four hours a week, which will give you about 12-15 hours a month. This involves planning, making a list, driving to and from the store, actual grocery shopping, unloading, unpacking, and putting them away in the fridge and pantry. You can minimize this time by planning meals per month and going to the groceries once a month. It’s best to do this, of course, with no kiddos around.
Then, any additional shopping for fresh fruits, veggies, and milk throughout the week will only last for minutes and may cost you around $20-$30 only.
Wastes less food
If you go to the store less, you eat more of what you have on hand. Occasionally, you may need an ingredient that is not in your pantry or craves something that you don’t have. The result is you will end up eating more of what you have around. You will get creative, consume what you already have, and not spend more than what is on the budget.
Except for fresh ingredients, we don’t have to eat the meals at any particular time. For instance, if you planned carbonara but don’t feel like it, you can swap it out with lo mein and eat the carbonara on a different day. If the weather is nice, you can swap burgers with the soup meal you have planned and be confident that you have everything you need. You can easily swap meals for another because you got so many choices.
Also, if you run out of something, you can make do without it until the next month. You can get creative with the ingredients you have. For instance, if you ran out of cumin and chili powder, you can still make tacos twice by adding salsa to the beef or ground turkey while cooking to add flavor even with the lack of key spices.
How to Do Grocery Shopping Once a Month
Shopping for the whole month can seem like a daunting task, but it can be simplified by following these steps:
Plan out your meals
Meal preparation is an important task that is necessary to do before you jump in your car and go to the grocery store. Schedule a day when you have to plan your meals for the next month. Make it a family effort by giving them a chance to put in their meal requests. Then, start by building a monthly list of meals that your family wants to eat. It’s usually a mix of interesting things you’ve found through the month, and of course, old-time favorites and pantry staples.
At the beginning of the month, your fridge and pantry can look pretty intimidating. But if you have planned-out meals, you will not look aimlessly at what you have and create just about anything out of it.
Make a grocery list and stick to it
As you run out of foods or think of something you’d like to have in the house, you can add it to your growing list. If you think of a meal you’d like to make next month, list its ingredients down. At the end of the month, you can add anything else you need. Then, make a final list where you divide items into different sections of the store so it will be easier for you to pick out the things you need while inside the grocery store. You can categorize them like these:
- Pancake mix
- Dried beans
- Packaged snacks
- Bottled condiments like ketchup, mayo, mustard, olive oil, etc.
- Fresh meats like ground beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, etc.
- Deli meats
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Frozen waffles
- Spaghetti sauce
- Nut butter
- Chili and beans
- Salad dressings
- Instant soups
Plastic and paper items
- Toilet paper
- Garbage bag
- Paper towels
- Zip-top bags
- Baby wipes
- Leafy greens
Figure out how much food you need
You need a rough idea of how much of the basic staples you need. Estimate how much olive oil, how much oatmeal, how much eggs will last you for weeks. How often will you cook a chicken-based dish, and how much will you serve every meal? Questions like these are what you need to answer to know how much you need to buy in bulk.
You may take a month to record exactly how much of everything your family typically eat or consume before attempting to do monthly shopping.
If it’s too overwhelming for you at first, you can always start slowly. For instance, instead of weekly shopping, you can do it every other week. And once you get the hang of it, you can go shopping once a month to even save more money and time.
Tips to Make it Work
Here’s how you can manage to have a month’s worth of stock:
Provide more storage space
To do grocery shopping once a month, you need to have ample food storage space. You will need room for all those bags, cans, and boxes. You may fill up your freezer and fridge. And the bigger your family is, the more storage space you will need for a month’s worth of non-perishable pantry items. Keep this in mind before embarking on this type of shopping. If you know your fridge or pantry storage is not big enough, once-a-month grocery shopping may not work for you. But if you’re dedicated to doing it, you can upgrade or buy more storage.
Freeze all meat right away
Fresh meats are perishable items, but a freezer can preserve them and make it last even for several months. It helps if you have a deep or large freezer to give you ample space to store food. As soon as you get home from the grocery store, take your meat into the freezer.
Make the most out of frozen produce
Though you were to get fresh fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market, it’s wise to keep frozen stuff on hand. You can roast most veggies that are frozen just like you would fresh produce. You can try to roast cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and more by putting the contents of a freezer bag onto a baking sheet, then tossing it with some olive oil and heating it in a 435-degree oven for about 30 minutes. You can also use the freezer to make fresh produce last longer.
Be careful when stocking up on snack foods
The once-a-month grocery shopping system will backfire if your family eats more food as you bring it home. If your kids devour snacks quickly after stocking up – it won’t last for a month! It helps if you have secret storage for these foods if your kids have little to no self-control.
Accept that there will be repetition
You won’t eat the same thing every week, but certain ingredients make an appearance more often than they used to. At times, you might even have a few packs or bottles of the exact same condiment at the same time. If you’re cutting down on your shopping time and finding things more convenient overall, these little hiccups aren’t really worrisome. Take a picture of the pantry or cupboard before shopping, if possible, or have an ongoing list of what you do or do not have.
In case it feels like your grocery shopping and cooking are getting a bit monotonous, it won’t hurt to change things up a bit. However, you will have to plan ahead and discipline yourself to get the right ingredients for a new recipe. It might be best to first take a look at what you already have and then look up some ways to utilize them in a new way. For instance, try making your fresh tomatoes into a delicious homemade pasta sauce or check out how they are used in different cuisines all over the world.
With the busy schedules and demanding routines these days, anyone with or without kids will probably benefit from a bit of discipline when it comes to grocery shopping. Even if you’re not looking to cut back on your grocery budget, limiting yourself to one big shop a month will be useful for developing better organization in your kitchen. Who knows, trying to use up all the ingredients at the end of the month might even result in a bit of experimentation at times.
If you find yourself running to the grocery store or supermarket every other day, or buying useless things just because they looked good there, the above discussion will hopefully be of help. Start your list today and plan your monthly grocery run; let’s see whether it’s beneficial for you or not.