August was my month of saving money. We have our property tax payment coming up and being a paranoid pregnant woman of 8 months, I kicked into high gear for saving money. My “genius” plan was to grocery shopping only once a month. This means having every meal of the month planned (I know, I’m crazy).
My typical work schedule is from 10 am to 7 pm. When I don’t work from home and I have to travel to the office; I get home around 8 pm sometimes with no dinner ready. Not only was I in a state of ‘hangry’ on these days, but I would usually place an order for food spending $30-$40 on dinner twice a week and once on the weekend for fun. The monthly shopping and planning was a way I hoped to alleviate this hangry experience (and selfishly allow my husband the tools he needed to start dinner before I arrived home). With a plan, he would know exactly what was on the menu (with a link to the recipe) and wouldn’t have the excuse of I didn’t know what your plan was… (my plan is always to just eat food).
The MOST important part of a monthly grocery stop is the planning phase. Based on my google searches, a family of 3 typically spends between $300 and $700 a month on groceries. My goal was no more than $350 per month and $25 for weekly fresh food. So a menu was made with a budget in mind for every meal. I also know that I get lazy in the week. Have I mentioned I’m 8 months pregnant with a 1.5 year old? Most nights, after a full day of work and mommying, I don’t have the energy to make a 3 course meal. 3 nights a week I would write in something easy like frozen pizza, a crock pot meal, pasta, or Soup and Grilled cheese. This “lazy” side of me helped keep the cost down too.
Thanks to Handmade in Heartland’s blog post, I was able to create an effective calendar.
Here are a few tips I used from her blog:
- Choose a Theme for every day of the week.
- Monday = Chicken
- Tuesday = Turkey
- Wednesday = Vegitaraian
- Thursday = Beef
- Friday = Pizza
- Saturday = Something extraordinary
- Sunday = Soup
- Write in all the days you’ll be out of the house
- I knew we had a few weekends with plans so I wrote in when we would eat out of the house or need to pack a lunch. The peach festival was a must for the Pulled Pork Peach sandwich made by our favorite local food truck. So I wrote that in.
- August 31st in my birthday – We’re going out!
- August 26th was my cousin’s Wedding = Free food.
- Write your Grocery list as you plan. This way you can ensure you aren’t missing anything.
Tips from Me while planning:
- Check your stock of necessities. My monthly grocery shopping meant being prepared for the run out of toilet paper, paper towels, dish detergent, etc.. Unfortunately, this month I didn’t account for trash bags.
- Use an excel sheet.
- This helped me in more ways than one. My September planning went much faster because I copied and pasted my favorite meals. I could share it electronically with my husband so he was fully in the loop.
- Write in snacks. You don’t realize how much you really want your evening bowl of ice cream until your freezer is empty! Try not to eat it all in the first 15 days.
Grocery shopping once a month suddenly became a family affair. We needed 2 carts to account for our groceries. While our 2 hour grocery visit was tiring, it was the most satisfying experience. We primarily went to Walmart because their prices tend to be the best. This month, I’ve ordered my groceries for pick up which I’m excited to experience in 2 days! (PROBLEM: They don’t accept coupons for grocery pick up – lame).
Sundays were chosen for my weekly $25 fresh food pick up. My $25 dollar budget stretched into $30 because we really like eating fresh fruits and Veggies, especially when they’re local. I’ve accounted for that this month.
This month, I’ll also be stopping at our new local Lidl store. Their opening day is August 31st which means they have extra sales!! I’ve compared the prices of Walmart to Lidl and written a list for which items were cheaper. Savings will total $10 for 3 items. Every little bit counts.
Did We Save Anything?
YES! At first, it didn’t feel like it. One large bill vs 4 small bills for groceries plus eating out was intimidating. After crunching the numbers we’ve come out saving over $1,000.00 this month!
|Item||Number of Times per Week||Average Cost||Total|
|Daily Lunch out for Tim/myself||7||$10||$70.00|
|Coffee/Drinks for 2||6||$5.00||$30.00|
The above chart doesn't account for extra snacks bought at weekly grocery shopping trips and wasted food bought.
Adjustments were made to my monthly budget to allow for items like toilet paper and shampoo. This raised my budget to a monthly stop of $400.00 and weekly allowance of $35.00 for fresh food.
PRO’s and CON’s
I’d like to think there were more PRO’s than CON’s this month. My biggest weakness was gaining the willpower to not eat all of our snacks in the first few weeks. My greatest enjoyments of this month was less worrying and more evening family time. Having a schedule made for our meals really helped me identify when I could have quality time with my husband and son. I also found that my energy levels increased because my meals were more balanced and I was doing a lot less evening rushing.
|Worrying about a nightly meal once a month||The will power to avoid getting chocolate throughout the month.|
|One large payment a month||Falling into the trap of eating all the snacks in the first 2 weeks|
|SAVING MONEY||Doesn’t leave much room for Sick days or cravings|
|Allowance for Weekly fresh food||Not getting weekly sales at grocery stores|
|Happier every evening because the stress of planning a meal was aliviated||Need for exttra storage|
|Monthly cleaning of the fridge||last minute friend/family dinner’s weren’t accounted for.|
|Having leftovers for lunch every day.|
|A working relationship in the home for cooking|
|More time with your family!|
Do’s and Don’ts
- DO Remember that sometimes your cooking is going to be SO good that there won’t be any leftovers. Have quick items ready for packing lunches. PB&J was our go-to.
- DO keep the stables in your pantry stocked. To me this included brown sugar, chocolate chips, sugar, flour, butter, eggs, oils, etc.. Having these things on hand helped me not go out when I wanted to buy a snack.
- DON’T make yourself stressed out. If the process is too stressful for you, try bi-weekly. Having a plan has really helped me alleviate stress I didn’t know I was holding. Give yourself a break!
- DO allow a few flex days a month -this will give you the ability to create a quick meal in the face of emergency. Sometimes on Thursday’s I would be so tired from the week that we would do pizza night a day early. So I swapped meal days.
- DO keep a running list of items that need to be restocked. Things like kitchen sponges or laundry detergent.
- DO invest in a garage freezer
- DON’T overwhelm yourself with lots of elaborate meals