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So it’s that time and I honestly get excited about it. In our household (family of 4 and a pet), we get paid once per month, which means that we have to be pretty tight with our budget. As soon as bills come out (automatic payments), it feels like we have little left for the next four months. One of the things I started doing eleven years ago was minimize my grocery shopping. I did so by grocery shopping once a month.
When I say this to people, their eyes bug out. They can’t believe that I shop once per month. Then I correct them. When I say that I shop once per month, I mean that I do a major grocery trip for the whole month. This includes all of our meats, veggies (the frozen ones), dairy products, and toiletries. Then two other times that month, I go to the farmer’s market or store for fresh fruits and “special veggies” like ingredients for a salad or squash.
Doing this has a been a beautiful financial blessing in our household. Because our paychecks come during the major sales at stores, our bills are between $350-$500 per month. On the times where I don’t catch a major sale (or if I want some fancy meals that month), our grocery bill will reach $700. Again, this includes toiletries, household cleaning products, etc. The only thing that this number doesn’t include is our dog food, which has increased in the past few months. Planning is key.
How do I do it?
A great friend of mine taught me ways to plan for food for the month. Meal planning. Now, you can do this multiple ways: choose a new meal for each day; choose a new meal by weekly themes; or rotate meals. In our house, I plan 12-15 dinners and make them twice that month. First, I shop my pantry, deep freezer, and refrigerator. After that, I’ll adjust my meal plan, based on what we already have. For breakfast and lunch, my family only likes a few things, so I’ll make the same lunch or breakfast 3-5 times per month. Because meat is expensive, I am going to add black beans to some of my beef meals. That way, I can stretch the meat. So here’s what our month of meals looks like for July (minus one week at the beach):
*In my freezer and pantry, I already had black beans and red beans that I cooked from dry a month ago. I also had two extra bags of peas, three bags of frozen blueberries, half of a large bag of rice, sugar, all of my spices, a jar of garlic, eight chicken thighs, and a container of grits.
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Dirty Rice and Green Peas
Pizza Pasta and Peas (leftovers next day)
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli
Southern Shrimp and Grits
Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans
Tuscan Chicken over Rice with carrots
Homemade Beeferoni and Salad (leftovers next day)
Tater tot casserole (1x)
Lunches (3x this month each)
Hamburger, tater tots, and fruit
Turkey Sandwich and chips
Hotdogs, tater tots, and fruit
Chicken nuggets, corn, and fruit
Burritos and carrots
Breakfast (2-3x each month)
Blueberry pancakes, eggs, and bacon (already have frozen blueberries)
Sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits and fruit
Hash brown casserole
German pancakes topped with fruit
I based my grocery list off the meals and I added tea, soda, paper towels (I haven’t fully gotten into cloth kitchen towels), and toilet tissue (the big box). Since I’ve been doing this for years, I can gauge how much I’ll need of certain things, such as eggs and beef. Some months, I’ll bulk shop at major stores. Other months, I’ll shop at a few local stores with great sales.
Over all, this system has worked wonders for my family and me. I have to learn how to coupon a lot better, but so far, so good! What works for you and your family?