I read about the idea of once a month grocery shopping a while back and it has changed my life! I’ve put together a huge resource for you: why you might (and might not) want to do it, what to buy a month at a time plus a free workbook to help you get started.
The way I do it is not strictly once a month. Here’s how it works:
- Do a big grocery shopping trip at the beginning of the month for non-perishables and things that will keep for 3-4 weeks.
- Then do much smaller trips weekly to fill in the gaps for things like milk and produce.
Here’s why once a month grocery shopping is so powerful.
- You can stock up on the important things. If you front-load your shopping with key foods (meat, pantry staples, etc.) and plan out your meals, you won’t be left eating beans and rice for the last week of the month (or risk blowing your grocery budget).
- You can buy in bulk.
- You’ll save so much time! You’ll spend a little extra time planning and shopping upfront. Then you can coast right through the rest of the month with quick shopping trips.
- You’ll save money. This requires some discipline, but it can pay off in a big way. By buying in bulk and planning ahead, you’ll save money in the long run.
What grocery items can you buy a month’s worth at a time?
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Any frozen foods
Fresh meat (freeze until you need it)
Produce (store in a cool, dry place)
Paper / plastic items
zip top bags
cleaners (or make your own)
How to plan to do a once a month grocery shopping
I’ve created a set of worksheets for you to use to plan out your once a month shopping. Here’s what to do:
- Get a rough idea of the common types of meals you serve each month (oatmeal twice a week, eggs twice a week, chicken once a week, pasta twice a week, etc.)
- Jot down the ingredients for these meals
- If possible, do a price comparison for the ingredients you spend the most on
- Note which ones can be bought in bulk
- Take inventory of your current food supplies. Make your shopping list from there
- Try to arrange to shop without small children. Do a quick clean of the fridge beforehand while it’s fairly empty.
- Add in anything else you need for the first week’s worth of food (perishables + specialty ingredients)
Make room for all that food!
You may need to do a quick clean of the fridge and toss out any expired food in the pantry. And grocery bags like these are lifesavers when you have to carry all that food!
It may make sense to shop at two or even three stores for this big shop.
But the good news is that you can probably limit this extra shopping to your big shopping day and then not have to worry about it for the rest of the month! For instance, maybe cheese costs less at Costco than it does at Aldi so you put it on your Costco list (4 weeks worth). But eggs are currently $0.79 a dozen at Aldi so buy a month’s supply there.
You can also do a lot of the shopping online.
Random egg facts: Did you know that eggs can last up to 6 months? Eggs at your local store are likely to be 2 months old by the time they reach the store shelf. So there’s no fear of them going bad in your fridge. Eggs typically dry up when they’re old instead of spoiling. Source
Hint: if you’re using a meal plan like $5 Dinners 20 meals for $150, the planning process is even easier!
Once a month shopping may not work for you if:
- You’re short on food storage space. You’ll need room for all those cans, boxes and bags. You may fill up your freezer. The bigger your family, the more storage space you’ll need for a month’s worth of non-perishables. Keep this in mind when planning your shopping list!
- If you don’t plan ahead or if you don’t roughly stick to the plan. Obviously, you shouldn’t stock up on food that you don’t end up using. So, do know yourself and if you’re new to menu planning and shopping from a list, consider shopping for just 2 weeks instead of 4 until you see how you like the new system.
- This system will backfire if your family eats more food as you bring it home. For this reason, I am careful when stocking up on packaged snack foods – my kids devour them quickly if allowed! It’s easier to limit access to certain foods by only having a limited quantity in the first place. If your kids are littler or have more self control, you may have great success buying your snacks in bulk from Costco or from an online warehouse store like Boxed.
Once a month grocery shopping doesn’t mean you have to plan out meals for an entire month.
What it does mean is that you need a rough idea of how much of your basic staples you need. So how much olive oil, how much butter, how much oatmeal will last you 4 weeks. How many times a week do you eat chicken and how much do you serve at each meal? Answer questions like these and you’ll know how much you need to buy in bulk.
Want your own copy of the printable workbook?
Fill out the form below and I’ll get your PDF right over to you!