Monday, August 30, 2010

Once-a Month Shopping: Going to the Store

O.K. it's shopping day! Are you ready? After feeding my family a big breakfast and setting them up with snacks and drinks for the day (and the unpacking stage when I get home!), I head out.

I. Alone. All by myself. This calls for celebration, so I scrounge around in my coupons and make sure I get me a treat of some sort. This is when I use those Free coupons for a drink or something special that I can't use when the kids are with me.

O.K. that didn't have much to do with shopping, but this is my only day out by myself once a month, so I make it worthwhile!

I group the stores by location and try to stop by the one with the most frozen stuff last. I rarely go to more than 4 and often only to 3.

I don't want to mislead you when I say monthly grocery shopping. I do make short runs on the in-between weeks for fresh produce and anything I may have forgotten or misjudged how much we would use when making my initial list. These are short in and out trips in which my children usually don't have time to start goofing off, throwing fits or punches in the aisle.

If I really had to, I could skip all the trips altogether and use frozen veggies and fruits. That is because I freeze all milk, bread, tortillas, shredded cheese and butter for the month. All of these items freeze fine along with meat I won't be using right away. I even freeze lunch meat and snack items like chips or Little Debbies, although the snacks usually are good for a month anyway. Things like eggs, sliced cheese and cream cheese often have dates for a month ahead, so those keep fine in the fridge. If the date comes before the end of the month, I just pick those things up on one of my short weekly runs.

I run through all my stores as quickly as possible. I am usually gone 2-3 hours at the most. If a store is very close to home, I might drop off some things before I go out to another one. Otherwise, I get it all at once and bring it home and put it away. Since we try not to get too much packaged food (other than my husband's lunch things and some canned goods), I can fit things pretty easily into my pantry, fridge and half freezer upstairs. I use my full-size freezer in the basement for things we won't be using in the first week and one shelf nearby for snacks and canned goods that won't fit upstairs.

The shopping trip itself is just a little bit longer than my weekly shopping trips, but it is not 4 times as long by any means! I have finished shopping for a whole month and don't have to worry about planning, running out of things or making lengthy shopping trips with kids for the next 30 days!

The bonus is I usually only spend a little over half of my monthly budget when I shop this way, so I have almost half of my budget left to spend on subsequent weeks, save, or splurge on eating out or an occasional order out pizza. 

How about you? Do you shop weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? How does it work best for you?


  1. I have been shopping weekly or bi-weekly for my family of 3. If I go weekly it is just for the things like milk, yogurt, or things we are out of and need. We don't have a deep freezer although I would love to get one, so I try to only get what I can store, which is a good bit. :) Have you read the Once a Month Cookbook? In that book you basically shop one day and cook one day and you have dinners for your family for a whole month. I have tried several of the recipes and they are excellent. :)

  2. I have seen the OAM Cookbook. It always sounds like a great idea, but other than doubling up meals and putting one in the freezer, I've never tried it. It's just too overwhelming to me at this point, like I mentioned in the first post. Trying a few of the recipes sounds like a good idea, though. I could at least make a few for the freezer and save myself some time that way. Thanks for the comment and the suggestions.