December 29, 2012 by heathernwelch
At the end of each month, I start to plan meals for the following month. I come up with about 25 meals and list them out on a piece of paper. I try to get a good variety of proteins and several new meals that I haven’t yet attempted. Then, stemming from that list, I make an ingredient list. Here is my different categories for my list: every month needs (chicken nuggets, juice, cereal, breakfast bars, cheese, etc.); things that need replenished (goldfish, seasonings, flour, sugar, etc.); the first week and a half of fresh fruit and veggies; household items (toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc.); and the ingredient list.
A couple of years ago, I started to just do a major shopping trip at the beginning of the month and then do a weekly grocery trip to buy fresh food (i.e. milk, fruits, veggies, bread). It has really saved me time and stress. It is a lot to sit down and plan out at the beginning of the month, but by doing so, there is much less work to do later in the month.
I do my shopping at Aldi, Sams, Wal-Mart, and Kroger, in that order. I buy as much as I can at Aldi and that saves us a ton of money. I love Aldi! I have regular things that I get at Sams like chicken, tortilla chips, gold fish and a few others. I usually buy the rest at Wal-Mart. If I am feeling picky, which I usually am, I get my fresh fruit and veggies at Kroger. I know that this seems like a lot of shopping, but if you have the time, it really does save money. I usually can pull off all the shopping in 2 and a half hours.
The planning takes me a couple of hours, but I never get it done in one sitting. I also love trying new recipes, so I end up scanning Pinterest for new recipes. This may sound dorky, but I also have a spreadsheet in Excel with our favorite meals in it. So, if I am having a hard time thinking of meals to make, I just open it up and grab a few ideas. We also have several meals we eat every month (i.e. tacos, stir-fry, wraps, pasta). I always ask the hubs what he wants to eat during the month and for needs he has for work.
This is what I do once a month and it has worked out to save us money and me time. I almost never have to do a big shopping trip with the kiddos and that is very important to me. I hope this post helps. If you have any ideas on how I can improve my system, please leave a comment. I am always looking to improve my systems!