Meal planning and grocery shopping

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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!

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