I know that some of you may not think that grocery shopping should be included with cleaning or organization. Several years ago I would have thought I was nuts too. But honestly, having my grocery shopping and menu planning organized makes my house run SO MUCH smoother. I'd be nuts not to include it in this series.
When I first got married I would go to the store and throw stuff in my cart adding it with a calculator as I went until I hit my budget for the week. Some weeks we would have enough food, some weeks we wouldn't. I started making a list. I saved alitte more money that way. Then I started menu planning for a week or 2. Again, I saved alittle more. Finally my husband and I set a grocery budget for the month rather than going week to week. That way we knew what we could spend for the whole month and it wasn't a guessing game where some weeks we had $80 and some we only had $15. At first I really failed at grocery shopping for the whole month at one time. I'd end up with a week and a half at the end of the month where I'd have to borrow from another budget to feed us. It was no fun. I tried lots of different ways of doing it and finally found the way that works for us. Now I spend $290 for our family of 4 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole month! I have been asked how. Even my Grandma that raised 5 kids of her own asks me sometimes how I do it.
First I scour the ads. I could buy a paper to get all of the ads but rather than wasting the $1.50 every month I just look online.
I write down the stores and the things that are on sale at that store that we use regularly or would use if on sale. I make sure to write the price next to the items so I don't have to go back to the ad later if another store has that same thing on sale.
This is the start of my sale list. I added another store to that.
After I find everything that is on sale I make my menu for the month.
I base the meals around the meat that is on sale. Some months we have a large variety of meat like this month. Other months we only have meals with ground beef and a few with chicken. Sometimes it's easy for me to come up with a menu. Other time it takes me an hour or more. If you'll notice I only have 26 meals in the left column. Those are dinners. I have 26 and not 30 because there are nights when we eat out or go to a friends or family member's house. The numbers are only so that I know how many meals I have. We don't eat that thing on that day of the month. I tried that once. It didn't work for us. I would decide I didn't what I had on the menu for that day so picked something different and by the end of the month it was a whole jumbled mess. So I just have a list of 26 meals that I know I have all of the items for on hand. When I make the meal I just cross it off of the list.
Lunches are alittle more free. I have around 30 lunches planned for my husband. You will notice 14 in the lunch column. But he will also have leftovers from dinners. The dinners that make left overs I have started marking with a star. That way I know on Friday night I probably shouldn't make potato soup because Casey isn't going to want to take that to work with him come Monday. He's alittle picky about left overs. It's taken me 5 and a half years to get him to eat them at all. I'm not gonna push it.
The girls and I always have a main protein item for lunch plus some kind of fresh or frozen vegetable.
I didn't used to list snacks. I thought it was silly. But I got tired of Casey asking me what we had to snack on. So I started writing it down for him.
I do not have breakfasts written on my menu. Every month I buy Casey a box of 8pkgs of poptarts, a box of 12pkgs of mini donuts, and a box of 24 waffles. That will last him the whole month at work. For the girls and I we have eggs, pancakes, biscuits, muffins, bread, toast, or whatever I can make usually with some fruit. It's usually always stuff I bake myself so the cost is minimal in the grand scheme of things.
I also make spots of special events that I know I have to bring food to for the month.
After my menu is done I make the list.
I go through each item on the menu one by one and write down what I need. I usually run to the kitchen and take a quick inventory of what I have in the cabinets. If I were more organized I would have a listed inventory of that somewhere. But I'm not.
After I make the list I color code it.
Sorry this ended up so blurry. I pick a different color for each store. I also write the sale price of the item at that store. It helps me to know if I find it cheaper somewhere else. Like today I was going to get 18oz of Blueberries at Country Mart for $4.99. That was the best advertised price. When I got to Aldi I found they had Blueberries for $.99 for 6 or 8oz. I ended up getting more blueberries for my money. Also found sugar cheaper.
I do end up grabbing things that aren't on my list. Usually it is stuff for the girls for lunch that day. I also let them pick out a snack they'd like to have in the house for the month. But aside from those few things I stick to my list.
This is my $290 bounty$28 for some more fresh produce in 2 weeks. It looks so small in this picture but it takes up half of my kitchen floor. I divide the meat in to separate meals in freezer bags. Occasionally I will divide the snacks. My fridge, freezer, cabinet, and pantry are completely packed. Later this week I will make the hot pockets that are on the menu and a few baked goods that the girls and I can have for quick breakfasts on mornings that I just don't feel like baking. Tonight I even have the chicken leg quarters in the crock pot cooking so it can be divided and stored in the freezer taking up alittle less space than before.
update: My budget doesn't include milk. We get WIC for that. If we didn't have WIC I would have to add $20-$30 to our budget for milk. We're not big milk drinkers. Not even Hayleigh.
How do you grocery shop? Let me know if you try this and how it works for your family.
Be sure to check out the other posts in the Coming Clean Series.