Monday, October 08, 2012

Once A Month Menu Planning

My darling sister in law asked me to share how I menu plan and shop for a month at a time. I quickly emailed her back and gave her way too much information. Then, my far away friend, Miranda, texted me and asked me to share it here on the blog. So, I thought - why not!!!! I am 100% aware that this type of planning isn't for everyone. In fact, it hasn't always been for me! Our family is at a stage in life where going to the store with two young ones isn't the most effective method and we are on a budget...planning and buying ahead help us stick to it!

So - what do you do if you want to plan out your meals for a month and then do all (or most...I'll share that part in a bit) of your shopping at once?

Well, the very first thing we do is figure out our grocery budget for the month. We also figure a separate amount for our house items since we buy those monthly as well. Once we have a set budget for each, we take out about $100 (of our grocery budget) and divide the rest of our budget up between however many weeks there are in that month. That gives us about $25 a week extra for fresh fruits and veggies or milk that just don't last for a whole month in our house! The goal is to NOT use all the "extra" money...of course sometimes we have to, but it is kind of neat to know we've saved a bit each month! So - although we do the bulk and majority of our grocery shopping at the beginning of every month I might still hit up the store once a week! It's always a quick trip though!  

Before I step foot in a store, I do a lot of planning. Some people might want to run away after hearing that, but I actually really like it. :) The absolute #1 thing I do each month is look and see what is left over in the freezer or pantry from the last month. I plan meals around those ingredients first for the month! We are so fortunate to get our meat from my parents and that means lots of yummy steaks, roasts, and hamburger meat are ready for us to use! 

Knowing what we already have on hand helps me get started on the real planning. I keep a blank month calendar (you can find mine here), my recipe binder, and grocery list in front of me.


We follow a loose schedule around our house which makes this step even easier!!! 

As I fill in our month calendar, I look at the recipe. I write down every single thing I need to buy to make that meal happen. I also consider whether or not the month ahead has any special situations or circumstances where I might need to bring a meal or dish or dessert to a function.

Once I have all of the ingredients down on my grocery list, I look at it and break it down into what can or should be bought at Sam's. For instance, we always buy their big bags of shredded cheese. When I get home I divide them into 2 cup portions and use my Seal-A-Meal to keep them fresh. I just throw them in the freezer and then lay them out the morning before I'll need them for a meal. We also buy our chicken there since one of their 12 lb bags will last us a month (sometimes more!) Last month I bought sugar there since I knew I'd be doing a lot of fall baking!

So, now I have two separate shopping lists. One for Sam's and the other for WalMart. Why do I shop at WalMart? I really hate it there, but...they price match. And guys, I've done the coupon's not for me. I'll still use a coupon here or there, but I've found that price matching works for our family. I am lucky to get all the area grocery stores ads sent to my mailbox so I will look through them all and as I see items that I already have on my grocery list I will circle them with a dark marker! I do not do this part first because I don't want to be lured into buying something I normally wouldn't because it is on "sale"! Whether you type your master grocery list up or write it doesn't matter. What matters is that you make sure to write beside the item you need if it has a price match! I always include what store I am price matching to and the sale price. This saves SO much headache as you are checking out in WallyWorld. I still like to take the sale ads with me to the store in case the checker has any questions. I just put them behind my grocery list on my clipboard. 

I don't take my kids with me when I shop like this. Period. I love them but I would lose my mind. I do take my thermal reusable shopping bags and ice packs! Since I hit up at least two stores in one shopping trip I don't want any of the food I just paid good money for to go bad!

When I come home I unpack everything and divide portions up if need be. Then I get a glass of iced tea and sit on my couch and watch some good mind numbing tv! 

I hope that helped you if you are considering shopping for a month at a time! Every family is different so be sure and add your own spin to it and give it takes a bit of practice to figure out how menu planning and shopping for the month work best for your family!


  1. Loooooooove this! Thank you so much for sharing your strategy! I'm really wanting to give this a try - Starting November 1, I'm doin' it! :)

    I'm going to share this post on my Blog FB page - I hope you don't mind! I think it's an awesome post for all the wives & momma's out there!

    1. Oh absolutely! Thank you for sharing!!!!

  2. YOU ARE AMAZing!!! I have to figure something out. This once a week thing is getting old. Maybe I'll go to every two weeks, but this will definitely help me!!
    Thank YOU!!!!!!

    1. Hahah! Well, I'm definitely not amazing, but I do love only having to think once a month about what's for dinner!!!

  3. Wow! This is really awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain it! I'm going to have to figure out a way to make it work for me. :)