Here’s the backstory: Simple Mom recently posted A Basic Guide to Menu Planning, in which she describes her method of planning meals and menus. It’s very simple and easy, but it involves planning in advance. I left a comment saying that I do the opposite- I plan after I do the shopping. People wanted more information about how that works, so here it is.
I started grocery shopping every two weeks for a very simple reason: the local grocery store offers â‚¬5 in store credit for every â‚¬50 spent. If I shop once a week, I spend â‚¬85, shopping every two weeks I seem to spend â‚¬150, occasionally I spend â‚¬200. This saves me money overall on the monthly budget (â‚¬400), and earns me a considerable amount in cash back. I have found that when I go to the grocery store more often, I spend more money overall- it’s as simple as that. Shopping less often saves me money, and I don’t have to battle my way through the crowds nearly as often… another, hidden, bonus.
How I go grocery shopping
I try to have certain staples on hand at all times. When I start getting low, or open the last jar of something, I write it on the list so that I can buy it on the next shopping trip. Some example: flour, sugar, cornmeal, eggs, canned corn, canned tomatoes, milk, cream, coffee, mayonnaise, yogurt, butter, tortillas, frozen vegetables, fresh vegetables, fruit, cheese, wine, cat food, toilet paper, diapers, breakfast food etc etc. Probably the same sort of stuff you buy. Stuff I never buy? Soda, candy, chips or any junk food. I do buy a few preprepared frozen mixes (pasta in a bag, frozen chili, that sort of thing) for days when I’ll be really busy.
Because I tend to buy the same stuff over and over, I have a pretty good idea of what meals we can make from what we have. And because I buy from a list, I know what’s missing in order to make the meals I’m pretty sure I’m going to make. After I put everything away, I take a few minutes and write down all the meals that I can make from the food we have. This takes about five minutes. I put the list on the side of the fridge, and every afternoon about two PM I take a look and see what I feel like cooking. I do this in the afternoon because I’m not working at the moment, but obviously it can be done at any moment of the day or night.
Here is an example of the meals that we will eat over the next eight days, until I do the shopping again. The best part is that I’m not tied down to a specific meal on a certain night- I can pick and choose as I go along.
- Fettucini with salmon and zucchini
- Quesidillas with rice and beans
- Pasta salad with green beans, garbanzo beans, cheese and ham
- hamburger patties with Brussels sprouts and mac n cheese (a real treat, imported from the US)
- Pasta with spinach tomato sauce
- Fish cakes made with leftover mashed potatoes and cucumber salad
- Chicken, vegetable and rice soup
- Pasta with carrots, roasted red pepper and parmesan
- Tuna patties, broccoli and corn bread
You can see that we eat a lot of the same sort of food: fish, pasta and veggie side dishes. These are all kid tested and kid approved… chez moi, at least! Lunch is often leftovers.
But what about fresh food?
I buy plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as frozen and canned. The trick to not have it spoil is in when you eat it. You won’t see any fresh green salad in the above meal plan, because we ate that last week. On the other hand, the carrots, zucchini and red peppers will both last a long time in the fridge, and the other vegetables were frozen.
And trying new foods?
If I find a new recipe that I really want to try, I write the recipe down on next week’s plan and any necessary ingredients on the shopping list. I don’t really like cooking to recipes however, just like I don’t like sewing to a pattern, and so I find my inspiration most often in the fresh ingredients at the grocery store.
This system works for me- will it work for you?
Other Grocery and Food Related Posts at Almost Frugal