Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Melissa- once a month shopping

Hi Melissa!
This post explains "how" I shop.

I do visit several stores and I take two days to get it all done. It isn't a whole lot longer than an average shopping trip for me, given that I live far from town. I just buy bigger quantities. I often call the local grocer to have it all waiting for me and that way I also know that its fresh. (fresh apples, meat freshly ground etc)

This post tells what I do to 'get ready'.

This post has a brief breakdown of the "how" I did it about a year and a half ago. I've changed a little and it doesn't take as long now.

Kroger takes me the longest since I use as many coupons as I possibly can. This may or may not be worth it to you, depending on what you buy. Kroger has a program that offers savings on gas, and their meat and produce are really good, and they often have markdowns- so- it is worth it to me. However, the bulk meat deals that I get, ground beef and chicken, usually come from my "local" store.

Fresh produce;
during the past few summers, my garden has supplied much of that and that's been a tremendous blessing. During the winter, I buy as much as I THINK I can fit. Buying things that keep longer, as well as those that do not, helps too. Such as carrots, cabbage, root veggies. About 2 weeks after the main shopping trip, I will have to go get milk and eggs, I also will try to get whatever produce is on sale. My menu plans are usually kept open about the veggies. I try to fix at least 2, sometimes 3 at every meal. ...I also buy up on frozen veggies when they are on sale. Some stores have corn, peas, etc all the time at $1 per 16oz bag. Kroger runs sales at $1 but they have recently dropped the size of the pkg to 12 oz, so I watch for that type of thing, little sneaks!

Other times, you may notice in my menu plans that fresh produce is eaten more during the first 2 weeks and the last two weeks, there will be more freezer veggies in the plan.

If I see that my apples are not going to last, I make applesauce and juice and can it.
I do this to save time and money. It is easier on my whole family, especially DH who watches the younger kiddies while I shop.

I have a regular side by side fridge. I do cram it full being careful not to block the vent at the top or it won't keep cold. I have one deep freeze and I'm begging for a second. I want it to store garden food as I want a bigger garden next year. I also want to do more advanced cooking for those times when quick food is needed.

Weekly sales; many times I do leave some extra in my budget to run get milk, eggs, and the weekly produce sales. The first week of the month is USUALLY the biggest and best sales so I try to plan the once a month shopping trip for that week. There might be a few items that run through the rest of the month that I sometimes miss, but I've usually found the first week to be the best.

The ease and blessing of having food here when people are hungry is worth much. As you know, having a family of 8 makes for a BIG ticket, even at a fast food place if you find yourself in a fix. One meal at a fast food place can cost $40 easy. This is one reason that I started shopping like this as well as trying to keep baked goods readily available. I would find myself digging through the cupboards in a daze, lol.

Now I have one to 4 weeks set out as far as what I will cook. The remainder (I don't always plan a full 30 days to the T, somtimes I plan just one or two weeks and buy staples) - I know I have basics on hand and a dozen or so family favorite recipes that can be put together fairly quickly.

-We have considered a second fridge too but I told DH a freezer would be better. I was afraid that I would end up with more produce than I could use and there would be more waste- however, it would make for storing more of my wacky homemade drinks and more leftovers.

other things-
2 week menu:

A month's menu:

2 posts of my notebooks that I "map out" my shopping and can click to enlarge:

Hope that helps! I'd be happy to answer any other questions. Hope I didn't over-bombard you with answers! :-)

I could not fit all of this in a reply.
Also, I may try to take a camera one day and take pics for fun of my shopping trip.


Anonymous said...

Wow! This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to put this post together. I just copied and pasted the links so they worked just fine. I would love to see pics of one of your shopping trips. I'm sure it feels nice to know you have enough food for your family for a whole month. You are not stuck without when you have bad weather or illness. I kind of shop like you except I'm doing it on a weekly basis. So I am going to several different stores every week and it isn't working for me. I think I will try to do two weeks and then three to see if I can ease myself into this as winter is coming. Great things to think about! Thank you :)


Donna said...

You are very welcome!
You bring out a great point about the weather- also there is less opportunity to pick up germies! :-)

I used to go to more stores than I do now. I've found that several could be cut out. If there's not a significant reason to go there- I won't- AND if there's an "advertised" price on one or two items, I can comp them at Walmart!
For example; IGA has great home grown produce in the spring and part of the summer. The rest of the time, its not that fresh. The meat is only on sale one or two times a year and the rest of their items can be bought at a better price at the new Aldi. So, I near never go there anymore.

I used to make CVS and Walgreens part of this- not anymore. I have found basics at Walmart and unless there's a big sale on something that I can't comp, I don't go anymore. I can't save enough to make that trip worth it.

We all have to do what's best and what works for our home. I just found that I could not go once a week anymore, with the drive there and back taking an hour. It just took too much out of my days! I couldn't be gone and cook too :-) and it was too stressful to try to prepare, as there are enough days that already require that!
Hope you find what works best for you and your family!

Millie said...

I'm glad that Melissa asked this question.
Following your inspiration my goal this month was one big shopping day. I went to three stores and spent about 4 hours in town (with the baby). It was challenging to get all of my purchases to fit in the car! And then to get everything to fit in the fridge and freezer (I just have a side by side). It became even more interesting a couple of days later when our beef CSA was delivered. But I love that the bulk of the shopping was done. I had figured on still getting eggs from the farmer I get milk from along with my weekly fresh milk supply. Sadly, the hens aren't laying well with the cold so yesterday another shopping trip was needed for eggs, pasta and garlic (I was happy to just send a list for pick up though instead of doing it myself). I think I will need to shop again next week since I estimated way low on the amount of butter that we go through (I bought 5 pounds and we have only half of that left) and will need store milk and possibly some veggies. I took your suggestion though and bought veggies with a long shelf life in addition to the short life like lettuce. I did make a dinner menu for the entire month and a list of about 14 breakfasts we like. I don't plan lunches since the kids eat at school and Joe at work it is just baby and me and we have leftovers usually. I know what you mean about snacks and I'm feeding girls!
I'm doing a month long tracking of my food budget to see where we can make improvements and still improve the quality of the food we eat. I'm not sure how it will turn out since we have a house guest currently (9 days total) and my 19 year old daughter and her husband will be here in a couple of days. They will be staying in our camp trailer until they get on their feet and will probably eat many (most) meals with us.
Sorry to be so windy but I wanted to share my experience with you and let you know how much that I appreciate the tips you provided. You rock Donna!

Donna said...

Woo Hoo Millie!
I can't believe you did it with the baby! Way to go! 4 hours is pretty good time- especially with the baby!!!

I'm jealous of your supply of fresh milk and eggs! ;-) I can't find milk anywhere close and eggs come and go but not steady.

I know its tough to cram everything in! Whew! It is a job. I have 2 boys who are "neat freaks" by nature and I usually have them help me with the freezer and the pantry. The fridge is the hardest! I like to do that so I know exactly where everything is and so I can make it easy to get.

I use a LOT of butter too. I often put some in the freezer because I can't fit it all in the fridge!

As far as fat- If you are able to get fresh beef or have a local butcher, you may could get beef fat/tallow to render yourself. You might could even find a good clean source of pork for lard. I get it free at Kroger! NT says they are good for you! :-)

You will probably find it easier to stretch things, even with more to feed, when everything is already there! It will be like pacing yourself in a race!

Don't forget to pray over it all Millie! :-) I know you love the Lord, and He can "keep" the food and give you wisdom on how to use it all to make the most from it! Prayer changes things! Remember the story in the O.T. about the oil not running out until she was able to get more. He's still the same God! :-) And if He cares for the sparrow and clothes the lilies of the field, He certainly will help us feed our families!!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

I've wondered how I would take pictures of all my food, since I shop like you. When I get home, I hurry up and put it away! I suppose I could take a picture of the back of the car, all stuffed full of food, lol!

Dh thought the same thing about a second fridge. Getting this second freezer last month has been a real blessing for us!

The garden really does help.

I have a friend in North Dakota who grows 90% of her produce for the YEAR, and she has a very short growing season! She freezes her chard, broccoli, etc. for later. She has 4 large apple trees and she has enough to can for sauce, juice, and pie filling, AND enough to give away! She just bought a cider press this week, which I'm sure will be a big help to her.

I'd like to get to that point myself, without having to freeze and can as much, since we have mild winters here. Sure, I saved 75% on the 400 pounds of apples I just bought, but I would love to have them all from the garden!

Anonymous said...

Well, I've been thinking through this grocery shopping once a month. Trying to figure out what the problems were the last time I tried it so I can fix them. We are temporarily (I hope) living in an apartment until spring. I can't have too much of a stockpile because it would be too costly to move. I talked to dh about it last night, and he likes the idea. I'm now trying to narrow the stores down. I would love to just do Sams, Krogers, and Aldi's, but those places either do not have or have as good of a price on dried beans and ww flour as walmart does. Since walmart is just a little bit more of a drive (but not 30 mins.!) for me I could buy several months worth at a time. My dh is also willing to run into krogers or aldi's once a week (or maybe we can make it 10 days) for fresh produce and milk.

Speaking of do you make juice from them? Do you can the juice? Apples are very cheap right now, and I'm trying to decide if it would be worth making applesauce. I can buy a 50 oz jar for under $2. I have never canned and I am wanting to start practicing before I get to plant a garden this spring so maybe I won't get overwhelmed learning how to can when I have (hopefully) a lot of produce to put up. My grandmother would have tons of jars of jellies, veggies, soup, and canned meat in her pantry that she did. I wish I had been old enough to learn from her when she was able to teach me. She could put a meal together quickly because of all of her cannned goods.


Donna said...

Brandy has a lot on her site about canning!

I make juice by cooking the cores and peels on a low simmer for several hours. I then strain, sweeten, and can. Old timers used to make apple peel jelly by making a juice from the peels. Jelly and juice are very very easy. ...With the sauce, I've had the same question as you. I would say it depends on how cheap you can get them. You could always try to make one jar just to see about what the cost would be- and use the peels and cores for juice.

Brandy gets paid sporadically, a little like we do. She buys up her apples to make sauce as the next pay time may be uncertain. You can read more about that on her site.

Perhaps you could ask around -maybe even post on freecycle- to see in anyone has free apples or pears. That is what I usually can- the free stuff!!! Or, things that are getting old or are from my garden. ..Otherwise, the store cost can be more practical at times.

Do you have a canner?

I love the old-timers! True Queens of the Kitchen!!

The Prudent Homemaker said...


My dh asked the same question about the price of sauce. I think it's worth doing, as my family can easily eat 2 quarts of applesauce at one meal. The apples have to be .50 a pound or less (free is good; if you can glean from anyone, that is good, too!) for it to really work out well for me.

Our Sam's Club has pinto beans SO much cheaper than Walmart! I buy my pinto beans in bulk. Maybe you could do one trip every 3 weeks, if need be. I used to do one trip every 10 days to 14 days, gradually working up to being able to go once a month and then eventually not at all for a very long time (when we weren't able to go). You could try going to one store each time, perhaps--Walmart this time, and Sam's next time.

I have too many things to do to spend my time shopping real often, and like you, I would rather go as little as possible.


Anonymous said...

Good morning! I have been working on my grocery list. We have the flu here so I have had lots of time to sit. :) This is a lot of money to hand over at one time. I about panicked. lol. I told my dh about my list, and he didn't seem worried at all. He said everything on there is something we are going to have to buy eventually so why not do it all at the same time and get it over with. We are running low on just about everything because I let our stock get down, because of moving. I'm planning most of my shopping around sams and many of the things on the list will not need to be bought again for several months. I have a rough menu planned out.

I do have quite a few stores I want to hit this time around because of sales. I will go to one tonight, because I'm feeling much better and the sale ends tonight. Meijers has potatoes, ham, apples, and frozen veggies at extremely good prices and I've planned several meals around this. Two of my boys haven't gotten sick yet so I'm hoping they will be able to go w/ me Monday to do the big shopping and push carts and load/unload the van for me.

I do think I will hold off on my Walmart trip until next weekend, because my son needs some new pants from there and I want to make sure we are not too tired to make good decisions on them. So technically, I won't get it all done in one weekend, but close.

I'm still unsure I will have room to put all this. I have a closet in the hallway I can re-arrange and hopefully it will be all the extra I need. I guess there is always under my bed. I would feel kind of strange having food in my bedroom. ;)


Anonymous said...

I see now that I wouldn't save money canning applesauce, but I would like to practice at anyway. I do not have a canner, and have been eyeing the steam canner on The Prudent Homemaker's site. My birthday is this month and it's what I'm asking for. I'm still trying to see if a water bath canner or steamer would be best for me for now. I want to be able to can things like pears (because Brandy made it look so doable w/ her tutorial), applesauce, jellies, and maybe even soup. Later, when I have a garden, I would like to be able to can green beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Ladies, thank you so much for having this conversation with me. It has been so enjoyable. I have appreciated this so much.


Donna said...

Best wishes to yo Melissa!

Sounds like you've got a great plan mapped out!

At the bottom of my page is a link to Glimpse of Sonshine, she usually lists Meijers sales weekly if you'd like to check out her blog. (We don't have one here.)

Hope your family feels better soon and that you can fit everything in!

Best wishes!