I left a comment on Carrie's blog today and then she e-mailed interested in how I limited my trips to the grocery store. I do a big shopping trip once a month. I did a previous post on shopping once a month. The thing that is most important in doing most of your shopping once a month is menu planning. I use to plan my meals once a week and found that I would be missing something or would get lazy and not make a plan. Both of these things cost me money.
My solution is to make a monthly menu plan. At the beginning of the month (or the week before) I will do a quick inventory of my pantry and freezer. I then print out a blank menu for the month. I sit down and plan a meal for each day of the month. I make sure to mark the number of dinners that we budget to eat out that month. (To be honest this is something that I am working. It is easy to have those spontaneous meals out. )
Beside shopping once a month I have been trying to do some bulk shopping to stretch the budget. The thing about this is that you have to have a little room in your budget as the initial purchase is a more.
After the items are broken down the price is less per normal package. I also keep a well stocked pantry and freezer. I am a huge advocate of having a stockpile of food for hard times. We never know when there will be a job loss or natural disaster.
Now that my menu is complete and my pantry and freezer are well stocked I am ready for the month. I don't use my menu in any order. The day or night before I will look at my menu and decide what to have.
As I make a meal I will mark it off. I only plan dinner. Lunch is usually leftovers or I wing it. I will sometimes make a note at the bottom of the menu with some lunch ideas.
I know that some things will need to be eaten first. Grapes and bananas are the first fruits eaten. I also make sure to prep my fruits and veggies soon after the shopping trip. I like to wash my lettuce and make salad stored in Mason jars. It seems to last longer this way.
I also use my freezer to stretch things. I sometimes will freeze fresh veggies until I am ready to use them. I also make up meal bags. One month I made soup. I cooked extra meat and then bagged it and some fresh cut carrots to use in a pot pie later in the month.
I try to limit my trips to twice a month. Once for my big shopping trip and then again mid-month for milk and fresh fruit and veggies if needed. You'll notice I said try. Some months I am better at this then others. I do know that the months I plan well and stay out of the store the grocery budget is lower.
This is what is currently working for me. As with anything it is constantly changing and being tweaked to meet the needs of my life.
May your day be filled with joy and contentment.
***I had a question asked: "What is Find It, Fix It?" I thought I could answer it here in case someone else was wondering. I reserve that for nights when I have a headache, am super tired or just don't feel like being in the kitchen. Basically everyone is one their own. You can eat whatever you want for dinner. Megan loves this as it means she can have PB&J or her beloved noodles with Parmesan cheese! This is also a great way clear the frig of leftovers. I gleaned this idea from my sister and it is big hit with her kids also.***