Before I had kids, my weekly grocery shopping trip was a highlight. I would spend hours preparing…and I would visit about 5 stores, only buying the cheapest items at each store. I was giddy with excitement the whole day. This was when I was also doing coupon workshops. Man, how things change.
Now that I have kids, I have become a hermit. I stay close to home and don’t like venturing out of my
shell home. The idea of spending hours on a grocery list, visiting 5 stores, and toting two children – one who can’t walk yet and one who DOES and uses it – kinda makes me want to check myself into a loony bin. Can I get a witness?!
The last time I visited the store, Barry kept both kids and I felt like I was on a vacation – do you know how much faster you can shop alone? It’s astonishing. But anyway, I digress.
In September, it had been almost 3 weeks since I had gone to the grocery store – so I was almost out of a lot of stuff…mostly produce. I went shopping with my mom (and Andy) and came home with a GINORMOUS amount of stuff. And I said to myself, “Self, you could probably go a whole month on this food.” Bingo – the idea was born.
I did not go shopping in September with the idea that it would be for a whole month, but when I got home, I decided I would try to see if I could make it…so, I waited a whole month and guess what? I ran out of stuff…but we didn’t starve. And I even had a little bit of grocery budget left at the end of the month. Cha-CHING!
So, I started picking my friend Anne’s brain – she’s the genius behind Authentic Simplicity and the author of Your Grocery Budget Toolbox. Anne does this same method of grocery shopping and she was just the cheerleader I needed to get started.
If this idea appeals to you, you might want to check out her ebook, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox – I read the chapter on Once a Month Shopping and that’s how I got started. It’s a great and easy read and it will really help you wrap your mind around the idea.
So, in October I started my “real” Once a Month Shopping since September was just a fluke. I followed the advice in the eBook and I kept my list, writing down when I was low on something. I also tried to keep track in my head of how much we went through so I would know how much to buy. When I was ready, I made my list, printed my coupons from Deal Seeking Mom’s Database and headed to the store with my mom in tow because she keeps me from doing dumb stuff in public.
I stayed about $60 under budget – I kept that $60 with Anne’s advice, so when I was toward the end of the month and low on produce, I could send Barry to pick up some fresh stuff – and not me, because if I saw a sale, I would be tempted to buy 20 cans of tuna. I only visited two stores: Kroger and Sam’s Club.
In this trip, I also included any toiletries or other stuff that we needed…which isn’t much because we don’t use many disposable items and I make a lot of stuff at home. In my list, I also made sure to include a good bit of frozen produce and fruit so that when I ran out of fresh, I would have a back-up.
Honestly, I was afraid I would go over budget…which is impossible when you use cash. You either have it or you don’t. I kept it under budget…which was shocking to me. Even without shopping sales – just by shopping smart.
I did NOT include my online shopping – that’s in a separate place – but I do only shop once monthly online as well…so I can combine shipping. I usually just keep things in my cart on websites so I don’t forget what I need.
So far, we’re doing well…and I really, REALLY like this method. I will be doing an update after we’re 100% done with our first official month so you can see how it went and if we ran out of anything…and if I’ll keep doing it. Chances are, I will. I like being at home – if I do something dumb here, no one sees it.