Once-A-Month Shopping

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Note: For many years now, Once a Month Shopping has been a part of our family’s shopping routine; even before we had a large family.  Here is where it all began…

Part 1 of Once-a-Month Shopping ~

As I sat down today to work on my shopping list, I thought some of you might be interested in how I do it. I’ll be posting this in segments under Large Family Living, but even if you don’t have a large family, you can definitely benefit from shopping only once a month and using master lists to do so.

Shopping once a month came about for me after having my 4th child. I also had recently added my 2nd oldest child to our homeschooling routine and life was just too busy at home to leave the house much. Something about that 4th child threw me for a loop. All my routines and ways of doing things no longer worked. I had to revamp nearly all my daily activities from cleaning to cooking to shopping. I am one of those women who can easily discern the PROBLEM, but can rarely find the SOLUTION on her own. However, I am very adept at searching for a solution and asking tons of questions from many different sources until I find an answer that works for my particular problem.

Shopping was one of these problems.

I knew I absolutely could not shop every week. My husband had generously offered to do the shopping for me, but in reality, he did not have the time for this either, and I much preferred for him to spend that precious time at home with us.

So, for many months, we just “got by” without any rhyme or reason to our shopping habits. Those of you who have tried to “just get by” with certain things in your life,  realize this type of living begins to suck the joy out of other areas of your life.

For me, it was cooking.

I rarely had the right ingredients for ANYTHING; therefore, I didn’t want to cook ANYTHING. Meals became a hodge podge of mostly junk. I knew something had to change. But what? {Remember, I am very able to see the PROBLEM.}

One day, while our family was visiting a family twice our size, I began to pick the mama’s brain. She graciously shared her “secret” with me and it has become our own secret of success.

It was so incredibly simple, I could hardly believe it.

It was to shop once a month.

Now, we’ve all heard of COOKING Once-A-Month, but shopping once a month seems utterly impossible. (I will admit that cooking once a month for me seems utterly impossible as well…maybe someday I’ll try it, but for now, I prefer to cook on an as-needed basis).

My friend said there are even some months they can go 6 weeks without shopping again; however, they do tend to feel like an “out-house” at that point…”out” of everything. She has floor to ceiling shelving that accommodates this major shopping trip, and a cute little juice cubby her husband rigged up to hold all their love of juice concentrates.

As I listened to her explain the ins and outs of shopping this way, I was fascinated and a little scared. Could it really work for us? We had only 4 children to her 9. But, I was at my wit’s end and was willing to give it a try.

She gave me two more crucial pieces of information, that I will share in subsequent posts:

A Master Meal List


A Master Grocery List

I also want to add one thing before concluding this post. If you choose to shop once a month, you will still have to go out for milk and eggs and fresh produce about every other week. However, in my mind, this is much more doable than a huge shopping trip every single week, and I am more than willing to let my husband grab those few things on his way home from work.

Once A Month Shopping Series:
Intro – this post
Master Meal List
Master Grocery List
Shopping Day
FREE Once a Month Shopping Master Grocery List

21 Comments on Once-A-Month Shopping

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21 thoughts on “Once-A-Month Shopping

  1. We do the same thing, but I ‘m looking forward to seeing how it works for you and if I can do it better with some new tips. My life was CRAZY before we went to the once a month shopping…now we are just crazy for other reasons..haha!

  2. Hi,I have recently started shopping once a month, in the battle against high gas prices. It costs $8 in fuel each time I make a trip to town. To combat those once a week trips for milk & eggs, is it possible for you to have a few laying hens to provide you with eggs? Maybe a dairy goat for fresh milk? It can be fun to try & come up with creative ways to NOT go to the store!

    • With the investment of a nice sized upright deep freeze, I’ve found that my family saves more time and money. You can freeze gallons of milk when they go on sale as well as cheese, butter, bread and even eggs. (The eggs you have to take out of the shells first. It also helps to freeze them in ice cube trays then dump them into a gallon size freezer bag for easier storage.) The frozen eggs work great for breakfast dishes or when baking. There are just so many wonderful, frugal ways out there to save your family time and money!

  3. Oh, I can’t wait to read more. I live out in the country and #4 is on the way. we have one vehicle and it is a pain to go shopping. Thanks for sharing.~Rosa

  4. This is totally what I needed! Our groceries are getting out of hand and it’s not the easiest to go out with two babies. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Looking forward to applying the wisdom!

  5. Pingback: The Master Meal List | Raising Arrows

  6. Pingback: Stuff and Things | Raising Arrows

  7. I used to shop once a month, when we lived in a big city. Since moving to this (much!)smaller community, I still haven’t recovered from price shock (that comes from only having 2 grocery stores to choose from)enough to get back into it. You’ve inspired me though, and maybe, just maybe it would be worth the 2 hour trip once a month to go into the big city and save big bucks. Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. I have a similar system except I shop mostly online. If you life in the OH, KY, or IL you can get all your non-perishable groceries and household items from Meijer.com, which I do about once a month, then I have a standing order with greenbeandelivery.com that brings fresh (organic) produce every week. They also sell milk, eggs, meat, and bread, but I usually just get milk from the gas station nearby because it costs so much less. This does save us a lot of money – and time!

    • I have never gotten into the shopping online, but I know people who do and love it! I’d never heard of greenbeandelivery…have to look that up!

  9. I’ve actually left eggs for weeks and weeks in the fridge and nothing happens to them. They are a very shelf stable food, no need to crack and freeze.

  10. We (I) shop monthly and only get produce every other week and milk weekly. Our milk is from a local farm so that’s only a 10 minute drive as compared to grocery shopping which is 45 minutes to one store and half hour to the other.

    I was considering revamping and going bi-weekly but reading your series solidified why I shop monthly. (Time and stress) :)

  11. I love this. I shop every two weeks, in line with pay checks and use a master list and master meal plan as well. I’ll have to come back and check out all the links. I’m always looking for ways to make things more efficient and cost effective:)

  12. After reading the intro to this post, I kid you not, I double checked to make certain I wasn’t reading my own journal, LOL. The statement about your fourth throwing you through a loop?? Yeah, how does that happen!? We had that this past July with my fourth.. and I definitely get it about the hodge podge meals and getting by. I think we are on a good rotation of once month shopping and weekly produce trips to the market but I still think I am lacking in the kitchen. I guess I haven’t quite learned to juggle everything all over.

  13. We do the once-monthly shopping as well. And yes, it does not work any other way for us otherwise we end up eating junk because there are not enough fresh ingredients on hand.
    We have 4 kids. Not nearly as large as your family but large enough to not want to grocery shop once a week accept to have my hubby pick up some eggs/dairy/produce on his way home. I personally only see a grocery store once a month! We actually go to 3 different stores in one day! First, we hit Costo to buy things in bulk like ketchup (our kids will eat anything as long as there is ketchup on it) and bread if I don’t have time to make it.We have a full-size upright freezer we bought off craigslist for $60. It has been amazing! We store bread and milk and so much other stuff. After Costco, we stop at our local farm stand on our way into our own home town and buy all the fresh produce. Mostly fruits and veggies. Then we go to Winco for all our dry and baking goods. There’s a bulk section there so you don’t pay for packaging so it’s cheaper.
    When we get home, My husband brings everything in and I begin the organize. Since we cook often from mostly fresh foods, our tiny kitchen does not have adequate space for our family so my husband set up a sort of pantry “shelf” in our kitchen. Some wouldn’t like something like that out in the open but it helps me because I can always see what we have without looking in all the cupboards and I less often add unnecessary ingredients to our shopping list or forget to add something because what we already have is in my brain from seeing it multiple times a day. Since we buy a lot of baking goods and other bulk items, I needed containers to store everything. I started saving our glass/plastic jars from pasta sauce or coconut oil and washed them out and re-labeled them to hold things like dried pasta, beans or oats. I’ve had so many complements on how people like all my cute little containers. being frugal and recycling can look cute. Get familiar with Pinterest. :)
    When everything is put away, I “prep”. I wash and cut/slice/chop all my veggies and put them in freezer containers and freeze them in our garage freezer. So, anytime I want to have a healthy meal, I just grab a few handfuls of veggies, sautee them in a little olive oil and seasonings, and serve them over quinoa or rice or pasta. That’s a quick meal! Even though the one shopping day takes 3 different stores and a lot of organizing and prep work, it’s worth it and saves us time and money. Stuff is frozen nicely and doesn’t go bad. And everything is already washed/chopped so cooking is less work and more fun!
    I love how much easier it is and we eat healthier when we do things this way.

  14. I know this is a bit old, but I found your blog and this series last week. It was somewhat of a miraculous idea for me, but I have started implementing it. Last week I made one huge shopping trip that should last us much of two weeks (with our budgeting I couldn’t start off with a month in the beginning). Although I am just one shopping trip in, I can already see that this could be life-changing for our family. We aren’t super far out of town (15-25 minutes, depending on where we are going), but it is time and gas and every trip to town means trying to squeeze extra stuff in, which often leads to us not getting school done that day and often eating out or picking up pizza because we are so exhausted… Our budgeting includes my gas money, so if I can save on gas, I can have more for groceries. Yesterday I did need to go to town to get a birthday gift for one of the children, and while there I picked up a little more produce that I know we needed to get us through to next week, and made a stop at the health-food store, that I just couldn’t squeeze in on “Shopping Day” last week.
    I have tried menu planning in the past and it ultimately just doesn’t work for us in the traditional sense. What I have found works (and have re-implemented as a result of this) is having a list on the refrigerator of meals and snacks that are available. They are somewhat organized by meals that have perishable items in the fridge and need to be made sooner vs. ones that are all frozen ingredients and can be our last meals right before our next shopping day. I have been highlighting the meals as we eat them, so the list is still legible and I can then use it to plan for our next shopping trips. This has been great, especially for my husband. instead of him digging through the fridge and pantry and concocting something that no one will really eat, he can see some ideas and fix something if he is wanting to. Also, instead of coming home and saying, “that doesn’t look good tonight” he will sometimes ask in the morning, “Will you make XYZ tonight”. This is so helpful!!!!! He knows what the options are and is requesting them as opposed to something random that has me running to the store and extra time or suggesting we just go out.
    Also, we are fully self employed and own a landscape business. Although our budget works great during the spring and summer (when there is lots of work), winter comes and it all tends to fall apart. I loved your other post on shopping your pantry first. This is what I do during the winter and I have learned to make it work, but we still end up eating lots of rice, beans, and homemade bread. I already see how your once a month shopping can help me to prepare in advance and use the extra savings from gas to stock up on other staples through the spring and summer, so that when winter hits I will have a well stocked freezer and pantry and can hopefully continue with our same or similar eating habits and use the little money that comes in for produce.
    Sorry, I have written a novel… I just wanted to share how your blog post, written almost 6 years ago, is still blessing families!!!!

    • Hi Leslie! I am actually doing 2 weeks shops now too because of how much grocery prices have gone up since I originally wrote this. So glad you found this helpful!