In’s and Out’s of Saving with Monthly Shopping

In’s and Out’s of Saving with Monthly Shopping

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As I mentioned in a recent post about our 30% savings in groceries, our mindset needed to change before we could, realistically, affect how much we spend on groceries. At the same time, I attribute the remaining portion of our savings to the act of shopping monthly.  I seem to frequently get asked how we eat so healthy and fresh with monthly shopping. I figured it was time to dig into our new schedule for groceries.

Prepping For The Shop

I have a list of 8 dinner meals that fit our budget. Each of them is simple, whole food based and liked by most of our clan. I sit down a few days before a new month and organize a mix of those 8 meals. A few of them are extremely easy to make and quick so I use those on days we have evening practices or babysitters.

At this point, I’ll take a tally of how much of each item we need for those meals. One of the best ways to keep costs down is to ensure that you are using seasonal items and recipes that have some overlap to save in bulk.

We keep breakfast pretty simple with eggs, scratch-made waffles & pancakes, avocado toast, and oatmeal. Since we have backyard chickens, most months of the year we don’t need to buy any eggs. Oatmeal & baking items are all pretty inexpensive and last a while.

Did you know you can save pre-mixed batter in the fridge for 3 days? We will make waffle someday and then 2 days later make another batch with minimal effort. So easy!

I’ve found the single cheapest option for oatmeal is on Amazon of all places (here)! We order a month’s worth of oatmeal for the best price around. I add chopped fresh fruit, a scoop of nut butter or some dried fruit and nuts and the total cost is roughly $.40 per serving.

With lunch we plan for leftovers, a few meals of tuna or sunbutter/nut butter and jam sandwiches especially for school lunches, quesadillas with nutritional yeast and then power salads. We always serve the kids veggies and fruit on the side. As you’ll see below, we have some work to do on lunch options!

Finally, I plan for our snacks. One of the best ways to cut your grocery bill is to ditch the co-venue very foods for snacks. We do buy pretzels 1 xl bag per week. These are really helpful for school lunches and make a nice and easy snack on the go. Beyond that, we buy a bulk bag of organic popcorn each month and pop our own often. Sometimes I’ll make a huge batch and have enough for the week. We spend $6 on kernels and have popcorn all month-long. Beyond these two snack foods, we eat fruits, veggies, nuts and a little cheddar cheese for snacks. Our kids are used to produce being snacks and love them. For those thinking, my kids would never do that, they will if that’s what you have. We sometimes dip veggies in nut butter or yogurt with some seasonings mixed in. Easy, healthy and budget friendly!

Time To Shop

I take my list and shop my pantry, fridge, and freezer. Since we buy some items in bulk, certain things seem to last longer than planned. This step is really quick and essential to buying only what you need and limiting your waste. We probably spend $50-$60 less per month by looking through our kitchen before making the big shop. Once I crop Hong’s off we don’t need, or just less of, it’s time to do the one big shop.

All of our meat comes from a monthly meat share delivery that comes from local farms. We have made the decision to eat less meat of better quality so while it’s less than we may want, we make it stretch throughout the month with a few lbs per week. We do sometimes buy additional bacon at Whole Foods Market but only if it’s on sale. As mentioned above, we also spend minimally on Amazon for bulk oatmeal (here).

Finally, I head to WFM for a monthly shop. I don’t buy produce for the month, just everything else we’ll need. This allows me to buy things in bulk and makes life so easy. So what about produce? I buy a week’s worth of fresh produce at a time with a budget of $50 per week. This covers all of our fruit, veggies and any necessities we ran out of that last week, i.e. mustard or hot sauce.

I spend MAYBE 15 min a week in the grocery store this way… it could not be easier. With 3 kids, 6 and under and another on the way, 15 mins a week is a perfect amount. No meal planning each week, no longer needing to shop each week… it’s all done at once minus a 15 min produce shop.

Right now, we spend roughly 25% in the big shop & oatmeal from Amazon, 20% on the meat share and then 10% each week on fresh produce or necessary items. This leaves roughly 15% of what we spend each month for a pizza night or stocking up on great sales we find through the month. It seems to get spent each month by it would be great to just save that amount… maybe someday!

Ways To Improve

This is what works for us right now and we are saving hundreds monthly. However, I would like to keep tweaking this to fix a few issues. Namely:

  1. I’d like to add to our meal options to rotate it a bit more for dinners. While it helps stick to a budget, I’m not a make the same things over and over kind of person. I think my goal is to find 12-15 meals for winter months and similar for summer/warm weather.
  2. I’d also like to get more creative for lunch… we are finding the leftovers are minimal as our kids eat more and more and our other planned options are limited. I’m on the lookout for another handful of options that won’t break the budget but will allow us to have more variety.

pinnable image for monthly shop


Have you tried shopping monthly? How does it work for you?  How about planning your meals, does this help you save money? Please feel free to leave any tips below!

-xo Jenn

4 thoughts on “In’s and Out’s of Saving with Monthly Shopping”

  • Great post Jenn! I must admit I do not enjoy grocery shopping. I’m pretty lucky and my husband does it most of the time. I am a big planner so I love your suggestions on planning out the meals for the month. There are 7 people in my household and feeding everyone can be very expensive if not planned out correctly.

    • Oh man, I know that scene all too well. Our kids eat an absurd amount. I figure with 3 soon to be 4 growing kids., I might as well cut costs now while so can because it’s only going to crazier!

  • Love this idea and am really going to give it a try. I just have to sit down and really think and plan. I hate the money spent on groceries mostly because there seems to be so much waste. So hopefully 🤞🏻 something like this can help. ☺️

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