Stilettos and Diapers: Monthly Meal Planning and Shopping

3.05.2012

Monthly Meal Planning and Shopping

Since becoming a Mom of 2, I've found that grocery shopping is nowhere near as easy as it used to be. And trying to decide what to make for dinner while the toddler pulls on your pants and the baby screams? 

Not so easy either.  

So, I decided to make a change. A big one.

I decided to meal plan and shop monthly. That means 1 trip to Costco and 1 trip to the grocery store at the beginning of the month, then a mid-month grocery trip just to restock milk and produce. It's worked so well for me, that I wanted to share how I do it with you. 
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Step 1: Make a list of meals you normally make. 

Separate the meals into meat types. It will be easier to create variety in your month this way. 
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Step 2: Print off a basic blank calendar and fill in your meals. 
Don't forget sides! 

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Step 3: Create your grocery list. 

Go through each day adding ingredients for your meals. I add numbers to the sides of items if I need more than 1. Then, add what you eat for other meals. Breakfast foods, deli meat, bread, chips, etc...as well as non-food items. 

Don't forget to check your condiments and sauces.

Month 1, I bought everything I could possibly think of. Toilet paper, detergent, coffee and several other items I don't need to buy monthly. Some things I didn't even open that month, but as least I didn't have to go back out for anything. You'll get a feel for how often you need things as you keep up the monthly shopping.
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Step 4: Shop! 

I take 1 day to shop. I start at Costco and buy what I can in bulk. Then, I go to the grocery store, followed by a couple hours getting everything sorted through and put away that night.

Around the 2 week mark, I go back to the grocery store to restock produce, milk and bread.   

I created a little space in a storage room of our basement for extra things that wouldn't fit in the pantry. I think installing some shelving will be in the near future, but for now, this works. 
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My meal plan is hanging on the side of my refrigerator along with my cleaning schedule and a list pad. I add things that are getting low to make sure I remember to put them on the next months list. 

Now, we do go out to eat sometimes and there are days that get crazy and we just eat leftovers. That's okay. If your ingredients will keep, push the meal out until next month. Or have it the next day and push out a different meal.
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I'm so happy that I started doing this. I can spend much more time with the kids during the day doing fun stuff instead of wasting an entire morning at the store. 

As far as budget goes, I'm spending less. A good bit less, actually. It's amazing how much those random trips to the store for 1-2 things really add up!

32 comments:

  1. Thank you SO much for posting this. I was in desperate need to start one again to budget right and had no idea how to go about it. I've tried before but obviously that didn't work since I had to keep running to the store every other night.

    This helps so much!

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  2. Ohmygosh, this is SO helpful!!! I've just started trying to do monthly meal plans, but I love the way you've separate by meats, stores, etc. Makes much more sense than the way I was doing it!

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  3. ugh i really should start thinking about doing this- I'm more of a 'go to the grocery store 3-4 times a week' type of mom. I blame it on the 7 months we spent in sweden where the fridges are freezers are super duper tiny! Inspiring though!

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  4. Been doing something similar for 2 months now. HUGE help to us! Major savings and less- lets just order a pizza or go out. Much healthier and cheaper. Now if we go out, it's because we planned it and want to!

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  5. I have the cleaning thing downpat, but my meal planning and grocery runs are out of control. I really need to sit down and do this.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  6. This is what I used to do and worked so well and then I stopped...thanks for remind me that keeping organized is a must!

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  7. This is what I used to do and worked so well and then I stopped...thanks for remind me that keeping organized is a must!

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  8. I think I am going to give this a go, I end up at the grocery store 2-3 times a week sometimes! This could really be a great solution. Thanks so much for sharing your system!

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  9. Great post Molly! Thanks!! I so need to get better at this.

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  10. Ok, I am really inspired now! Thank you for posting this!

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  11. Ooh thanks for sharing your secrets! I need major help in the grocery shopping area - the several-times-a-week trips to the grocery store to pick up one or two items always end up being huge budget killers, and this method seems like it will help a LOT. (and, help me avoid, "I don't know what to make for dinner so I won't make anything at all...")

    Do you ever need to get produce more often than every two weeks? I can't seem to keep anything fresh longer than a week, but maybe I just need better produce storage tips (like celery in aluminum foil... genius!)...

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  12. I've had a similar post in my drafts for literally a year.

    My only difference is that I go every 2 weeks instead of the one big trip. There is NO way I could manage to buy all the crap these boys eat in one trip.

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  13. Thanks a MILLION for sharing this!
    Oh and you have beautiful handwriting!

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  14. I'm really really impressed by this!!

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  16. Awesome planning! I wish I was as organized as you.

    P.S New blog url: webelonginparis.com

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  17. Oh my goodness! You have no idea how much I love this! My husband and I have specific "diets" & we have a toddler & new baby. Everyday we have to think what we are going to have for dinner that fits both our diets and if we have waht we need to make it. This will work awesome! And I am all about scheduling EVERYTHING! Sweet!

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  18. LOVE this idea! I hate having to grocery shop every week, so I'd love to be able to shop/plan for about 2-3 weeks at a time. Thanks for sharing!!

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  19. Okay, I'm officially trying this! We go to Costco at the beginning of every month anyway, I just never thought to plan out meals and purchase all of the ingredients at one time. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. I tried doing something like this and it seemed so overwhelming to me. I like the way you did it though, with separating out the types of food and then spacing them out on the calendar. Just a little thing like that seems to make it so much easier.

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  21. What a great idea! Crazy question, but what site did you use to print out the blank calendars?
    I love that template...

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  22. Sounds awesome, but my produce would never keep past a week. I think it has to do with where we live. This is one of the best ideas though.

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  23. So great; thanks! AND, I'm swiping some of your meal ideas :-)

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  24. Wow! Very impressive. I usually just shop a week at a time & now with just a 3 1/2 yro it works fine, but with the baby due in August I'm sure there are going to be a lot of changed happening in our house!

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  25. Great Idea! Would you be willing to postshare your blank calendar template? I really love yours but am not able to create one as cute :-) Thanks!!!

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  26. That is exactly how I do it, too. I've been at it for almost a year, and it works out so well!

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  27. Thanks so much for posting this! Very helpful! I don't do this and spend way too much on groceries.

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  28. Thanks for the monthly meal planning info.

    Would you mind sharing your hazelnut crusted chicken and egg roll recipes?

    Thanks,
    Amy

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  29. I was searching for an automated meal planner tool on the web and came across this... looks like there are no meal planner apps or website that puts you in control like this ...

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  30. I've been planning my monthly/weekly meals since I got married and had a long commute to work and back - I would be tired and needed to know what to cook for supper when I got home! When the children came along they got to say what they'd like during the week as well and just a quiet hour of paging through recipe books and magazines was quite a stress-buster! My menu-on-the-fridge also includes which book to find the recipe in! And of course meat in the freezer can be taken out in the morning and be ready to cook in the evening, and the bestest (!) benefit was always avoiding that "What's for supper Mummy?" question!

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  31. There is no question that meal planning saves time and money on the back end. I also find that when I'm creating my meal plans, I try to build in double recipes of things like brown rice, sauteed fresh vegetables, potatoes, etc., so I can use the leftovers to create other meals within the week.

    I make EVERYTHING from scratch, which means I do have to make more frequent shopping trips than you are suggesting. I do not use boxed, canned or convenience food.

    For me, it's about planning fresh, healthy and nutritious meals that are low in sodium, unhealthy fats and added sugar. The great lesson here, is that planning does save time and money.

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