Grocery shopping once a month will completely change your life for the better. I promise. It saves you time, effort, money and sanity. Imagine a life where you only take one trip to the grocery store a month and you actually have all the food you need to survive.
If you are thinking this sounds too good to be true, I am telling you, this is how I live my life. It is freaking glorious.
How Grocery Shopping Once a Month Saves You Time and Money
If you want this stress-free, one grocery store trip a month life, you can totally have it! It isn’t completely effortless, and it does require a bit of planning to pull off, BUT it isn’t rocket science.
The most common questions I get when people find out I only shop once a month are:
Don’t your produce rot by the end of the month?
Don’t you run out of milk?
How do you buy that much stuff all at once?
How do you know what you will need for the whole month?
Don’t you run out of snacks really fast?
These are totally legitimate questions that can set you up for failure, but there is a way to make sure you just have one trip to make.
Let’s talk about how to logistically shop once a month.
What do you need to do before you go to the grocery store?
In order for this system to work, you MUST meal plan. There is no way around that. If you are completely new to meal planning, check out the related posts below.
Right before the first of every month, you should sit down and come up with your meal plan for the month. In our home, this means coming up with dinners because we are an eggs, toast and granola bar breakfast family. Then lunches are cold meat sandwiches. Dinner really is the only variation we have in our diet.
Pro-tip: When you are meal planning for the month, think about what ingredients will be used in each meal. For example, you would want to put tacos and chili next to each other so you can utilize all the meat, sour cream and cheese without wasting it. Try to be logical and keep meals clustered together that will use some of the same ingredients to cut down on waste.
Once you have your meals planned for the month, write out your grocery list. You should be including the food you will need for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
What’s for Dinner? How to Easily Plan a Month of Meals
Meal Planning for Beginners: 6 Reasons to Start Meal Planning Today
Monthly Meal Plan on a Budget: Less Than $100 for Dinners for a Family of 4
The Life Saving 12-Week Rotating Meal Plan
Sacrifice produce for 2 weeks.
Don’t freak out. The solution to not having produce rot is to plan all of your meals that require fresh produce in the first two weeks of the month. The last two weeks of the month can utilize canned or frozen produce.
This lets you still have fresh fruits and veggies, but you aren’t going to waste them by trying to use them 3-4 weeks beyond when they are good.
Pro-tip: I love the bags of frozen fruits and veggies to use later in the month. My kids can’t tell the difference and we don’t waste anything!
Watch your milk and egg dating.
Milk and eggs can make things a little bit tricky. Egg dating is usually pretty good for the month and if they ever expire on us, I just make egg salad to extend their life a bit. If we run out of eggs, then we are out.
You may cringe at this, but I am not afraid to use expired eggs. It doesn’t bother me at all, I just don’t tell my husband because he would FREAK OUT.
Milk is probably the toughest thing if you are a family who goes through tons of milk. You can definitely freeze it (I think it is best to put it in a larger container so it has room to expand), but it may change the flavor or the texture.
Right now my life is full of two toddlers who guzzle milk like they are competing for Das Boot. I will not give my family expired milk (I know you were worried for a minute). So, depending on the dating, we do sometimes end up at the store for a quick drive by for just milk.
Oftentimes, we are nearing the end of the month and we need to get a gallon for the kids. We have enough self-control to not purchase anything else and I am freaked out to try to freeze milk. BUT, if you do not have self-control, give freezing it a try and see if it works for you. Tons of people do it and have no problem with it.
Pro-tip: Have your husband pick up the extra milk if needed. He won’t mind because it is one item and you don’t have to step foot in the store again! Win-win!
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How can you possibly have enough food for one whole month?
Utilize a freezer.
If you don’t have a freezer separate from your refrigerator/freezer combo., YOU NEED ONE. This will be a total game-changer for you. When you have that much extra space to freeze things you can start building up a stock-pile, not worry about dating on meat, cheese, OJ, etc., start making freezer meals and more!
I have an upright full-size freezer that I love and an extra refrigerator that gives me another little freezer.
You can probably shop once a month without a freezer, but I think it may be a bit challenging to have enough food on hand. If you can’t freeze things, they will go bad and you will run out of food.
The most common things you will find in my freezer are:
- Sliced cheese
- Shredded cheese
- Sliced Meat
- Cuts of beef
- Bags of frozen veggies
- Bags of frozen fruits
- Pre-sliced onions (I can only cry so many times in a month so I cut a bunch in one go and freeze them for later)
- Bread….so much bread
- Orange juice (in cartons)
- Sweet corn
- Freezer meals I have integrated into my daily cooking
- Chocolate chips
- Chicken nuggets
You can pretty much freeze anything. Once you have additional freezer space, your whole world will just open up and you can start taking back your time instead of being at the grocery store.
Build up a stockpile.
One of my favorite tricks for keeping my grocery budget low is to build a stockpile. It seems counterintuitive at first, but it totally works! Every month buy 1 or 2 extra packs of cheese, meat, potatoes, veggies, fruit, etc. Don’t go overboard, but just buy one extra of some things.
This will help you build up a buffer supply of staple food items. This is awesome because it will allow for some flexibility in your life. If you are living off of your meal plan, then suddenly decide to go, rogue, you can have extra ingredients around to get a little creative if you want to branch out.
Ration your “snacks”.
If you live in a home with foodies, you understand cookies, treats, cereal, fruit snacks, etc. are eaten within a freaking week of going to the store. Then all you hear is, “We have nothing to eat!”
When you shop once a month, everything has to last. There is no other option. To avoid living three weeks without snacks (which I consider being a form of torture), you will need to ration them appropriately.
You are in charge. You have done the shopping and you know how much of what you purchased. When you unpack the groceries you can either divide the snacky stuff in half and only pull out the second half on the 15th, or you can divide it into fourths and bring out a new batch of snacks every week. You choose!
This works awesome because your family will feel like you went shopping again, but you didn’t have to!!
Pro-tip: If you don’t ration your snacks, at least make sure you have ingredients on hand for chocolate chip cookies or something. Otherwise, you will be that person eating marshmallows and chocolate chips convincing yourself you are enjoying it.
Grocery shopping once a month is totally doable, you just need to put a little bit of planning behind it. It totally changes your life and gives you so much time back. You don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, you have all the food you need and you don’t have to spend your life standing in a grocery store.
If you meal plan, time your produce use well and watch your dairy dating, you can easily do this! My best tips are utilizing a freezer to give you enough room for everything, start to build a stockpile and ration your snacks so you aren’t miserable by the end of the month.
We have been living like this for years and it is awesome! I spend minimal time thinking about food and groceries. Instead of it controlling our schedule, we spend one day getting it done and spend the rest of the month living our lives.
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Hi Rachel! I love all your great advice. This week I utilized something close to the once a month shopping plan. I am a every-other-day-at-the-grocery-store kind of girl so the leap to once a month is terrifying. I did, however, commit to only twice month until I get it figured out. I gotta say, it was amazing! I shopped for a bit longer than usual (I went to four different stores to utilize major sales) and then I was done! I spent a lot less money than normal and I dont have to worry about it again for two weeks! I think I will move to a monthly plan sooner than i thought. Thanks for all of your great advice and guidance!
Seriously,Stop freaking out about freezing milk! My parents always had 2 1/2 gallon cartons in our freezer the entire time I grew up in Minnesota where blizzards came up quickly!! It doesn’t change anything. Just gently shake once it’s thawed!!😋
I love this idea, but we use a lot a bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns and Hawaiian rolls. How do you thaw without them getting mushy?
I typically will double bag bread items that we won’t use super fast and then just set them out at room temperature to thaw in their original packaging. Hope this helps!
So i have 3 teenagers…
Once a month is impossible with them.
Im a meal planner and budget shopper. But there’s always ways to cut back. Maybe I’ll lock the kids out on weekends 🤣
When i needed to shop monthly i always froze milk. Give it a good shake when defrosted as whole milk separates and it is back to normal. Did it for years.
I’ve got three boys who drink milk like we own a cow or something. I buy about 12 gallons a mint & freeze them. Pull one gallon out to thaw night before in sink and shake a bit. (Can take longer in winter versus summer). Never had a problem and it tastes the same and I’m a PICKY milk person, not crazy about it myself except with chocolate. It will change your life! No fear. 😊
This blog post is AWESOME!
You can totally freeze milk! If you don’t want to transfer it to another contain, the key is to purchase the milk jugs (gallon). That have an indented round circle on the side. When you freeze it that circle pops out! No exploding milk and it tastes completely normal! And eggs are good past the store expiration, just do an egg test to make sure they are not bad. Use a tall glass bigger than the egg. Drop the egg in, if it sinks and stays in just fine, if it floats to the top it’s rotten toss it. ( Google for more info on it). Hope this helps everyone!
I love this! Thanks so much April!
Thank you for the tips. I get paid bi-weekly so i only shop once every two weeks anyway. I think with a little effort this could be done for my family.
I usually have powdered milk on hand to use as added goodness to sauces, baked goods, homemade yogurt, …and for when I run out of milk. Getting a fine quality powder milk, storing it with care once opened, and watching the expiration date is essential for lasting, good-tasting powdered milk. Affordable, saves space, versatile, nutritious, and shelf-stable.
Absolutely love all of your ideas. However, how do you do this with only $250 per month?
It is a bit of a stretch for us for $250/month, but we make super simple meals and utilize our freezer ALL THE TIME. Check out my other grocery shopping posts and you will find my best tips for stretching that grocery budget! Thanks for being a reader!!
I live alone which means I can shop less but have a harder time with meals. I have been planning meals based on what I have left over. I also freeze milk and COOKIES. People have laughed at me for freezing one cookie, but why eat it if not hungry, and why waste it? They can be eaten in a few minutes. Brownies are the same way. Popcorn lasts a long time too. I also make my own nut clusters by melting whatever chocolate I have in the microwave, stir in nuts, and cool on wax paper. I keep them in the fridge and make as few as I want. I also buy lots of cereal as it will last, and oatmeal and peanut butter can be used for cookies. Sweet treats can be made from many cereals as long as various sugars are kept on hand. I recently made pralines because I had too many pecans. Whatever mixed nuts I don’t use at Christmas time, I freeze, and they can be eaten right away. With these ideas, snacks should always be available.
I didn’t know frozen fruit was as good as fresh, and I too go a few weeks without when I don’t have time to shop. Even though it’s just me, I probably drink 1.5 gallons of milk every week plus half and half.