Organization: Once-A-Month Grocery Shopping

Yesterday, I mentioned that we do once-a-month grocery shopping. We go to Kroger on senior citizens day, and we use coupons and the senior discount (borrowing a friend's card) to maximize our savings. We wouldn't be able to do this without serious organization.
Like this craziness. When you buy 99% of your food only once a month, you buy a large quantity. J-bird eats three of these Kroger Fruit & Grain Bars every morning for breakfast. So we get 12 boxes of 8 bars = 96 bars. That's a lot of pantry space.

I have a word document that is our monthly list. I go through the list, and modify depending on what we need to restock in the pantry and what meals we're having for the month. I list the meals at the bottom of the list and then after the trip, cut out this portion of the list and tape it to our monthly calendar that is posted on the refrigerator. As I make the meal, I mark it off the list. This method helps me know which meals have more perishable ingredients, and what meals we can have. I can plan ahead to have leftovers on nights when we have other things to do.

Here's a glimpse of a portion of my most recent grocery list.

I list quantities next to items, sometimes noting what meals the items are for. I note coupons with (C). Some people like to pull the coupons they know they will use and put them separate, but I prefer to keep them in my binder, in baseball card pages. The coupons in my binder are roughly sorted by how we encounter the items in Kroger. I like to pull the coupons out of the binder in the store so then I can quickly scan similar coupons to make sure we're getting the best possible deal. I pull the coupon from the binder and then put the coupons in my pocket, to pull them all out at once when we get to the register.

It's easier to do this sort of shopping with another person. I carry the binder, with the list clipped to the front, and my trusty pen to mark through items as we get them. J-bird pushes the cart, which takes significant engineering and creativity to get everything stacked so we can even make it to the checkout. Sometimes we need two carts before we get to the end, normally around frozen food and before we get dairy and meat.

We usually need two carts because of this.
Yes, that's my refrigerator right now, not the dairy case.
I drink a glass of soy milk (or coconut milk-- it was on clearance!) every morning with breakfast, and Goose drinks her whole milk all day long. To maximize our savings, we try to buy all the milk we will need for the month on senior day. I normally go through 5 cartons, and Goose does around 8.

And this is our freezer right now.
(Ignore the Ben & Jerry's and Girl Scout cookies.)
J-bird takes Healthy Choice meals for his lunch and we try to have meat 5 of 7 nights of the week. Again, we try to buy all we will need on senior day to maximize our savings.

Once-a-month grocery shopping isn't for everyone, but it has worked for our family for several years now. We have the pantry space and time to plan for the epic trip. And the savings are worth every bit of time spent planning. Fewer trips equals fewer impulse buys.

We also have a great friend that frequently watches Goosie while we go. It's really the only way-- grocery shopping with a toddler is sometimes rough. Goose went with me on Wednesday while J-bird was away for work, and while she was pretty good, we had a fight in the frozen food aisle because she tried to bite through a bag of frozen peas, and she threw my onion overboard more times than I could count, laughing every time.
How do you save at the grocery? How frequently do you shop?


  1. that sounds awesome! that organization process takes some serious skill! i'm trying to get into couponing and i'm learning a lot from your information. :o) for us, i do a 2 week meal plan. the reason for this is that we make everything mostly from scratch and 75-80% of our grocery list is fresh produce. we shop at farmer's markets when it's the season and grow some of our own food in the summer. the winter is more difficult, for sure. i also keep a running list on a word document and i organize it according to where i find it in the store to save time (always a bonus when shopping with kiddos!).

    p.s. -- i really enjoy your blog. :o)

  2. Mindy Catron GilbertMarch 4, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    We go once a week, but I do use some of your methods for savings and efficiency. I make a weekly menu every Sunday night. (We make meals that have quantity enough for leftovers for our lunches during the week.) Making the menu is so critical in keeping our impulse purchases down. Then, I'll scan our supplies to see what we'll need for our meals. After I get a rough list down, I go back and list items according to what I come to first in the store and mark which have coupons. This saves time backtracking--our kroger is crazy every day of the week, so I go down as few isles as possible. Traffic jam!!!

    My husband thinks I I've analyze my shopping trips, but I'm glad to see others try to be efficient too! Do you have very much to go bad throughout the month? Do you get produce for the month too?

  3. Lately, I've been waiting until we are going to prepare something with a lot of fresh produce until that day or week to buy the fresh stuff. We've had too much go bad over the years due to poor planning.

    A lot of the fruit and veggies we eat in our meals are frozen from the store, or we freeze to prevent them from going bad. I diced and froze a bag of onions in individual baggies last month because they were about to go bad. Talk about a long, tearful night! But now I have plenty for pasta sauce, stir fry, and other recipes.