Grocery shopping and meal planning

I’m really frugal when it comes to grocery shopping. We are lucky to have a large side-by-side refridgerator and a stand-up freezer. I purchase a lot of things when they are on a super sale. The sales haven’t been that great for a while, with the increased cost of groceries, but I’m still trying to stick to my budget: $75 every two weeks for two adults, including lunches each day for my husband, Jeff. He takes leftovers every day and I scrounge up whatever I can find.

Why shop once every two weeks? The less you go to the grocery store, the less you’ll spend. There is less chance you’ll throw snacks and extras into the cart if you don’t go to the store in the first place. If you are currently going to the store every few days, try to go only once a week. If you are currently going once a week, try once every two weeks. See how far you can comfortably stretch.

The key to making this work is having some space in your home for some kind of pantry. Take a shelf in your linen closet if you live in a small place. I have a shelf in my basement, at the bottom of the stairs. Every two weeks, I look at my pantry and my freezer to see what we have. Sometimes organizing things in the upstairs freezer is such a pain, but we’ve come up with a pretty good system. We bought a box of two gallon zipper bags to help sort things out. We use one bag for frozen veggies. Sometimes you only use part of a bag and then throw the bag back in the freezer. Next time you are looking for frozen corn, you’ve got half a bag in there but you’ll never find it. If I throw everything in the two gallon bag, it’s so much easier to find. I use another bag for meats. I throw hot dogs, small packages of sausage, single chicken breasts and other meats in the bag. It makes menu planning so much easier.

Menu planning is something that drives a lot of people crazy. Jeff and I have it down to a science. I hit the freezers and the pantry to see what we’ve got, then we sit down for a few minutes with the calendar to see what nights we won’t be home. We eat at home almost every night of the week, including weekends. Jeff prefers my cooking to most places we could go to eat and I love to cook. We have a huge list of dinners that we both really enjoy and we start plugging things into the list of dates. Here is the list for the next two weeks:

  • 29th – Grilled ham and cheese with soup.
  • 30th – Pork roast with potatoes and carrots.
  • 1st – MYOD (Make your own dinner). We both have meetings that night.
  • 2nd – Hamburger helper and corn. We need a quick dinner since we have an appointment that night.
  • 3rd – Chicken parm with spaghetti
  • 4th – late lunch, pancakes and sausage. Jeff has a performance that night so we’ll go out afterwards with the cast.
  • 5th – Turkey breast, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.
  • 6th – London broil, rice-a-roni, corn
  • 7th – create your own casserole with leftover turkey
  • 8th – BBQ chicken, stuffing and corn
  • 9th – MYOD. I have a meeting that night.
  • 10th – Spaghetti and meatballs
  • 11th – Beef roast and buttered noodles. We’ll be at an event all day so we’ll do the roast in the crock pot.
  • 12th – Chicken tetrazzini.

The only meals that take more than 30 minutes of active preparation are the chicken parm, turkey breast, and the meatballs. The two roasts will be made in the crockpot. The london broil cooks under the broiler for just a few minutes. I like to cook good meals but I don’t want to be in the kitchen all day. I have way too many other things going on.

So, here is my shopping list. I break down my shopping list by area so I don’t miss things. It also allows my to track what I’m spending. Generally, the outside edges (dairy, produce, meats) are the most expensive areas of the store, so I hit those last. I estimate the cost of each item and write it down next to the item on my list. I always round up to the nearest 50 cents and I never include my coupons, but I will factor sales into the estimates.

Groceries

  • bread
  • bacon bits
  • canned green beans
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • french fried onions
  • 2 bags of wide egg noodles
  • stuffing
  • hamburger buns (MYOD)

Frozen

  • 2 large bags of corn

Meat and Dairy

  • Buttermilk
  • Turkey breast
  • Beef roast
  • Sour cream
  • Milk

Produce

  • Carrots
  • Yellow potatoes (pork roast)
  • salad mix
  • Russet potatoes (mashed)

Other

  • Fabric softener (I may or may not buy this at the grocery store. It depends if there are any deals and coupons I can combine).

I’ll post tomorrow after I get home from the store to share my deals.

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