Schedules are busy and there might not be time to accommodate things like grocery shopping. The good news is that you can plan ahead and get your grocery shopping for the month done all at one time.
Though it might sound like an easy endeavor, there is more to it than you may realize. With a little help, you can ensure that you have all the necessary food to hold you for the month. Here is what to know.
Why Shop Once Per Month?
Before you learn how to grocery shop for a month, it helps to think about why. There are several reasons why getting your shopping done for the month can be beneficial.
Before we look at creating the right shopping plan, it helps to put those goals into perspective and understand why it can be a great idea.
For starters, it can save time. For families especially, there are a lot of things happening at any given time. Finding the time to grocery shop, especially once a week or so, can become downright impossible.
Limiting it to once per month or so can be a great way put your time toward something else on the schedule.
More importantly, grocery shopping for a month can provide a better means of eating healthy. Because you are shopping for the month, it means having to be strict about what you eat.
It can also mean creating healthier eating habits, including a mix of both fruits and vegetables as well as “pantry” meal plans that will last for a while.
Part of learning how to grocery shop for a month involves keeping the freezer and pantry stocked with long-term ingredients is key, too, because there may come a situation where leaving the house is not feasible. With the proper grocery shopping plan in place, you can be prepared for whatever life has to throw at you.
How to Grocery Shop for a Month
There is a method to shop for a month. Don’t just randomly grab or you could wind up being wasteful or less prepared, meaning that a few more trips to the store are going to be necessary. Let’s break this down into four parts.
Part 1: The Fresh Food
Make sure that you are planning recipes that involve fresh fruit and vegetables. These are the items that won’t keep for very long, which means that they should be enjoyed first before the non-perishables or freezer items.
Keep a few of the family-favorite meals in mind. These are the recipes that have unique ingredients or other items that might not keep for more than a few days at a time.
This includes fruits and vegetables that won’t last for more than a few days—things like berries, tomatoes, lettuce, and more.
During this stage, fresh buns, bread, and meat should be utilized before they go into the freezer for long-term storage. The first couple of dinners should feature those fresh ingredients so that they can be properly enjoyed before spoiling.
Part 2: Items with a Long Shelf Life
The next part of learning how to grocery shop for a month should involve items that will hold up on the shelf for long periods. Think freezer items, canned items, dried pasta, and more.
You can still include meat or produce here, but those should be the items that will keep for more than a few days at a time.
Something like cauliflower, peppers, apples, and broccoli can hold up for a week or more in the crisper drawer, for example. There are also pantry fruits and vegetables, things like potatoes, garlic, onions, squash in different forms, and more that can hold up for weeks at a time in the pantry.
Even after you have gone through the freshest of fresh in the first couple of days, you can still infuse fresh vegetables and fruit into your meals for weeks into your meal plan, all without having to take a trip to the store again.
What makes shopping for the long-term difficult without a plan is that most people think produce items can’t last. With smart choices, you can always interject some fresh produce so long as you make the right purchases.
It is possible to have fresh meals throughout the entirety of the month so long as you know what to do.
Part 3: Pantry Staples
By this stage in the game, it will become time to rely on more and more of those items that become a pantry staple. This involves freezable items as well as pre-packaged meals.
The purpose of these kinds of meals is to consider the worst-case scenario. Sure, you plan on shopping every month, but what happens if you can’t make that shop? What happens if you can’t leave the house at all for a few weeks?
The goal at this stage is to ensure that you can prepare meals that aren’t the traditional frozen hot dog, canned soup, or ramen noodles. It is possible to have meals that still offer some nutritional value, though they may not be quite as fresh as what you were enjoying at the beginning of the shopping cycle.
At this point of the cycle, it is important to focus on precise recipes where grabbing the basics can allow you to put together many meals.
Pantry items. There will be a few go-to items in your pantry at all times when it comes to how to grocery shop for a month. Rice, canned beans, dried pasta, peanut butter, and quinoa should all become staples. Even without a specific plan, these are the kind of ingredients that will become necessary. Rice and pasta in particular can provide a base for your meal, providing quality nutrition and the ability to prepare a meal in short order.
Best of all, these pantry items are cost-efficient. They can be used on their own or as part of a more comprehensive meal, keeping your budget from breaking and providing a litany of options depending on your tastes at the time.
Meats. Pre-frozen food, like shrimp or fish, is a must. You can also purchase fresh meat that can be frozen for later. Turkey sausage, rotisserie chicken, ground beef and turkey, chicken breast, and more can all be stowed away for later.
With meats, you don’t need to have a specific recipe in place. These are the core of a variety of meals, meaning they can be thawed out and give you the foundation needed to create a delicious meal in no time. The goal is proper meat freezing, something that not everyone practices.
Storing meat in freezer-safe containers or bags will allow it to keep a higher quality, meaning it can be stored for longer without risking freezer burn. When the time comes to use it, thaw it properly (in the fridge, not on the counter). The last thing you want is to take a trip to the doctor because of poorly thawed meat.
Bread and cheese. The good news is that most regular cheeses will freeze well. If you like enjoying cheese as a snack or implementing it into your meals regularly, then stocking up on cheese can be easy.
Bread and rolls can be re-packaged to make them better for freezing. Wrap them tightly, storing them in freezer-safe bags. The good news is that you can also freeze whole-grain bread to keep your nutrition in mind.
Produce. Some kinds of frozen produce can be implemented later on in your shop cycle. Frozen corn, peas, and mixed vegetables are always great to use in things like soup or pot pies. Frozen fruit can be perfect for muffins, pancakes, smoothies, and any other delicious fruit treat. Be sure to check which fruits are best to buy fresh and freeze and which are best bought frozen in the first place.
Part 4: Pre-Made Freezer Food
To make step 3 happen, you need to have a full freezer. One of the best ways to save time and money is to make several batches of a single recipe. This way, you can get the most out of your recipe and also have something that can be made quickly and easily.
Soups, chili, crock pot meals, and chicken pot pies are all great freezer meal ideas. Even better, they can be heated up effortlessly, ready to be enjoyed in no time. It means being able to have a relatively healthy meal towards the end of your shopping cycle without needing fresh produce to make it happen.
Create the Optimal Grocery Plan Today
Whether you are stuck at home due to restrictions or just can’t find the time to get out and go grocery shopping, there is a plan that can accommodate you. Having a proper grocery plan in place can simplify the process and allow you to remain stocked up for a month at a time.
Cut down on the trips to the grocery store by investing in a quality plan to grocery shop for the month. Not only can it save on those trips, but it can create much more reasonable, healthy eating habits than ever before.
Keep yourself and your family fed for weeks without having to take very many, if any, trips to the store between.
Eugene is a Chemical Engineer with a passion for personal finance and is constantly learning new tricks to make his money work for him. He obtained an MBA part time and hasn’t stopped finding ways to make money, save money, and properly invest money. He currently lives at the Jersey Shore with my wife and two children.