My Monthly Grocery Shopping List

MonthlyShoppingList_003This week I shared my experience in frugal living with a post on how to save money by grocery shopping once a month. That post had a link to the meal planner form that I use each month. To follow up on the planning I do, I thought it might be helpful to link to the grocery list that I use in conjunction with the meal planner.

I save a lot of money by buying once a month and the key is buying in bulk. I also cook in large batches (spaghetti sauce, chili, burritos) and I freezing many items each month. This grocery list allows me to plan an accurate budget by pricing out each item and extending the cost for multiples of each item. Because it is a digital form that can be filled out on my computer or tablet, I can re-work my numbers over and over until I get to the desired monthly total I want.

Here’s How a Monthly Meal Plan Could Save You Thousands of Dollars Each Year

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Seriously, I Am Saving $2,400 a Year on Groceries.

I used to go to the grocery store once a week like clockwork. I had a general list but I did not have a meal plan. I just bought groceries (food, a few toiletries, paper goods, cat food and pet supplies) in a random fashion. I’d buy what sounded good that day, guessing at what I would need, and overbuying just in case I was forgetting anything. Each week my total would come in at around $150, or more.

Last year, I decided that $150 a week was too much to spend feeding 2 adults and 4 cats with occasional entertaining. (Okay, I’ll admit it. A lot of entertaining. It’s what I love to do.) So, I decided to make a monthly meal plan and buy groceries once a month. My plan was to spend $400 a month, all at one time, which would average out to $100 a week. It took some planning and a few other tips and tricks to make it work, but now I can proudly say I spend an average of $400 on groceries a month. That means I am saving $2,400 a year (probably more like $3000 if I’m honest,) over my old, wander-around-the-store system.

You can use this link or click on the image below to get the Monthly meal planner that I use.

A Few Other Tips On Making This Work.
I mentioned that there were some other tricks I use to make this work for me. You may or may not need to use these based on your preferences, availability in your area, and your willpower level.

  • First, I do not go into the grocery store at all if I can help it. I order everything online and have it delivered for free each month. I plan my meals and my grocery list sitting at my desk and order online. (I use Vons.com because they are close by, but you could use any delivery option.) This helps me stay on target with only the things I need, and I can not get distracted by the merchandising in the store or impulse buy something at the checkout or bakery.
  • Second, because I order once a month, I save some of my budget for perishables like produce. I can not buy all my veggies and fruits once a month, or they will spoil. I do try to buy hardy items that will keep a long time; broccoli, asparagus, celery, potatoes, onions, apples and the like. But lettuce and other fruits and veggies need to be bought fresh every few weeks. I try to get as much as possible from a local farmer’s market instead of going to the grocery store.
  • Third, I use my Club Card and shop the sales. Just because I don’t go to the store in person does not mean I can’t shop the sales. I start my shopping in the Online Specials section to make sure I get free delivery, free items, free items with purchases, money off with purchases, buy one get one free offers and more.
  • Fourth, I have created a pantry and I stock up when sales happen. This means, over the last year, I have gathered a small stock of canned and dry goods. I am not talking about doomsday prepper/extreme couponing/horder-style stocking up. But a decent pantry can really help save money on groceries. As can buying in bulk, cooking in bulk and freezing.

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Get the Monthly Meal Planning interactive pdf as a digital download from Etsy

The Great Onion Experiment

Ever since I read Monica’s post in TheYummyLife.com I’ve been curious. It said that storing onions, garlic, and shallots in punched paper bags can keep them fresh for months. And that onions stored like this will still be fresh and firm after 3 months! Of course I had to try this for myself to see if it works. So today I started The Great Onion Experiment. I made a note of the date I bought and bagged my onions right on the bags, so I can remember when three months have elapsed.

thegreatonionexpirament

Cooking with a Camera: Fish Tacos with White Sauce, Mango Salsa and Black Beans

FishTacos_01Last night I decided to try homemade fish tacos. I made everything fresh except for the tortillas and beans. Those I bought pre-made. If, like Robert Rodriguez, you think that tortillas should never be store bought and you want to make your own, check out his recipe here.

Mango Salsa
Ingredients: 1 mango, 1/4 of a red onion, 2 small orange peppers, 1/4 of a bunch of cilantro, the juice from 1 lime, 1/4 tsp cumin.
FishTacos_03
Dice all ingredients and mix in a bowl. I like mine mild. but if you would like to add heat, add a jalapeño pepper.

FishTacos_04White Sauce for Fish Tacos
Ingredients: 1/2 cup mayonaise, 1/2 cup sour cream (substitute Greek yogurt or creme fresh if you prefer), the juice of one lime, a pinch of cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, dill and oregano. 1/4 of one bunch of minced cilantro.
FishTacos_05Whisk all ingredients together. Again I like my sauce mild, you can also add capers if you like and peppers for heat if you like it spicy.

FishTacos_06Fish Tacos
Ingredients: Tortillas (flour or corn) Any kind of fish. (I used yellow fin tuna, but you can use any fish you like.) Some kind of batter,  1/4 of a cabbage, 1/4 of a bunch of cilantro
FishTacos_07Pre-cook your fish through, then cool and cut into smaller pieces for batter frying. Any kind of batter you like will work, such as a plain egg wash and flour dredge. This time, I used tempura batter from a box.

FishTacos_011While the fish is frying, chop your cilantro and cabbage and toss together.
FishTacos_010When assembling the plate, I like to serve the mango salsa and black beans in small dishes on a large plate so that the tortillas don’t get soggy. Also, they give me something to prop the tortillas up against to form the taco shape.
FishTacos_09Fill the tortillas with a layer of fish, a layer of cabbage and cilantro, and a layer of white sauce, with a garnish of lime wedge.
FishTacos_02

Bread Bowl Birdfeeder

bread-bowl-bird-feeder_01Today I had soup served in a sourdough bread bowl for lunch. After the meal I thought the bread bowl would make a cute bird feeder. So I brought it home, cut a few holes for string, wire or twine and filled it with the only seeds I happen to have around the house at the moment – toasted sesame seeds.

bread-and-seeds

Make a Bee Watering Station

BeeFeeder1

I recently emptied my pool for the winter and wanted to provide an alternative water source for the bees in my backyard. I want them to stick around and be happy here, so that my vegetable garden will get lots of bee love in the Spring.  I originally got the idea for this from The Walden Effect homesteading blog. They used a large pan filled with glass marbles. My version is a bit more rustic; just a couple of small pans and and a few rocks. You can use anything you like in yours.

Start with a pan or container of some kind, rinsed off rocks or any other objects you like, water and honey or sugar.

BeeFeeder2

You can add honey or sugar sweetened water to the pan to make it easier for the bees to dehydrate the liquid into honey in the cool weather. Or you can use plain water. Add rocks so the bees have something to land on and not drown. Place in your garden or anywhere you want the bees to visit.

BeeFeeder3

That’s it! Happy Gardening!

 

BeeFeeder1

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