First of all I want to say a big "Thank You!!" to all of you who left me such encouraging comments, ya'll are the BEST readers. =) It is obvious that I am not the only mama who has struggled with this and come to the conclusion that being a "couponer" isn't right for this season of life. (If you didn't read yesterday's post about why I've decided to give up couponing, you can read part one here. Be sure to read the comments as well, there's some great ideas in there!)
Before I begin, I need to share one exciting tidbit of news...two weeks ago I got my first grocery budget raise since 2006. Did you get that? Since 2006! My grocery budget has been the same for 7 years! Yeah, it's not been easy and I was doing a major happy dance about that one. Seven years ago things were cheaper and we only had half as many children. So, a raise was definitely in order!
As I stated in yesterdays post, I want to share my ideas on how I plan to still feed my family frugally without the stress of coupons, but more healthy as well. This is kind of a four step process...
1) Beginning in a few weeks, I'm going to do "once a month grocery shopping."
Instead of a 3-4 hour grocery shopping endeavor every.single.week., I'm going to do my BIG shopping once a month. Then during the remainder of the month, while I'm doing my other errands, I plan to make a quick stop for fresh produce, milk and eggs if it's needed.
This alone is going to save me boatloads of time! Instead of spending around 16 hours a month grocery shopping, I'll be spending 3-4 for the BIG run, and a quick 15 minute "in and out" trip for the fresh stuff. That just makes me want to smile! (Pretty sure my kiddos are going to be thrilled about this as well!) Also, I've read before that people actually saved more on their grocery bill by shopping this way so I'm interested to see how it works out for us.
2) I'm going to plan my meals a month at a time.
I have been doing this on a week-by-week basis. It's not my favorite job and I'm looking forward to only having to do this once a month! I'm going to do this in Google Calendar, and listed with each meal will be the essentials of each recipe. That way when I'm making my grocery list, it's easy to see what I need.
One great thing about Google Calendar is that if I want to use the same menu next month, I just have to change my settings and have it repeat! Also, if you have a smart phone, you can have your calendar send you reminders to alert you for what's coming up the next day. So if you're going to eat beans the next day, it sure is handy to have that little reminder so you remember to soak them! =)
3) Meal planning and shopping for a month at time will enable me to do "Once a Month Freezer Cooking."
I've done a bunch of freezer cooking in my time, so this is nothing new. Before both Levi and Lucy were born, I cooked and cooked until my freezer could barely shut. It sure simplified life for the first few months! And every time my husband would say, "Why don't you do this all the time?" And seriously, why don't I? And usually it was because there was just no way to cook for a month when I was only shopping one week at a time. But now, I have no excuse! =)
4) Making the basics from scratch always helps to keep the grocery bill down.
This is a list of what I make on a regular basis:
- granola bars (weekly)
- simple granola (double batch once a month)
- yogurt (weekly)
- whole wheat bread (2x a week)
Buying those items can be pretty expensive and not near as healthy. Plus my kiddos definitely do not "eat like birds"...although if they were birds, they'd be vultures...constantly swarming about to see what they can devour next, LOL. =D
Some things I want to begin doing on a regular basis again are...
- substituting the sugar in my recipes with healthier alternatives or honey
- subsituting the fats in baked goods with ground flax seed, applesauce, vegetable purees, etc.
- making hummus
- making salad dressing
I am truly excited about the changes being made in this area of life! As a wife and a mother, feeding our families encompasses a great deal of our "job" and I want to continue to strive to be a better manager in this area. Simplifying and re-organizing things will go a long way in keeping the stress down, and our tummies filled with nutritious food!
The plan is to blog about all of this so in the near future I'll be sharing my month-long menu, what my first BIG grocery shopping trip was like, as well as how I plan to tackle the freezer cooking. Hope you'll stick around!
How do you do your menu plan and grocery shopping? Once a week? Every other week? And have you ever tackled once a month freezer cooking? Any advice for this new endeavor?