Every time I walk into the store, I wonder what kind of price increases I am going to find. This week it was milk and cheese. Who knows what it will be next week. The challenge to stay on a grocery budget is growing harder so I have been finding new ways of saving money on gas and groceries. In order to conserve gas and save money by spending less time at the store (every time I walk into Walmart I walk out with at least one thing not on my list) I shop for two weeks worth of groceries. The meal planning and grocery list making takes me about 30 minutes for I week and 45 minutes for two weeks. I sit down and make a menu plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks after I check sale ads from our local grocery stores and Walmart. Next, I write down everything I need to make these meal and cross off what I already have on hand. Then I rewrite my list by organizing it into categories and write down in the margin how much each item costs. After that I add up everything on the list to see how much I expect to spend so I can compare it with actual spending after I am done shopping. The actual shopping for 1 week takes about 45 min- 1 hour (depending on if I am alone or with all of the children) and two weeks takes about 15 minutes longer (mostly in checkout time.) I also make a small shopping trip at the beginning of the second week just for milk and fresh produce and I plan that trip after church on Sunday and spend 10-15 minutes. Shopping this way has saved me quite a bit of time and $40-$50 per month in groceries plus $20 in gas.
In the past I have tried the cook for a day, eat for a month cooking plan. The planning, shopping, and cooking do take a lot of work but I did save time and money. The hardest part for me was the actual day of cooking, and we didn't like many of the recipes that were in the book I was using. I am considering going back to a once a month shopping day by writing a two week menu plan and doubling the recipes to eat the second two weeks. If I can save $40-$50 shopping every two weeks, maybe I could increase that by shopping every 4.