Cut Your Grocery Bills in HALF with Once a Month Shopping

What would happen if you only went shopping once a month?

Would you become more organized? Would you become more creative? Would you become more mindful of waste? Would you save a ton of money?

It’s time to get down to business – the business of cutting your future grocery bills in HALF. Start the new year with a new way of shopping.

The “Rules”

You can change these around to fit your family’s needs, of course, but following you can find our family’s guidelines for Once-a-Month Shopping.

  • We take one trip for each of our needs: groceries, animal supplies, and other supplies. These may all be undertaken on the same day, or they can be split up based on the way your family gets paid.
  • Spend some time checking out the sales at various stores in your area. We make a day of it, hitting several different grocery stores after checking the sale flyers online.
  • Supplies that can be obtained outside of regular retail environments are exempt. For example, if you barter with a neighbor, purchase some craft supplies at a yard sale, or go get a bushel of apples directly from a local farmer, these things don’t count as “going to the store.” This is a way you can make up for a shortfall in your supplies while still abiding by the “no stores” rule. However, ordering a new item from Amazon or another online retailer would be considered cheating.
  • We go out for two meals per month. This might be Chinese takeout, pizza delivery, or a restaurant meal. A meal out can break up the monotony and help you stick to your no-stores challenge. Based on your budget and your family’s habits, decide if, and how many, meals you’ll have out.
  • Don’t hesitate to break the rules if it’s a matter of health or safety. Obviously, I don’t want to see your dog starve for a week because you underestimated the amount of dog food that you required for the month. Nor would I want someone to go without safety goggles at a new job until the end of the month. Adhere to the no-stores rule only if it makes sense.

If you have health reasons that require you to eat more fresh food, then by all means, work in a second shopping trip each month to pick up those items. When my daughter was dieting, she required some extra veggies to munch on so we made a second trip 2 weeks into the month to supply those needs. You might consider other options like sprouting or windowsill gardening in the winter or a full-on vegetable garden in the summer.

Always use common sense with these challenges. 😊

How to get started

Plan a trip to each type of store that you use. If money is a problem, you can split these shopping trips up.

  • A trip to the grocery store
  • A trip to a general merchandise store like Target or Wal-Mart
  • A trip to the feed store/pet store if it’s necessary for your family

With each trip, you’re going to predict what you need to run your household for an entire month. The next article will go into more detail about these shopping trips.

The financial benefits

As prices go up, it’s easy to spend a little here and spend a little there until you are shocked to discover that you have nothing left. The easiest way to prevent that might be to stay away from temptation. Going to do your shopping only one time in a month will help you stay away from those impulse purchases that always seem to hop into the cart. It will be easier to keep track of your spending if it’s all in one large trip.

When we lived in the city, we got into the habit of “just stopping to get one thing” several times per week. This added up, and our grocery bill got out of control.

When you set yourself a monthly budget, it can be difficult to keep track if you run to the store all the time. But when you shop once a month, you can withdraw the cash you need to purchase your items and stay within your budget more easily.

When I did this before, it made a massive difference in my grocery budget, and I think you’ll see the same results. After the first month, it’s far easier to shop this way because the money will be readily available when you haven’t shopped for several weeks.

The organizational benefits

If you know you only have one shot at getting all your supplies for the month, you’re going to be far more organized about that shopping trip.

You’ll be forced to calculate your needs in advance so that you can get everything you’ll require. You’ll need to consider things like special events that are coming up during the month (are you celebrating any birthdays or holidays?), guests that may be arriving, and outings for the kids that might require snacks or certain supplies.

During the month, you can keep a list as you discover things you’d normally “run to the store” to pick up. This list can be fulfilled during the next monthly shopping trip, at which time you may discover you that you already found a satisfactory substitute for the missing product.

We also found that when we shopped with an eye toward longer-term groceries, we added to our stockpile without even trying. There were always shelf-stable or frozen food items left at the end of the month that could be put toward our general pantry.

The creative benefits

When you shop on a monthly basis, you’ll find that there are many ways to skin a theoretical cat. (Don’t skin a real cat. I like cats. A lot.)

If you run out of an item during the month, it’s time to put on your problem-solving hat and come up with a replacement that doesn’t come from the store. Maybe you can repurpose something you already have. Maybe you can create the item out of supplies you have on hand. Maybe you can find it at a yard sale, borrow it from a friend, barter for it, or simply live without it. Whatever way you find around the missing item, it’s sure to get your wheels turning.

How often do you shop?

This article has more tips to help you get started.

Do you grocery shop weekly? Monthly? Multiple times per week? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Cut Your Grocery Bills in HALF with Once a Month Shopping
Cut Your Grocery Bills in HALF with Once a Month Shopping
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

11 thoughts on “Cut Your Grocery Bills in HALF with Once a Month Shopping”

  1. I work retail for 30 years, Grocery, for the last 11 years, and often get sucked into the killer sales and markdowns. A good friend did turn me on to ALDI.

  2. LOL Kimberly, I am in the same boat! I work in Grocery as well and have gotten ‘stuck’ with that ‘I just need one thing’ and walk out with oodles more! One of the best things I did was join one of those ‘ pantry challenges’ that you see pop up on various blogs and websites. I kind of look at this as a similar type of challenge.

  3. Ok. So I agree with some aspects of this but not all. Shopping only once a month, especially during the last 9 months of the covid pandemic has showed me that you can not count on things always being available (sale or not) & that prices are always higher when shortages/higher need. Then add in that if you only shop once a month that you can (& probably will miss sale price on some items).
    While I don’t have a set budget for groceries (which is more than just food) I have found that I end up coming out ahead waiting for sales (& coupons) & stocking up on what is on sale (that we usually eat/use). I’m
    pretty strict about how much I’m willing to spend on most items, even willing to go without because of price being too high/not on sale. Because of this mentality there are weeks where I only need to get milk & bread (& eggs in winter). And some weeks nothing.
    Plus we grow some of our own food & freeze/can for later. We do get a lot of food directly from farmers (half beef, chickens & some pork) that are one time costs that last almost a year in our freezers. Getting eggs from locals & picking fruit (what we don’t grow ourselves).
    Save-a-lot, meijer, sams club, family fare, Blaine’s farm store & menards covers most store needs. And all are relatively close together in our area.
    We are fortunate that we have ability (& resources) to practice this frugality choice, but realize that because out options are sometimes limited that this is what works best for us.

  4. I aim for every two weeks for groceries. I can stretch it longer during the summer when I can pick my salad from the garden, but need those fresh veggies during the winter. Also, I check the ads weekly for sales, especially on meat. But, your point is well taken. I have broken my habit of running to the market for something nice for dinner that night. During this past year, you may find what you want is unavailable and the market in the afternoon hours is crazy busy. Best to avoid the crowd.

  5. oldladywholivediashoe

    I get paid once a month and have a schedule that is so busy I only have time once a month to do the main shopping with 180 which includes non-food items. I stick to my list as much as possible. I also write down everything I put in the cart and the price. Once I get close to the 180 mark I see what I can cut for that month. It also helps how I go through the store. Shopping sales is a great way to save if you have time. No Aldi’s in my area. Grocery Outlet is fabulous but I have to work hard to not get more deals as they have awesome deals and they do not always have what is on the list. I use a local employee-owned place for my main shopping. There is very little in my pantry that is a box meal. I cook ahead and freeze then have homemade TV dinners to nuke when I get home and have a meal ready in 5-10 minutes. To be frugal one needs to learn to cook and do that well AND be willing that if the store does not have it you don’t buy it that month adding it to the list for next month. It takes a year or so to get to this point but it is well worth the effort.

  6. I did the once a month shopping for 12 months and stuck to it. It as hard the first three months but then got into the rhythm of it and saved loads . I found at the moment I’m better with our needs / health to shop for fresh stuff weekly . We are lucky to have a little green grocery within walking distance and always shop there first. The supermarkets I shop around them for deals fortnightly and stick within my budget.
    Here in Australia there is a book called ” once a month shopping” by Jody Allen. It really helped me years ago when I was doing the monthly shop. Not always super healthy recipes but common sense goes along way. Jody also has a website stay at home mum or sahm if anyone is interested.

  7. We have experimented and found twice a month to be the ideal for us. picky kids and a husband who just didn’t get on bored to once a month and many veggies can make it two weeks but I need the fresh or freshish foods. Any way you do it fewer trips to the stores will save you money and waste…

  8. Once A Month Shopping (OAMS) is a bit like Once A Month Cooking (OAMC) — an interesting ideal but not always possible. Aldi provides a good example of that conflict. Their specials run on a weekly basis only, from Wednesday through the following Tuesday with a heads-up notice well ahead of time on their website. You can’t possibly take advantage of those sometimes excellent specials if you stick to an OAMS schedule.

    –Lewis

  9. Sorry but I just can not miss the good buys on meats at my local grocery( one of the highest food prices). One week it could be a BOGO on bacon ( its bacon!!!), the next week it could be chicken for only 88 cents a pound. Another week it could be ham or sausage or even pork roast on a BOGO. The stores here don’t have their sales coordinated to where I could get bargains only once a month.
    Shopping the sales, using the digital coupons and the store cards saves me a lot of money.
    I could see doing a once a month shop for animal feed but otherwise its just not doable for us.

  10. I once worked for a nonprofit that paid once a month. Similarly, it is ROUGH the first 2-3 months, and then it was so easy to simply pay bills and be done. I’d like to try to minimize shopping trips as a family goal. With eight of us, it’s challenging. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. A passable chili: one can of chili, one can of chili beans, and a can of tomatoes with green chilies. I serve with crackers and cheese. Add applesauce to a cake mix. If you can find a smoked ham hock, that makes the best bean soup. Add canned carrots and frozen onions for even more flavor. That makes a lot of soup! I found a family size mixed vegetables in the frozen department for $2.42. Pretty expensive, but I use them in casseroles and soups. Add some to a package of Knorr side mixes with a little canned meat, either tuna or chicken, and you can feed a family (I use 2 mixes). I found a good deal at Sam’s Club for condensed milk (not sweetened). Dilute with water and use for cereals or puddings. My favorite breakfast is still pancakes. Look for the mix that just uses water. There are also muffin mixes that just use water. Bacon can be frozen in 3-4 piece bags so you just pull out what you need. I love to make huge casseroles or spaghetti sauces and freeze them in servings. Homemade bread is excellent. I use a bread maker I found at the thrift store. Most of my planning revolves around cans or premade mixes. And my cholesterol and blood pressure are fine as are my family’s.
    Alaska granny on YouTube has lots of recipes for eating from the pantry, Although hers is a survival site, her advice and recipes are excellent. She has amazing recipes and tips for saving money. I go to her site and yours, Daisy, all the time! Thank you for all you do.

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