Today, I’m sharing this information about How to Simplify Life: The Minimalist Guide to Grocery Shopping.
There are many tips on How to Simplify Life on this website. Check out these other posts:
- Simplify Life, Simplify Time: 5 Amazing Benefits of Going Green
- Beyond the Busy: Simplifying Family Life Using Routines
- Simplifying Housekeeping: One Crazy Idea for Dealing with Kids’ Toys
- Simplifying Your Mornings: 3 Ways to Get Spiritually Grounded
Now, back to The Minimalist Guide to Grocery Shopping…
In September 2013, I had a one month old, the beginnings of chronic fatigue, a home and a blog to run, and my husband and I had decided to start our journey to debt free…on one low income.
The odds felt like they were stacked against me, to say the least. But a mama’s gotta take care of business, right?
Because our budget was already very tight at the time, our pursuit of becoming debt free led me to search for ways to slash my grocery budget to the bare minimum, while still feeding my family healthy foods.
Thankfully, my search for grocery savings led me to an ultra simple method that, once in place, saved me over $5,600 in the first year alone! There are so many things I’d love to share about grocery savings, but I’m going to try to boil it down to one very simple tip in my minimalist guide to grocery shopping.
(Get my cheat sheet for simple grocery savings for even more tips.)
What I want to share with you today is a tip that led me not only to save lots of money on groceries, but it also drastically simplified our family’s rhythm.
It took away some of the busyness, innate in our culture and life with little kids, and allowed us to use our precious time and energy for more worthwhile activities.
Here it is, my minimalist guide to grocery shopping:
As much as possible, stay out of the grocery store.
Here are a few ways cutting down on trips to the grocery store will save time, energy, and money:
- Cut down on impulse buys.
- Save on the cost of driving to and from the store. (The total cost of driving a minivan is about 84 cents per mile!)
- Spend less time getting little ones in and out of the car.
- Spend more time having fun as a family and less time stopping your toddler from grabbing everything off the shelves.
- Take advantage of the best deals on healthy, natural foods. (Most of the best deals are NOT found in grocery stores.)
- Save money by taking advantage of buying in bulk.
The Minimalist Guide to Grocery Shopping: Once a Month Grocery Shopping List
So many times, we get caught in the trap of running to the store 2 or even 3 times a week to grab just one more thing, and end up buying much more than we came for. Staying out of the grocery store might sound like a good idea, but how do you actually make it work when you have a hungry family to feed?
I think the easiest way to share with you my grocery shopping routine is to show you. Below you’ll find my actual grocery list from last month.
That’s right, I make one grocery list for the entire month.
It may look a bit strange and slightly out of balance, but below I’ll explain how it works to save me time and money.
Sample Once a Month Grocery Shopping List
Online Shopping – Week #1:
- 20 lbs Liver
- 40 lbs Chicken
- 20 lbs Rice
- 4 oz Cumin
Local Farms – Week #1:
- 1 Gallon Honey
Whole Sale Shopping – Week #1:
- 4 Loaves of Bread
- 2 Jars Natural Peanut Butter
- 2 lbs Coffee Beans
Local Grocery store – Weeks #2-4:
- 20 Dozen Eggs
- 10 Gallons Milk
- About 40 lbs Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (In the summer and fall, this is replaced with visits to local farms and gardens to take advantage of great prices on in-season produce direct from the source.)
The Minimalist Guide to Grocery Shopping: How it Works
Let’s talk a bit more about how this minimalist guide to grocery shopping works. Now, you can bet that we didn’t eat 20 pounds of liver in one month, or a whole gallon of honey for that matter!
Basically, I front load all of my bulk purchases that can be made online and at Costco. I stock up on all the staples that I know we use, taking advantage of great discounts for buying in bulk.
At first, it was a bit scary to use up over half of my budget in the first week of the month. However, doing it this way, I know we will have all the basics that we need to make almost any meal.
While I bought chicken, rice, and honey this month, it might be oats, olive oil, and pastured butter the next.
Then I just pick up a few perishable items like milk, eggs, and produce at our local grocery store throughout the month.
This way I can run in and out of the grocery store quickly. My little ones are much more likely to stay on good behavior and enjoy the trip if I can keep it short.
Just a little bit of planning with a minimalist guide to grocery shopping makes buying healthy, natural foods for my family easier and much more affordable! It also simplifies life so much for our family.
Note from Trisha:
If you’re looking for more ideas, be sure to check out Shannon’s Grocery Savings Made Simple course!
Shannon Brown is the (now debt free!) founder of GrowingSlower.com and author of the Real Mom’s Guide series of books and courses. She now has had the privilege of sharing her simple grocery savings method with over 2,000 students in her Grocery Savings Made Simple course. When she’s not sharing her passion for frugal living with her readers, you can find her spending time with her husband, sipping a home brewed latte, and snuggling her two little ones.
I understand buying in bulk on things with a long shelf life, like honey, or on items you can freeze, like meat. But how in the world do you keep 20 dozen eggs and 10 gallons of milk from going bad? Or do you use that much in a month?
Shannon @ GrowingSlower
You’re right on. For the perishables week 2-4, I go a couple times, but it doesn’t take long since I only have to grab those few things. You could even do more frozen fruit and veggies if you had freezer space and only get the diary. In fact, I’ve seen posts online about how some people do freeze milk and eggs, but that’s not something that I have tried yet. Hope that helps! 🙂
Frozen eggs take so long to crack and peel. its an option but not one I recommend if you don’t have the extra minute or two per egg. also mine tend to split when they freeze, even if its a slow freeze because my fridge is acting up… if they adhere to the carton it’s kind of an undesirable situation. but doable if you all you have is a freezer.
We typically use 20-25 dozen eggs per month. We purchase from a local lady and just swing by her house occasionally and typically pick up 4-5 dozen at a time. 🙂 Easiest grocery shopping!
Though I make very few (bread-like) recipes, gluten free ones call for LOTS of eggs! I noticed that right away when, due to my autoimmune diseases, I went gluten free (actually paleo). One loaf of G.F. banana bread called for 6 eggs! Side note: Going paleo is making a very positive difference, especially in my thyroid lab results. Had to lower my meds.
Going Paleo is the best thing I’ve ever done. The inflammation in my joints has decreased and I don’t have cravings and the feeling of constant hunger.
Your right those recipes do take a lot of eggs.
I don’t know what to do as far as bulk purchases go for a single vegan. I have limited freezer and general space to store large amounts of food.I live in a communal situation in a single very cramped room. Unfortunately it means I can’t take advantage of specials. Especially bulk specials- sometimes bulk is a regular size box or packet.
An often little known fact about farm fresh eggs is that they don’t go bad quickly. We raise chickens and find that the eggs easily last a month or more. You can google how to check them for freshness to be sure before you use them if it makes you nervous. Thanks for these tips on grocery savings. I’m looking forward to putting them into practice.
Do you have an example of a menu that would go along with this shopping list?
Shannon @ GrowingSlower
Hi Karen! I don’t have an actual post, but I can email you a copy of my real meal plan off the front of my refrigerator! 🙂 You can get ahold of me at sha[email protected]
That would be great! Thanks! 🙂
[email protected] My Overflowing Cup
I love this tip, Shannon. I have shopped this way for a few years now and it has both saved us a ton of money and lots of time, as well.
Thanks so much for sharing!
Will you please send me a copy if your real meal plan from your refrigerator? I would love to have as many different ones as you have. And, any links to any resources you have for cooking for kids with type 1 diabetes. Thanks
Will you please send me a copy of your real meal plan from your refrigerator? I would love to have as many different ones as you have. thanks so much!
Hi! Can I ask where you buy your bulk items from that you purchase online? I’ve been looking for a good source for meats! Thanks 🙂
Where are you shopping online for your meat?
Hi! Stumbled upon this on Pinterest. I love these ideas. I have a question though. How come you don’t make your own peanut butter and bread? I get a 5-pound bag of organic roasted peanuts from Azure Standard for about $17, put about a pound or two of them into a food processor along with some salt and process. Easy peasy!
For the past couple years I have been shopping twice a month to save time and money…but I realized it was actually costing us way more money that way…and taking more time too. I would spend about an hour and a half carefully meal planning and making my list, then I would shop mostly Aldi, but also got some things at Kroger. But… no matter how carefully I planned, we would always forget some things, and run out of some things after the first week. So that would result in an extra trip to the grocery store, and another $70-80 spent. So recently, I came up with a new plan. Instead of spending $600+ on groceries each month, we now have a $100/week grocery budget. It’s sooooo much easier! I spend maybe 20 minutes on my meal planning and list, the grocery shopping trips are faster and easier, we rarely have food go bad, our fridge and pantry are less crowded and more organized. .. I could go on and on.
Any suggestions for vegan shoppers? Thanks from sunny Bermuda!!
Hi, my husband and I recently took the plung and two weeks ago I became a stay at home Mom. This is a first for me because I have always worked, but due to some issues at my job we decided this would be best. I am now trying to manage a budget on one income and try to feed my family. I was going to cut out wholesale shopping but after reviewing your plan, I think we can still reap the benefits of wholesale and save money. Thanks for sharing.
I’m on the last lesson of Shannon’s GSMS course. I thought I was a frugal shopper, but I have learned a **LOT**! A lot, as in paradigm shift in my shopping life. I plan on not only sharing what I’ve learned with my adult daughters, but also recommending they take the class themselves – it’s that good.
Thank you for popping in to let us know how it’s going!