Shopping can be a challenging task, especially if you keep spending more than your monthly budget. Most people end up going to the grocery store every week. It can be extremely frustrating to go out when you’ve got dozens of chores at home. A lot of us end up picking up things that they don’t need. I think we’re all guilty of buying fancy snacks that look good only on the wrapper. Plus, time is a luxury, and people end up spending a majority of it trying to think of all the things that they need. To add to the nightmare, sometimes, they end up forgetting to pick up essential items.
Well, fret not! A monthly grocery list comes to your rescue. It is a great way to turn things around, and it is a lot easier than it sounds. With some preplanning, you can save several trips to the grocery stores and save time and money. Keep reading to know how you can sail through the month by making a list.
How Is Shopping Once A Month Beneficial?
Shopping once a month can help you save a significant chunk of your time and money. It can be beneficial for those on a budget and want to stay within a specific price range. It can help you avoid picking up unnecessary things and reduce food wastage. It requires some preplanning, discipline, and, most of all, self-control.
People think that shopping once a month would deprive them of their favorite foods, and they’ll have to munch on leftovers and ready-to-cook meals for the last week of the month. But that’s not true at all. You can have healthy and nutritious meals and eat fresh food throughout the month. You can do this by stocking up on crucial things which may include milk, vegetables, fruits, canned foods, flours, rice, and other essential items. Buying in bulk can help you save money since certain items are priced at cheaper rates if they’re bought in large quantities, and since you won’t run out of these essential items, you’ll save plenty of time too!
Map It Out And Know Your Goals
While you don’t necessarily have to pre-plan your meals, you need to know how much of every ingredient you need in a month. You can do that by multiplying your weekly groceries by 4. How much salt would you need in a month? Write it down. Likewise, make a list of all the items that you need. These items should be staples or things that you consume regularly.
You can consume fresh vegetables during the first two weeks and then move on to the canned, frozen goods. This way, you won’t be depriving your body of any nutrients.
You can also find substitutes for things that you frequently need. For instance, you can use powdered milk instead of buying milk every day. You need to include foods with a longer shelf life so that you can avoid another trip to the grocery store. Your goal should be to buy cheaper fares without compromising on quality.
Learn More About Shelf Life
Some items can last for weeks, while some will go bad in a few days. Knowing how long each of them lasts is imperative. You must also know how to store each item in such a way that it stays fresh while its nutritive value isn’t compromised. You can start by dividing your grocery list roughly into three categories.
Freezer Friendly and Canned Foods:
Some vegetables like peas, carrots, and corn can stay fresh in the freezer for months. People usually assume that freezing food would make it lose its nutritional value, but that isn’t true. Canned tomatoes, peaches, pineapples, etc. taste as good as fresh ones. Canned tomatoes are perfect for quick gravies and curries.
Since these foods can stay good for a month (and even more in some cases), you can keep a stock of them and use them during the last two weeks of the month. Meat can be kept in the freezer, and it would stay good for a long time. Simply take it out an hour or two before you want to cook it. Fresh milk can be frozen too, but it might taste different and have a different texture later. These foods also cost less than fresh fruits and vegetables, so it’s better to stock up on them to have more variety and to save some extra cash.
Flours, legumes, rice, pasta, spices, herbs, and other dry essential items can stay good for a long time. Although, in some seasons, you need to be careful with flours as they may be infested with insects. Make sure to store everything in air-tight containers. This keeps the food secure and safe from pests and insects.
Fresh Fruits And Vegetables:
There are certain fruits and vegetables which can stay good for weeks, and knowing their shelf life can help you pre-plan your meals. For example, potatoes can be kept at room temperature for around 2-3 weeks, while Apples will stay nice in the fridge for about 4-8 weeks! Capsicums, leafy vegetables, string beans, cucumbers, and broccoli will remain fresh in the refrigerator for about 1-2 weeks. Garlic is a handy ingredient that can stay perfect for months at room temperature.
Stay Within Your Budget And Save Money: Ka-ching!
Set up a monthly budget and set aside an amount that you would require for your groceries and other essentials. You may even find out that you’re spending more than your budget. In such a case, you need to reduce the amount you’re spending. You can do this by buying generic items. Always make the most of the sales in your vicinity and stock items that won’t go bad anytime soon.
When you buy in bulk, you’ll save a significant amount of money. A 10kg bag of flour would cost way less than say, a 2kg bag. You’ll also be saving on the amount that you would’ve spent to go to the grocery store. If there are cheaper and healthier alternatives to the things that you regularly eat, make sure to switch over to them.
Sometimes stores have aisles and counters where you can buy trial packs or travel-sized items. These can be handy if you’re going on a trip. Since you’ll be buying mindfully, there’s no fear of food items going bad.
PRO TIP: Always have a wholesome snack before you step out to shop. This will help curb any hunger pangs you have, and you won’t spend money because of a craving. Those pickles might look nice in the jar, but you don’t need them in your kitchen right now.
Do’s and Don’ts Of Grocery Shopping
If it’s your first time making a monthly grocery list, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and add in things that you don’t need. Make sure that you only include items that you are likely to cook throughout the month. You can also allocate a certain amount of money per head and buy your groceries accordingly. For example, if you only want to spend 20$ per person in a month, you will have to pre-plan your meals accordingly.
Ensure to include nutritious and healthy foods. It can be tempting to grab a jumbo bag of potato chips, but you must refrain from adding unnecessary items to your cart. Avoid going to the market as much as possible, since you may reach out for expensive items that you don’t require. For extra savings, keep an eye on the discount codes in flyers and brochures that are often sent in the mail.
A major mistake that most people do is that they end up buying too much of one thing and not enough of another. Make sure that you add enough of each category so that you’re on a balanced diet. Don’t panic if you run out of groceries in the first few weeks; it only means that you may have estimated the food requirements incorrectly. It gives you a chance to correct your shopping list for the next month. Also, be sure to stick to your list. Always ask yourself one question: Do I want it, or do I need it?
You can’t fit in everything in the fridge, so make sure that you don’t overspend on frozen or canned foods. Storage space should be one of your primary concerns. Always store extra supplies in a clean, dry area. Keep your kitchen counters clean and store essential items in cabinets. Think about it this way: you have a pantry, a fridge, and a freezer. Divide your supplies between these three, according to their shelf life. It would be inconvenient to have stacks of essentials lined on your kitchen counter. Make space for new supplies by throwing away any expired ones. Consume the things that are likely to go stale first.
Clean your fridge and your cabinets a day before your shopping trip so that you have enough space to keep your essential items. Shop only as much as the space you have. It will help you keep things organized. You may have to go to the grocery store more than once. Even if you’re going to the store a lot less than you usually do, it’ll be worth the benefits you garner.