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I’ve noticed over the past couple years that local social media groups I follow are always buzzing with questions on weekly grocery bills when school is about to start. Maybe it’s the time of year that everyone stresses about because of all the extra activity going on.
Whatever the reason, it amazes me how much people are actually spending per week at the grocery store! I’m definitely not judging, everyone has different needs and maybe there are special brands that have to be purchased — I’ve just always been very frugal when it comes to budgets. So I thought I would start sharing my Weekly Menu Plans in the event it helps keep you on, or near, budget.
WHY SHOULD I MENU PLAN?
I have found that sitting down once a week to pick out meals and put together my grocery list really cuts down on the extra buying. When you look at each of the meal’s ingredients, you might just notice you only need to purchase one or two items at the store to make that meal.
Now to me, menu planning does not mean that I will make a certain meal on a specific day of the week, because sometimes I just don’t feel like making that dinner tonight or we have to rush because I forgot we have a baseball game at 5p. So my meal plan is simply a list of meals that we are going to have at some point during that week.
WHAT’S THE BUDGET?
Your budget will likely differ from ours but just as a place to start, I’ll share what we do. For our family of seven, I budget $150 per week for groceries (this includes: shampoo, conditioner, soap/bodywash, dishwasher detergent and any other miscellaneous items that are needed on top of groceries)
We also budget $175 every 3 weeks, or once a month, for a Costco trip. From Costco, we buy bulk items – our regulars are: toilet paper, bottled water, coffee, shredded cheddar, sour cream, bread, tortillas, rice, trash bags, laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant and some snacks if they happen to be on sale.
HOW CAN WE FEED THE FAMILY ON THAT??
The key to keeping a low grocery bill is stocking staples so you always have basics on hand and therefore minimize what you actually need to buy each week to fresh produce and the like. I also utilize online grocery shopping. I’ve been shopping this way for the last 3 years or so and it’s been a huge money saver. I prefer doing my grocery shopping at Walmart because it’s free and convenient but there are many stores that offer this method.
I used to think online shopping was only for those lazy moms who couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves. But when you realize how much easier it is to not have to worry about taking a baby (or crew of kids) into the store with you, walking up and down every aisle and mindlessly grabbing things you think you need or just because it looks good, your mind will be made up!
STOCK YOUR PANTRY: STAPLES
Having the ability to keep plenty of staples on hand is the reason our new home design includes a giant walk-in pantry (it’s 5×13)! This also means that you can easily throw together a meal if you’ve run out of planned recipes or delayed your grocery trip for any reason. This list of pantry staples is full of the items I like to keep in my own kitchen because they are so versatile, are fairly inexpensive and can be kept in storage for an extended amount of time.
- Rice (we keep white rice on hand)
- Sugar (white, brown and confectioners)
- Flour (all purpose)
- Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Cocoa Powder
- Pasta (elbow, rotini, spaghetti, egg noodles, lasagna)
- Nuts (sliced almonds, walnuts, pecan pieces)
OILS, VINEGARS, SAUCES:
- Vegetable Oil (or Olive Oil)
- Vinegars (red wine, white, rice, balsamic)
- Soy Sauce
- Ketchup (we buy sugar free or low sugar)
- Mustard (brown and regular)
- BBQ sauce (we buy sugar free)
- Pasta Sauce
- Peanut Butter
- Nutella (we buy Great Value Hazelnut spread)
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Italian Seasoning
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Chili Powder
- Dry Mustard
- Celery Salt
- Vanilla Extract
- Almond Extract
- Taco Seasoning
- Lemon Pepper
- Beans (kidney, canellini, black, refried)
- Tomatoes (diced, stewed, sauce, paste)
- Chocolate Chips
- Bouillon (Chicken and Beef)
- Enchilada Sauce
- Taco Shells
- Soups (Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom, Cheddar Cheese)
- Vegetables (Corn, Green Beans, Sweet Peas)
- Pie Crusts
- Chicken Breasts
- Beef (various cuts)*
- Sour Cream
- Cheddar Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Butter (we buy3-4 at a time and freeze)
- Veggies (Carrots, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic)
- Fruits (Bananas, apples, strawberries, blueberries)
*We purchase our beef through a local farmer, 1/2 cow will last us well over a year. We request mostly ground beef but also steaks, stew meat and roasts.
- Wheat Bread (we buy 3-4 twin packs at Costco and freeze)
- Tortillas (corn and flour)
So there it is — I know the list seems long but once you’re stocked, you just have to keep it that way. I try to always keep 4-5 of each canned good item and every week while making my grocery list, I check if all of the staples are full or need to be replenished.