Costco is like Disneyland - Shopping Once a Month to Save

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I scour the cupboards and the fridge, which are all looking sparse by this time in the month.  I begin to check off my lists and get the kids excited by talking about rolling around in carts, eating food samples and looking at new books.  They are thrilled at the thought and start squealing with joy.  You would think we were headed to Disneyland based on their excitement level but no, it is just our shopping day for the month.  We load up in the car and head over to Costco. Two cartfuls and about $350 dollars spent in merchandise later, we then drive to the grocery store.  We pick up the missing pieces spending around $50 dollars at Trader Joes and get home. Bellies are full and hearts are happy – we are ready for a new month!

As I shared in my first post, it had been a struggle to find a way  to stay at home with my children. Unfortunately, in our younger married years we were not skilled or intentional about saving and this is something I would absolutely have done differently. As a result, we now needed to cut our budget drastically. I didn't know how we were going to fix it.  What I did know, was that we were spending more money and time on groceries than we should have been.  I read other blogs and researched how some families were living on less and how they were doing it. So, after looking around, I decided the biggest way we could do this was to try shopping once a month.

We went from spending around $1,000 dollars a month on our grocery bill, and now we spend less than $500.  As we get better at knowing how to do this we continue little by little to save more.  I get crazy looks sometimes when I share that this is one of the ways we spend less.  Like I said there have been mistakes and changes since starting which I will share here, but I now LOVE shopping this way!  Here are the basics and how it works because it truly does!

-    We grocery shop one day a month (I shop at a bulk stores and then the normal grocery store)
-    We keep an inventory list of what needs to be stocked monthly and shop strictly to this list. 
-    I meal plan our grocery list based off that inventory list and meals are simple… they consist of oatmeal, cereal, egg and toast breakfasts, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches and salad lunches, and spaghetti, pasta, casserole, and chicken dinners (with sides of fruit/veggies)
-    We cook and freeze our meat, veggies and fruits in portions at the beginning of the month so that they will last throughout.  
-    I make as much as I can from scratch including bread, granola, pancake mixes, cakes, soaps, laundry detergents and cleaners.
-    We eat our freshest items first in the month and save the frozen items for later
-    We grow what we can during the gardening seasons such as herbs and produce

Some side tips and things I have learned along the way…
-    We do not enjoy freezing our milk and love having some fresh fruit midway through the month, so I will take a mid month trip to our Costco to pick up only these things.
-    Determine what you feel strongly about buying organic.  Some things we do and others we don’t. It is not impossible, but this drives the cost up or down.  
-    Start small at first.  Maybe try shopping twice a month and give your self grace to practice and not save all at once.

Some challenges we have faced along the way...
-    A couple months we had to spend more than normal just to stock up the pantry again (but this evens out eventually).
-    Like I said earlier, we prefer getting fresh milk and produce halfway through so it is an additional quick trip to the store.
-    We don’t get fancy or very creative with our meals… but don’t feel like we are lacking either. 
-    When sharing this with others I know that many people suffer from food allergies.  I know that this plan is still possible but would take some extra effort when working around such restrictions.  

I hope that those of you who may be looking for ways to save financially for whatever reasons will be encouraged that you can get creative.  This is one way to cut your budget out of many! I look forward to sharing how we continue to make our finances work and appreciate your support! I would love to hear how you find ways to save down below in the comment section!