Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bulk Freezer Cooking - Grocery Shopping Tips

So, if you haven't clicked over to check out the Once A Month Meals program -- please do... I promise you won't regret it!

Now, lets assume you have a menu and you're ready to click on the link to print your grocery shopping list. An example from my first trip is below. Keep in mind that it is best to make this shopping trip coincide with your Sam's or Costco trip too. You will get a far better deal on meat and things in bulk than you can get at the regular grocery store. I did my shopping at HEB, which I know is only in Texas... but use the place that has the best deals for you. If I had an Aldi near my house - I'd check that out, but there just isn't one conveniently located to my house yet.

If I had gotten down to the tomato products -- those numbers were outrageous... like 115 oz of tomato sauce! I haven't shopped Costco for that yet, but I was able to find large boxes of tomato sauce that had like 33 ounces in each box.

So my tips and the Once a Month Meals team's tips as well are:

  1. Do not shop and cook on the same day. I hadn't planned to cook on the same day as I shopped, luckily -- because you seriously come home from the store wiped out! I was tired after doing such a marathon of shopping, but I did feel prepared for the store. I was even pleasantly surprised with the reasonable amount of money I spent!
  2. Shop using sales and coupons. Everyone has their own strategy for getting deals, be sure you check to see if your grocery store has an app that you can use to load online coupons to your shopping card or account. Use coupons as you can. Shop at bulk stores like Sam's or Costco to get your meats in bulk. Do your homework on what you need, and on where is the best place to get it for your budget.
  3. Find childcare. If have children, find childcare.  Grocery shopping in bulk is hard enough without having to corral small children or explain to your curious 7 year old why you need 25 bell peppers.  If you don’t have a regular babysitter, consider trading off with friends.  Even if they don’t shop in bulk, I’m sure they would LOVE a trip to the grocery story alone.
  4. Block off time to shop. Schedule about 2-3 hours for grocery shopping, more if you are shopping for 6+ people. It's a concentrated task.
  5. Budget for the meals. For an average of four servings, budget between $150-300 for most of our menus.  If you are cooking the Paleo or Whole Foods menu, it can run a bit higher.  Of course, if you follow the tips in #2, your budget will be on the lower end of that range.  
  6. Review your grocery list. Review your menu's grocery list a day or two before you plan to shop in order to look through the pantry for what you already have. I always think I know how many onions I have, but when I get to the store, I tend to second guess myself. "Do I really have 10 onions? I could have sworn I had a full bag?" Just take the extra time to really look and even measure if necessary. Also, don't forget to shop for the extras that your family uses on a regular basis.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes. Yes, this should be a no brainer.  I know this seems simple, but seriously -- don't go in flip flops!
  8. Bring a pen! Bring at least one pen and I recommend two. Don’t just assume you have one in the bottom of your purse or pocket. (Personal experience here.)
  9. Shop at an "off" time. Schedule your big shopping day at an off time for the grocery store.  The meat goes on sale on Tuesday before the new ads come out the next day. Plus, most people aren’t out shopping at 8pm on a weeknight.  
  10. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer beforehand.  Also, make sure your countertop space is clutter free.  You will be coming in with a lot of groceries and you need somewhere to put everything before the big day. Thankfully, we have a second fridge in our garage -- which is fairly empty... so that is where all my overflow goes from the inside fridge/freezer.

    It may seem daunting, but if I can do this -- YOU can too! I promise! Please if anyone has any questions or needs help getting started, leave me a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP!

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