How to Do Once-a-Month Grocery Shopping in 8 Simple Steps

Cassandra Smet
by Cassandra Smet

If you’re interested in learning how to grocery shop once a month, then this step-by-step tutorial is for you. I will teach you why once-a-month grocery shopping is worth the planning and the logistics that go along with the trip.

I also include tips and tricks on how you can save money on your food bill. I have broken my monthly grocery shopping trip into eight easy, simple steps that I use for my family of five.

Cleaning out the fridge

1. Clean out the fridge

Here’s where most of my perishables are kept and I want to make sure I’m using them up as I’m heading into the next month.

If I have any peppers or mushrooms left, for example, I want to make sure that I’m planning meals where I’ll use them right away before they go bad. This prevents food waste, which saves a lot of money.

I take everything out of the fridge and wipe it down. Doing this makes room for the next month’s grocery haul. I come home with a lot of groceries for a month’s haul that needs to fit into my fridge all at once. It also helps me take a quick inventory of what’s left.

2. Clean out the pantry

Once the fridge is cleaned out, I do the same thing with my pantry. I have a working pantry which means that everything in there is going to be used up and gone by the end of the month.

I take everything out, vacuum the shelves, take inventory, and put everything back neatly. With three kids, my pantry can become really gross with empty boxes and spills.

I especially pay attention to breakfast items, like cereals and oatmeal, that I buy in bulk every three to six months or so. I’ll just make sure all of those items are stocked up.

Cleaning out the freezer

3. Clean out the freezer

I will then go to the basement to clean out my freezers. I take a quick peek at all three of our chest freezers. 

Making a meal plan

4. Make the meal plan

There are tons of different ways to make your meal plan. Every family has favorite meals that they eat monthly. Our meal plan changes based on the season.

For example, in the winter we like to eat more soups and casseroles. In the summer we like to grill more, make cold pasta salads, and eat lots of fresh produce from our garden so our meals revolve around that.

I also like to use Pinterest the most for dinner ideas. It may be a good idea to make a recipe binder filled with printed-out recipes as you find them. Then you can flip through the binder and make your meal plan off those recipes that you know your family likes.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it when you’re making a meal plan for an entire month. You can print out a calendar of the month and write in your meals for each day.

I used to do that, but now I just write down the meals on a piece of notebook paper. I just number the lines for each day of the month and write down my meals in a list.

5. Make the grocery list

Once the meal plan is set, I make a detailed monthly grocery shopping list. I used to write down every single ingredient I needed for every single meal back when I was less experienced with this process.

This step takes a lot of time, though, especially when planning meals for an entire month. What I’ve started to do, though, is take my meal plan and count how many bags of cheese I’ll need, how many bags of peppers I’ll need, how many cans of tomato sauce I’ll need–and then I just write down the number I need on my grocery list.

So it will look something like this: two bags of cheddar cheese, four bags of mozzarella cheese, three cans of diced tomatoes, and one can of tomato puree, etc. That way it simplifies my list.

6. Add household items

Once the meal plan is done, I’ll take my grocery list and walk through my house to see what household items I need and add them to the same list. My food and household budget are combined.

I’ll check on the stock of shampoos, soap, razors, shaving cream, lotion, cleaning products, paper goods, and laundry detergents. 

Grocery shopping

7. Go grocery shopping

Once my list is ready, I then hit the stores. I split my grocery shopping between Aldi and Walmart. I go to Aldi first because they have the best prices though prices everywhere are rising so that may not be the case for all items. But I still get the bulk of my groceries at Aldi.

Putting away groceries

8. Put away groceries

Once I’m done with Aldi, I will come home and put the groceries away. I then hop online to do a Walmart grocery order for pick up. (Walmart delivery isn’t available in my area.)

This is where I get my household items and any leftover grocery items that I didn’t pick up at Aldi. Once I pick up the Walmart order, I will come home and put those items away. Then, I’m set for the entire month!

I used to go back to the store in the middle of the month for things like eggs, milk, bread, and fresh produce. Now I do a true once-a-month haul at the beginning of each month and don’t go back for a mid-month haul.

The only thing I might get in the middle of the month is milk, or an extra gallon of milk a week. I tried freezing milk for a while but my family didn’t like the texture of it.

Once-a-month grocery shopping

I hope learning how to grocery shop for a month has inspired you to try it. It cuts down your food bill and eliminates food waste.

Let me know if you think shopping once a month is something you want to do or avoid. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Join the conversation
2 of 19 comments
  • Carolyn Carolyn on Jan 29, 2024

    Great ideals from the article and comments! I goggled strawberry hack last summer. Don't wash before placing in jars, mine fresh 2 weeks later. I also store 20 lbs rice in glass jars. It's how I recycle glass!

  • Marie Marie on Mar 12, 2024

    That sounds great. IF you have room for 3 chest freezers, which I don't. I live in a reasonably sized SoCal house but I barely have room for the fridge/freezer I have. I don't have a basement and our garage has cars and tools in it. But I am happy it works for you!