You’ve probably heard of OAMC or once a month cooking, but have you ever considered OAMS, once a month shopping? Just like planning your meals out for the entire month, it seems like a big task. Here are some tips that can make it easier.
Why Shop Once per Month?
Just like menu planning for the entire month, once a month shopping gives you extra time every day or week when you would have been doing your shopping to do something, anything else. I have found myself sick on the couch and grateful for a packed pantry. And if you are anything like me, extra things find themselves in your cart every time you make a run to the store, and those purchases add up.
Write Your List
You have your handy dandy menu plan all laid out using some easy tips. That will make this shopping list much easier. Now I go straight down my list and write out what I will need. If my first meal is tacos, I will write down ground beef and cheese. As I go down my list, I will very likely find other recipes that I will need ground beef or cheese for, so I will just add hash marks behind those ingredients every time I see them. It doesn’t take much extra time to pick up 4 packs of cheese instead of 1, so you will not be shopping 4 times longer than usual.
Plan Your Day
I visit 3 to 4 stores on my shopping day. I usually use my grocery store ads to plan my meals, so I already know which store has the best deal on each item (although many sales are seasonal so you may find that your area stores are pretty competitively priced on each item). I am feeding a family of six, so I usually wind up filling my minivan pretty full. I run through my favorite store once to get all of my nonperishables, and after I load my van I go back in for the perishable items. You should plan to bring a cooler or save all of your perishable purchases for your last stop. Don’t forget to set your crock pot up for supper beforehand or grab an easy supper while you are out so you don’t have to put supper together once you get home.
What to Do About Perishables
Yet another benefit to once a month shopping is the fewer trips I make to the store, the fewer impulse buys I make. For me, it is still a savings if I ask my husband to pick up a gallon of milk on his way home from work or if I go to our local produce market for nothing but produce (although I sometimes struggle walking past their wine selection!). But if you are creative enough, you can even avoid these stops. Gallons of milk freeze well, and so does bread. If you choose your fruit carefully you can eat the fruits like bananas and grapes that are quick to rot first, then move on to pears, apples, oranges a little later in the month. My children often pack their lunches with raisins and other dried fruits, or fruit that I have canned when we get later in the month.
How to Pay
For many people this will be the tricky part. How do you pay for an entire month’s worth of groceries at once? The first month will be the toughest. Can you get creative and eat food from your pantry for two weeks and save the money you would have spent on groceries? If not, perhaps you can save a few dollars from each shopping trip until you have saved enough to pay for a month’s worth of groceries. Or just make a commitment to buy a months worth of some household staples that are on a good sale.
Things to Consider
Once a month shopping is not for everyone. Maybe your health doesn’t allow you to shop all day, or you don’t have enough freezer space. You may be in a season of life that is just too busy for this time commitment. Some of us might need to think of creative ways to store all of those extra boxes and cans of food. No matter what your situation is, I hope this post encourages you to think creatively about your next shopping trip.
What can you do differently on your next shopping trip to make yourself more prepared to eat?