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November 04, 2008

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Amber

Oh my!

Kim, I *did* subscribe to your rss feed after I enjoyed your blog so much the other day - so I was very excited to look & see the first post was this one! I made this very same decision about 3 weeks ago!!

I have been a weekly shopper for a long time, always making a list and planning my weekly meals, but I was becoming conscious of dragging my children through the fluro-lit, heavily-comercialised supermarket store so often. I also wanted to make a stand for local food & frugal living & prioritising organics.

I took my weekly food budget and multiplied it by the full month & decided to give a small chunk (less than a third) to the supermarket (shopping there just once a month for the *essentials* that couldn't be bought elsewhere at a better price/quality). An almost-equal chunk of the money to go towards shopping at our local health-food wholesalers and then the rest of the monthly budget (almost half) is split into a generous amount for spending at our local farmers market each Thursday. Here I can buy a weekly supply of fruit, vegies, eggs, coffee, farm-house cheeses etc. etc!

I can buy almost everything organic or biodynamic or at least spray-free & the boys take a basket each and talk to the people who also grow the food. It's so lovely. I'm still having to get used to not having so much pre-made food in the cupboards, I've had to cut back on a lot of things but am rejoicing in buckets of blueberries and huge salads and delicious sprouts.

I did my first month-shop this weekend (I did a trial fortnight-shop 2 weeks before that) so only time will tell how we go! I have had to hide a bag of crackers and favourite foods away at the back of the cupboard so that all the treats aren't gobbled in this first week but I am so excited about this new plan.

I even had to abandon the last things in my trolley at the store so as to stick to my budget but I found it empowering rather than embarassing ;)

I look forward to reading more about your adventures and visiting some of the links you mentioned. Congratulations!

P.s. Sorry this 'comment' is *so* long and thanks for your email about Steiner and Montessori. I printed out some of your past posts last night and enjoyed them.

Erin

Kim

We have been shopping once a month for close to four years now, and I highly recommend it. It does help to save even more by shopping to the menu list. Originally we found a few little glitches of things we forgot in the first couple of months but things settled down then.

I do buy fruit,veg, milk and bread at the local Farmer's Produce once a week when I am in taking children to sport.

I have the grocery list printed on the computer by aisle order which is great, even my dc can help, it is a family outing. (can you tell I am married to an organised man)

Juli

How many carts do you have to use? That's a big concern for me, because I usually have my husband watch the children when I go to the store every two weeks and I can barely get everything in one cart. Even then I still have people giving me looks, because my cart is heaping full. The baggers do not like me too much. :) I was about to start going once a week so I wouldn't have quite the heaping cart. I also feel like when I stock up for so long that I impulse by even more, because I feel like I won't be back for a long time and might need more of something.
I'll have to look in the books you recommended and try the methods you suggest. I only have five children right now, so I'm sure that I could do it.
I also love the Duggars. I love their show and Kids by the dozen. I like to watch those shows to see how people do it with so many kids. It gives me confidence that I can do it with only five kids. I also have quite a few fertile years left, so who knows how many we will have!

Diane

Even as a single person, this works well for me. I do a menu based on total number of meals for the month, then run the recipes through my cookbook software. The software will prepare a combined grocery list (yay, MasterCook!).

While I don't do all the cooking at once, it is nice to come home from work and KNOW I have the ingredients on hand to make a decent dinner. If I cook a couple of days in a row, I end up with great leftovers for lunches.

It has definitely saved me some money, even with an additional trip to the store mid-month to replace the depleted fresh produce.

Vicki

Kim, I've been toying with this idea for a while now, but your post just convinced me to do it. I signed up and ordered the book. Cooking and planning takes up such a large part of my day that I can't imagine being able to use that time for something else. Thanks for the info and the encouragement! I'm passing on an award to you on my blog. Thanks.

Vicki

Kim, I've been toying with this idea for a while now, but your post just convinced me to do it. I signed up and ordered the book. Cooking and planning takes up such a large part of my day that I can't imagine being able to use that time for something else. Thanks for the info and the encouragement! I'm passing on an award to you on my blog. Thanks.

Monique

Thanks for sharing this idea. I only have 5 kids right now also so I'm interested on how you stock up on things like milk and produce. Please keep sharing!
We don't have a farmer's market here most of the year so I can only get produce at the grocery store. We were successful with our garden this year so that is definitely on the plan for next year! I've still got tomatoes a month later. Must do something with those!

Milehimama

Kim,
I would love to know how this works! I have wanted to do this, but have only been able to get down to "once every ten days" shopping. Our main snacks are fruits and vegetables, which just don't keep for a month; also, we go through 3-4 gallons of milk per week and I can't figure out how to keep a month's worth in the fridge! (We no longer have a large freezer, darn it all.)

Kim

Couple answers:
Carts - We used three but since our base commissary was out of a few things we did have to make a stop at a second store. And yes, people DO comment. In fact we didn't get around the second aisle when a man spotted our bacon and sausage. (two packages for a meal times 4 meals) He began loudly proclaiming to his wife and anyone else nearby that he was going home with the 'bacon lovers'. Plan to smile a lot and perhaps carry a sign explaining you shop once a month and are not taking home fellow shoppers.

America's Cheapest Family freezes milk. We freeze our goat's milk by the half gallon in gallon size ziplock bags. The bags stack and it keeps fine. Evaporated (canned) milk is another late month option. You can add to baked goods to up the calcium or make smoothies with frozen fruit. I would avoid dry milk. I have read it contributes to free radical production.

Eggs can be stored 2-3 wks past their 'sell buy' date. If you get farm fresh eggs they keep a long time.

The "Cheapest" family also staggers their use of produce. For instance grapes and salad fixings are very perishable and must be eaten within a week. Carrots and apples store better. Cabbages, winter squash and potatoes can last even longer. You can have a produce rich diet by varying your consumption vs relying on the most popular types. It also saves a fortune since beets and cabbage, while equally high in vitamins and fiber, are far cheaper than oranges and grapes (and lower in sugar)

My thought is that a diet low in sugar and refined flour and high in protein makes up for a lot. If you soak and sprout your seeds and beans you can boost the vitamin content considerably and save money.

And finally - on planning - yes, it takes an enormous amount of time to plan and prepare meals. Even if you preplan and shop once then cook later you have cut out a huge chunk of your work. We have had luck with two options - either make the same meals each week every week or make the month's worth of meals every month. Most families really just want a hot tasty meal each night. You don't need to reinvent the menu weekly. It is more than most get to if you are preparing the food!

Amber

LOve it!
I can also recommend having some non-dairy milk cartons (my husband likes Rice Milk better than dairy) in the back of the cupboard. With freezing regular milk however - how long do you find it takes to defrost in the fridge? My attempts at this weren't very successful ;)

Barb

I do shop every other week, totally saves on money! Every time I walk through a store, seems I'm $100 poorer. :) I'd love to move down to once a month. I do that once a month cooking several times a year. Have found that so many of the recipes are wonderful for KIDS to manage, i.e. peeling and cooking 15 pounds of potatoes, or mixing up meat for meatloaf and meatballs. Great ideas.

Liz

I tagged you with "I love your blog" award. Directions on my blog!

9ndhouse

Great post and comments. We shop once a month also, it really saves the time and money. I too make a list of meals I want to prepare for the month, make a shopping list and away we go. I use the most perishable fruits and veggies first as we go through the month, with lots of frozen fruit and veggies later in the month. I also have several shelves of home-canned food from the summer. Sometimes a quick run into a store for some fresh salad greens is a must but with my husband around it's usually in and out :-) I don't have the milk problem, we dip it straight from the milk tank. Dilute it a little and it goes a long way, especially since we don't drink it, only cook and bake with it due to allergies.
I get a lot of the looks and comments too, but usually I just smile and move on. I'm on a mission and don't have time to detail my life to someone on every isle. I always pray though that I'll pay enough attention to know when the Lord wants me to say something about Him to someone, as much as I would love to shop and run, even the grocery store is a field white unto harvest.
I'm going to enjoy reading these helpful books and maybe pick up a few more tips! Thanks!!! :-)

Kitty

Unfortunately, our paycheck only covers 2 weeks of groceries at a time, but many of the once-a-month ideas can be adapted, and sales on meats & seasonal fruits can be taken advantage of for a whole month of meals and beyond. For instance, when local apples are cheap, we buy a couple of big boxes, and make a day of washing, peeling, coring, slicing, and making applesauce and apple pie filling for the whole year. I save a little bit of money each month so that in the fall I can do this with apples, in summer with peaches. I save up to buy pork loins on sale (right now, actually) so we can make our tamales for Christmas dinner. When fresh berries are on sale, I buy as much as I can afford and lay them out on waxed paper to freeze without touching each other. As soon as they are frozen, I put them in freezer bags to use throughout the winter.

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