How many times have you left the grocery store saying, “The price of food continues to rise.”
Or what I used to say all the time, “How did it come to that much? I hardly got any food.”
There are ways to shrink your grocery bill. Today I want to share with you how shopping once a month can save you time and money, but if you do it at a wholesale club it will sweeten the savings.
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Warehouse clubs aren’t for everyone. In fact eight years ago I had no desire to shop at a warehouse club until I got a free membership to BJs Wholesale club through an employer. Not everyone will want to grocery shop once a month, but if you give it a shot you may feel the time and money it saves is worth it. You could grocery shop once a month at any local grocery store but I find it is easier to get it done at a warehouse club.
It wasn’t until I started couponing and looking for clearance and discontinued items at BJ’s that I decided I could get the best deals there. It wasn’t until I started running this blog that I realized I had been shopping at BJ’s Wholesale Club all wrong.
Of course, you may be thinking or know someone who has these common complaints about warehouse clubs.
- Why pay to shop there?
- They don’t even give you grocery bags
- They check your cart painfully slow before you leave
EVEN WITH these three truths, I can personally tell you that you can shop at BJ’s Wholesale club for a lot less. I can’t personally speak for other warehouse clubs because every time a price comparison comes up BJs is much cheaper.
If you follow the blog here or even in our Facebook group you will soon see that BJ’s marks TONS of stuff down. They are constantly moving product to keep up with what people are buying and for us frugal money saving folks- it’s a lifesaver.
Aldi is a great store to shop once a month at. If you aren’t sold on a wholesale club all the tips below can be used at your favorite grocery store.
How to Tell if Once a Month Grocery Shopping at a Warehouse Club is Right For You
Know Your Prices
You have to know what is a good deal. If you are new to grocery shopping you may have no idea that $4 for a box of cereal is a rip-off. Or that buying Organic butter for $6 a pound at your local grocery store is way too expensive.
You have to start watching prices and specifically looking at unit prices. This takes time but with technology, today following deal blogs makes it much easier. In fact, you are already one step ahead of the game because you are here on a BJ’s money-saving deal blog.
Think about how far a warehouse club is from you.
Again for BJ’s their gas is the cheapest in our area and they often run gas promotions. Like right now in June 2017 you can save an extra $0.25 off a gallon of gas when you buy 2 participating P&G items.
Things like this make it worth the few extra miles when I can stock up on food and gas. Yet it is something to consider when it comes to saving how far is the trip.
If you are a family of two you may want to look at the cost of a membership ( even though you can get a $40 year membership with a $25 BJs gift card deal here) and see if it will outweigh the amount of shopping you do there.
For me personally, just the clearance items and all the seasonal items they have at amazing prices will keep me as a member even when my daughters are all grown up and moved out.
It is a personal preference but sometimes warehouse shopping isn’t just about the grocery savings. The seasonal items, electronics can totally make your membership worth no matter what the size of your family is.
You will need a space for all your cans, boxes and other goods when you shop once a month at wholesale clubs. When you are buying a few different types of meats at a warehouse club you will need to make sure you have enough freezer space. I always break up my meat into 1 lb. sections wrap up and then stick all those into a freezer bag.
Why Should You Shop Once A Month
Oh, we need milk. Better run to the store and get some.
Oh darn it I need spinach for this dish I’m making. Gotta run to the store.
Wait, didn’t I get toilet paper?
Oh, you know the drill!
Shopping once a month can get you organized save you money and time. It all starts with a good list.
Why Shopping Monthly Can Be A Good Idea
- Your pantry will be well stocked with the staples that you use all the time.
- You will have a better idea of what you are going to eat. No more last minute meal planning.
- Your food budget will stretch the entire month.
- It allows for bulk buying.
- It’s a real time saver! I have stopped shopping at three stores and am now doing all of my grocery/household shopping at BJ’s and it saves me time and my brain power 🙂
- Planning ahead and buying in bulk always saves you money
How Do I Get Started?
This may take a bit of your time but will be worth it in the long run. You want to make two lists:
- One – Things you always like to keep on hand – think pasta, rice, ketchup, etc.
- Second – Items you will need for the current month.
Free Printables are included at the bottom to help you organize and plan your shopping trip.
The second one you will get from your meal planning. This can be as detailed as you like, or like me, you may just have an idea of what your family likes each month and your main meal preparation is fairly repetitive.
You can check out my meal menus here if you need some inspiration.
Don’t stress over this part. Do what works for you but also keep in mind a bit of planning now is going to benefit you in the long run. And once you tweak your system it should run like a well-oiled machine.
What Should I Buy?
The really nice thing about once a month grocery shopping at BJ’s is you can easily get what you need in the amount you need. What you buy is, again, going to depend on your meal plan for the month but there are always things it is just wise to have plenty of on hand. Here are some items to get you started.
If you want to shrink your grocery bill more, use coupons. Save yourself the hassle and use the popular store coupon matchup lists here. There are over 20 to choose from.
- Coffee or Tea
- Peanut butter
- Pasta Sauces
- Canned soups (especially Cream of (fill in the blank)- good for so many things
- Canned vegetable and fruits
- Jams & Jellies
- Canned beans (for things like quick and easy refried beans)
- Condiments, mayo, salad dressings, ketchup, mustard
- Cooking oils
Dairy – These items keep 3 – 4 weeks easily
- Baking goods – sugar, flour, yeast etc
- Pasta – have several different kinds on hand.
- Oatmeal, cereals
- Nuts, granola
- Snacks – chips, etc – you may have to hide these from the family to make them stretch!
- Meat (buy fresh & freeze)
- Meatballs, chicken nuggets, etc
- Pre-made meals for emergencies (lasagna etc)
- Waffles, pancakes
- Paper towels
- Toilet Paper
- Ziploc Bags
- Baby/hand wipes
- Garbage bags
- Dish soap
- Laundry soap
- Hair care – shampoo, etc
- Feminine Products
- Soap, body wash
- Toothpaste, mouthwash
Produce – These will last when stored someplace cool & dry.
- Potatoes, regular & sweet
- Winter Squash (butternut, etc)
Pulling It All Together
Start today by writing down the things you know you go through each month.
How many eggs you eat, what you typically eat for breakfast, etc. Then look at your menu for dinner. A two-week rotation of meals can be good. That way you only eat the same thing twice in a month. Plan for things like busy sports nights.
Then break down your meals into ingredients you need to buy. See which ones you can buy in bulk. Keep in mind buying in bulk is usually advantageous but not always! Compare unit pricing to see if it really saves you.
Put It Into Action
- Go through your pantry and freezer and make a list of what is there. No sense buying what you already have. Use up current stock first.
- Make your list.
- Clean out the fridge before you go shopping.
- Try to shop without little ones along.
- Consider shopping and buying with a friend for the things that are in bulk. Condiments are an amazing price at BJ’s but even two big jars of mustard may expire before you use it.
- Add the fresh or perishable things you will need for your first week of meals.
BJ’s is a fantastic store for putting this system in place. You can buy in bulk, fresh – whatever you need. You may also find stores like Aldi are great for produce. Another great idea is to look at the coupons/ clipless coupons and marked down items at BJ’s each month and plan your meals around those items as well.
Sign up for a $5 membership for 3 months here.
4 FREE PRINTABLE SHEETS TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR MONTHLY SHOPPING TRIPS
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