monthly grocery list tips

How to Meal Plan & Grocery Shop Once a Month


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.”

Today I want to share how you can make a grocery list full of food to eat for an entire MONTH to save you time and money.  I’ve included printables to help you make a monthly grocery list successful.

Shopping at BJs has become one of my favorite places. Wholesale clubs are easier to shop at monthly, but any store you choose this method will work. I tend to stock up at BJs and Tops Markets. 

Aldi is another option that is affordable and easy to do a monthly grocery trip. 


Suppose you love printables and staying organized. I have updated these to a Holiday theme.

  • Printable Monthly Grocery List– Get all the items you need with a space to write what coupons you’re using.
  • Printable Monthly  Grocery Inventory List– Figure out what you already have and need to buy.
  • Printable Quick Meal Planner– This will help you organize meals for the entire month.
  • Quick Meal Planning Guide– Know what you’re having for meals for 7 days at a time.
How to Meal Plan & Grocery Shop Once a Month

Grab these printables and meal planning guide HERE. ( That is my sister site)

I find wholesale clubs the easiest to shop monthly. You can get a $25 BJs membership for the year here.

You can get a Costco membership here online and get a $10 or $20 Costco shop card.

You can get a Sam’s Membership for $45 and get a $20 egift card- so like paying $25 for the whole year here.

How to Tell if Once a Month Grocery Shopping at 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. Meal planning to save money 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 frugal living blog.

Think about how far the store you want to shop is from you. 

I love to do monthly shopping at wholesale clubs like Costco and BJs. These stores will give you greater savings, so check to see if you have a local store with a gas station for a better deal.

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 the trip is.

Family Size

It’s important to keep in mind how many people you are feeding when you plan to shop monthly. The more people, the more food. Keep in mind that when you shop monthly, your haul will be much larger, and so will the out-of-pocket cost. 

Read or Pin: How to Calculate Your Personal Family Grocery Budget

Storage Space

You will need a space for all your cans, boxes, and other goods when you shop once a month at wholesale clubs. For example, when 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 

How to Meal Plan & Grocery Shop Once a Month
  • Monday:
  • Oh, we need milk. Better run to the store and get some.
  • Tuesday:
  • Oh darn it I need spinach for this dish I’m making. Gotta run to the store.
  • Wednesday:
  • Wait, didn’t I get toilet paper?
  • Thursday.
  • 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 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.

The second one you will get from your meal planning. This can be as detailed as you like, or like me, you may have an idea of what your family likes each month, and your main meal preparation is fairly repetitive.

Check out how I meal plan for $60 a week on groceries.

You can check out my meal menus here if you need some inspiration.

Don’t stress over this part. Do what works for you and keep in mind a bit of planning now will benefit you in the long run. And once you tweak your system, it should run like a well-oiled machine.

Grab my Printables and Meal Planning Guide HERE.

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. Again, what you buy is 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. There are some really great apps to save money instead of clipping them the old fashion way.

Read or Pin:

Canned Goods

  • 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

  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

Dry Goods

  • Baking goods – sugar, flour, yeast etc
  • Pasta – have several different kinds on hand.
  • Oatmeal, cereals
  • Rice
  • Nuts, granola
  • Crackers
  • Snacks – chips, etc – you may have to hide these from the family to make them stretch!

Frozen Foods

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Meat (buy fresh & freeze)
  • Meatballs, chicken nuggets, etc
  • Pre-made meals for emergencies (lasagna etc)
  • Pizza
  • Waffles, pancakes

Household Items

  • Paper towels
  • Toilet Paper
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Baby/hand wipes
  • Garbage bags
  • Dish soap
  • Laundry soap

Personal Items

  • Hair care – shampoo, etc
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine Products
  • Soap, body wash
  • Toothpaste, mouthwash

Produce – These will last when stored someplace cool & dry.

  • Apples
  • Potatoes, regular & sweet
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Winter Squash (butternut, etc)

Check out my Ultimate List of What to Have in You Pantry To Cook Cheap Meals Here.

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 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. ( For more specific tips on how to do this, go here.)
  • Make your list.
  • Clean out the fridge before you go shopping.
  • Try to shop without little ones alone.
  • Consider shopping and buying with a friend for the things that are in bulk. For example, 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 every month and plan your meals around those items as well.


  1. Debbie February 27, 2018
    • Tasia February 27, 2018
  2. Shelly Bucci March 1, 2018
  3. Nani Jones December 30, 2018
  4. Florence Ruby March 13, 2020
  5. Sandy April 1, 2020
    • Tasia April 2, 2020
  6. Alyssa December 31, 2020
    • Tasia January 4, 2021

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.