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How to Meal Plan & Grocery Shop Once a Month

How often 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 make a monthly grocery trip. 


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

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

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

grocery shop monthly

How to Tell if Once a Month Grocery Shopping 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 not know that $4 for a cereal box 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 following deal blogs makes it much easier with technology today. 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 more significant savings, so check if you have a local store with a gas station for a better deal.

FOR MORE TIPS CHECK OUT How to Stock Your Fridge on a Budget

Family Size

It’s important to consider how many people you are feeding when you plan to shop monthly. The more people, the more food. Keep in mind that your haul will be much larger when you shop monthly, 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 must ensure 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.

the ultimate meal planning printable pack

Why Should You 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. If you need tips on how to live off your pantry and NOT grocery shop try this!

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. First, 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. Instead, 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.

ultimate simple meal planner mockup

What Should I Buy?

The really nice thing about grocery shopping at BJ’s once a month is that you can easily get what you need in the amount you need. Again, what you buy will 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 do 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.

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The charming mom

Sunday 30th of January 2022

I love grocery shopping I Once a month it really saves so much time and money!


Tuesday 1st of February 2022

Yes it really does!


Thursday 31st of December 2020

I bought your printables linked to this page and I’m so excited to use them!! However, I was on the Pinterest page and it closed before I could save all the printables and I was wondering if there was a copy that would be sent to my email? I love these ideas and can’t wait to start!!


Monday 4th of January 2021

Oh yes I'll send you some copies to your email! Thank you!


Wednesday 1st of April 2020

I shop once a month, have been doing it for a few years now. I also make a monthly menu and have a different meal each night, except for planned leftover nights. For example: Monday’s - soup and salad or sandwich, Tuesday’s - Mexican, Wednesday’s - Italian, Thursday’s - Meatless, Friday’s - Fish, Saturday’s - homemade pizza or leftovers, Sunday’s - Roast chicken so I have leftovers for workday lunches. This allows for an easy meal plan to take advantage of sale items.


Thursday 2nd of April 2020

I love your meal plans Sandy! Thanks for sharing.

Florence Ruby

Friday 13th of March 2020

I'm going try shopping once a month, I believe it will save me money. The way I shop now is ridiculous, I go over budget every month. I don't have any small kids anymore but my boyfriend is just as bad... 😂🤣😂 He's always saying "Can I have this, Can I have that". So I always forget stuff. With a list like this, I believe it would help me a lot. Thank you for this and God Bless

15 Simple Ways to Create Outstanding Meal Plans

Saturday 12th of January 2019

[…] The Frugal Farm Girl: How to Meal Plan & Grocery Shop Once a Month […]

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