I left you in Step 3 wondering where I spent a good part of my money each month. I shopped at two stores and only spent about $250 out of the $400. There are certain things that I don’t buy on my once a month shopping trips – things that I may only buy every other month or once every three or six months, depending on sales and things.
One example is whole chicken. The regular price for whole chicken at Winco is usually around $1/lb. I know that the store near my house will have whole chickens on sale for about $.69/lb every three months of so. I wait and buy three months worth when they do.
Another example is cheese. The best price on cheese is usually Costco but the closest Costco is over 45 minutes away. For me that is just too far to go for just cheese. I end up going to Costco every other month or so when I have another reason to be in that area. I buy enough cheese to last for several months, until I can get back to buy it again.
I also don’t buy regular milk – I buy bulk dry milk every 5 to 6 months. I pay about $1.70 a gallon for milk. Last time I looked, I’m saving over a dollar a gallon. With 5 boys that really adds up!
I also keep money to buy produce in the middle of the month because I can’t get by on just once a month shopping yet … I’m working on our garden though so eventually I hope to!
Your life is different than mine so take what works for you and ignore the rest. It is all about finding your balance. This is what I have done to make my life better, using the resources available to me. I hope I’ve inspired you to do the same!
In Step 1 of Once a Month Shopping we made a menu plan, put together an ingredient list, and organized our cupboards. In Step 2 we figured out where we were going to shop. Today, we are going to finally go shopping! If you have done Step 1 and Step 2, this last step is easy. You just need to look in your cupboards and see what you need. If your can organizer holds 12 cans and you only have 5 left, you need to buy 7 cans. Go through you master list and mark what you need. It usually only takes me a few minutes. I try to keep a list going of unusual things that I’ve run out of too – like certain spices. The day you go shopping give yourself a couple of hours to get it all done. Plan out your attack and GO FOR IT! Last month I timed myself and it took me an hour and a half to go to two stores. I ended up spending about $250. I know, I know…. I told you at the beginning of this that I spent about $400 a month. And I do. The rest of it goes for Step 4 – The Exceptions!
In order to shop once a month you have to prepare by making a menu plan and getting an ingredient list together and organizing your cupboards so that you can figure out what you need each month (see Step 1). Once you do that you need to figure out where to do your shopping. If you shop once a month for the majority of your food you can take the time to drive to the store on the other side of town if they are the ones that consistently have lower prices. You can even go to more than one store if you need to. I do the majority of my shopping here in Southern California at Winco. It is a large warehouse type store that has a big bulk food selection. Their prices are consistently lower on most things. There are some exceptions though. I also go to a small store called Save-a-lot that has really good prices on canned goods like mushroom soup and chopped tomatoes. I buy enough of these each month that making a stop at this store just for canned goods is worth my time. Next: Step 3 – Go For It!
Three of my five sons are currently in our homeschool group’s production of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”. I was sitting with my mom and sister and they asked me a question I’ve heard many times – “Why Shakespeare?” What they meant was why go to all the trouble to study the works of a man that wrote in such old English that you need a dictionary to understand it. They also didn’t get what makes Shakespeare so great. Well, a couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar on Shakespeare given by a woman who is absolutely PASSIONATE about him. She encourages you to start reading his works to your kids when they are really little – like around 2! She gave an example of reading them the “Tempest” while they are taking a bath and pouring water on them at the appropriate parts of the story. This woman inspired me to try and turn my mom and sister on to Shakespeare. And after talking to them, I kept on thinking about it and it became really clear to me that Shakespeare would have been great at Home Ec! Especially today… Today Home Ec is about the people in the home and fulfilling the needs of those people. Shakespeare knew what people were like. That was his gift – he really KNEW the human condition. Take the “Taming of the Shrew” for one example: In the story a spoiled rotten brat of a woman (emphasis of rotten!) gets married to this man that really is only marrying her for the money but decides to tame her wild ways. He decides that when she says something mean he will act like she said something loving. When she likes something he says it isn’t good enough for her and throws it away. This woman has been told that no one loves her and that she is cursed – to have someone tell her that she is good and worthy totally changes things around for her. Just think how this can be applied in a marriage relationship or with kids! And it works too. Shakespeare really gets human nature. When you study his works you will understand it better too. You understand how to relate to other people in your family better and from this you can take it into the world and apply it to relationships with others that come into your life. By understanding the nature of the humans in your home, you can better manage the resources available to you to manage your home. Like I said – Shakespeare would have been great at Home Ec!
Yes, you read that right. I have a plan. And it will work too! Daily we are bombarded with all the news of how the government is going to do this or that to try and fix the economy. Personally, I don’t feel that is their job. Their job is to step back and let it happen. But, I digress. I want to let you in on my plan (and no, it is not to go out and spend all my money!)
My plan is to get out of debt myself. I also want to help others learn the skills to get out of debt and live within their means. I want to teach youth that they don’t have to accept debt as the normal way of life! They can suffer through a little delayed gratification and wait to buy that television they want so much rather than buy it on credit.
Can you imagine what it would be like if every person in the United States was averse to debt? The country wouldn’t be in debt! It is as easy as that!
So my quest is on. I admit I haven’t fully gotten there myself but I’m working on it … and I plan to take as many people with me as I can! Wish me well. Our country’s future is depending on it.
One blog that I read at least once a day is Money Saving Mom. Awhile ago she had a post about shopping for groceries once a month. I thought I’d share my ideas about this as well. A friend of mine told me about once a month shopping several months ago. At that point I was spending about $600/month which I thought was pretty good considering that I’m feeding 7 people (4 of them teenage boys). By switching to once a month shopping I’ve been able to save another $100-200/month! There is some organization behind it though. But once you get it down it really doesn’t take much time to do all this shopping.
Step 1: Figure out what you need
What are you going to cook?
In order to figure out the food you need you have to figure out what your family likes and you want to cook. I asked my boys and husband what their favorite meals were and then figured out a menu plan for the entire month.
What ingredients do you need for all of this?
I wrote up recipes for each meal with an ingredient list and then compiled a list of things that I had to have on hand for the month in order to make everything. This took a little bit of time but was worth it. I figured out that I want to have 10 cans of mushroom soup on hand at all times; at least 8 cans of chopped tomatoes; and 6 cans of corn.
Organize your Pantry!
I ended up getting some organizers for my cupboards that have the cans roll back and down to the front. This way I always use the oldest ones first. This organizer holds about 15 cans. I like the idea of having a little extra in case of visitors, etc. so I just always up date my cupboard to 15 cans of each of the things I use most. It means that I just need to look and see how many cans I need and put that on my list.
Next – Step 2: Picking your Store
I have this recipe that I have been perfecting for years. In fact, I have been testing it and have even had a science class I taught do experiments with it. So many people ask me for the recipe I thought I’d put it up here…
Heidi’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cube (1/2 C) margarine
8 oz cube of cream cheese
1 cube (1/2 C) butter, softened
1 1/2 C light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 C whole wheat (preferably freshly ground) flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 C chocolate chips
Mix butter, margarine and cream cheese together REALLY well. Add the sugars and beat well until completely incorporated. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. REALLY well. You want to incorporate as much air as possible here.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk together. Add to the butter/sugar/egg combination slowly but don’t over mix at this point. Once it is all incorporated add the chocolate chips. Put on ungreased cookie sheets about an inch a part and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. I have found that dark cookie sheets work the best (my students and I tested baking stones, airbake, and bright aluminum cookie sheets as well).
These cookies are soft and chewy and have a wonderful texture. With the cream cheese and whole wheat flour they are almost good for you! I have added a half cup of wheat germ occasionally to give it a nutty flavor. Enjoy!
I am getting ready to gradate my oldest son and send him off to college. It makes me reminisce about my college career. I started out as a business major at a small college in the middle of a forest. The classes were so boring I took as many textile classes as I could in order to stay sane. I took weaving, world textiles, sewing, … ANYTHING to help me through the pain of accounting! I ended up transferring to another college (one that wasn’t quite so far out in the boonies) and changed my major – to Home Economics. BUT I never told anyone I majored in Home Ec! Heaven forbid! I was majoring in textiles! Home Ec was old fashioned and out of date and that wasn’t me. I was just specializing in the type of business I was interested in, that’s all. There was this stupid class that they made me take. It was Home Ec 101. I of course put it off until my last year. This wasn’t a class for me. I wasn’t a home economist. I was going into a fabric oriented business. Or so I thought. Home Ec 101 changed my life.
This class was set up so different people from the world of home economics came and talked to us each day. It was a perfect class for a new college student to take. Why I waited so long to take it I don’t know. Anyway, one day a teacher came in to talk to us and she really spoke to my soul. You know what I mean — she touched my heart. Somehow I knew after hearing her speak that I had to teach. I don’t remember much about what she said but it was something about making a lasting impression on other peoples lives.
So, here I was almost DONE with my college experience and I suddenly get the inspiration to keep going! I didn’t want to teach kids – I wanted to teach adults who wanted to learn and if I was going to teach it was going to be something relating to my passion of textiles. I went on and got my masters degree so I could teach college.
The school I went to was in the process of changing their name from Home Economics. In fact, the first semester they insisted that I take a class in which one of my first assignments was to write a paper on what they should call this new department/college. I was excited about this assignment! I could get behind this! I could help figure out a new name to replace the old fashioned, out of date term of Home Ec that I was so reluctant to ever associate with!
But that is when it got hard. I started looking for a good term. I couldn’t find anything that worked. Everyone was going with things like “consumer science” and the like. That didn’t fit for me. We all were consumers but that term just sounded too cold and removed from what we really did. We were in the home making it better, looking at every facet and protecting and helping it. It was about families but not just families. A home was one person or it could be several people, even if they weren’t related. I ended up looking up and studying the two words “home” and “economics” to try to find new words to use. I couldn’t. Home Economics was the perfect term. It wasn’t old fashioned, it was just a term. Our homes were no longer just about women cooking and sewing. Our homes included so much more. I reluctantly wrote my paper on how we needed to keep the term “Home Economics” and just update its image. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen…
In the decades since I graduated from college most colleges have dropped their Home Economics departments. And look at the state of the American home today! We desperately need help! And the Home Economist is the perfect person to come to the rescue! But that is a story for another day….