Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thrifty Thoughts- Two Week Grocery Plan

Life can be crazy and busy.
In an effort to cut down on my time at the grocery store as well as cut down on our grocery budget I've come up with a Two Week Grocery Plan system.

I am by no means an expert.
Far from it.
This is just the system that works for me.
I've tried all sorts of systems and different ways.
I've tried grocery shopping once a week.
I've tried grocery shopping every few days.
I've tried not meal planning but just winging it.
I've tried talking my husband into going out to eat the majority of the week.

You name it and I've tried it :)
And I might add that all of those ways ended up costing us quite a bit of money.
And honestly...I'd rather spend my money on a vacation than on food. :)
Long story short...I have found that for our family two weeks worth of groceries works best.
Here's why.

It saves us money and it saves me time.
I am not running back and forth into the store several times a week.
I know that every time I go into the store for a loaf of bread I will more than likely
come back out with something else that I thought we might need.
Chocolate, juice, icecream...obviously not needed items.
And in all honesty I really despise grocery shopping.
I'd rather be doing a bajillion other things.

So that's the plan. 
Shopping for two weeks worth of food.

Next I set my food budget.
I've tried whittling it down...I've tried raising it up.
I think I've finally found a good dollar amount that makes it doable for our family.
I try and spend no more than $110 a week on just food.
This is a comfortable amount for our family.

Now here's the deal.
This may seem like a large budget to you.
Or it may seem like a small budget.
I don't know.

What I do know is when setting your food budget don't base it off of what others are spending.
Base it off of your own families needs.
Do you have a small family? 
Then maybe you can spend less.
Do you have big eaters?
Then you might need to budget a bit more.
Make it doable for your family.
You want to be able to stick to your budget.
Not become discouraged every time you go grocery shopping and go way over.
Trust me.
I would always leave feeling discouraged that I couldn't get my groceries to be $80 a week.
It just wasn't realistic for my family.
I could spend $80 but then at the end of the week be in need of a few more meals.
Set your budget.

The next thing you're going to do is...

I take pretty much everything out of it and set it all on my kitchen table.

I write down everything that was in my pantry.

Then on the same piece of paper to the right I write down the days that I will be needing meals.
This is where it turns into a game :)
I try and use almost all of the ingredients that I have in my pantry in the upcoming two weeks meals.
So see...I crossed off Bean with Bacon soup and added it to my Tuesday menu.
Shop your pantry!

Here is what I came up with for my next two weeks worth of dinners.
I don't have it written down but each dinner will be served with either a garden salad or veggie of some sort.

Now that my meal plan is made it's time to start making the grocery list.
I have learned that in order to fly through my groceries it helps to have my shopping list categorized.
I spend less time buzzing all over the store after forgotten items.
And I never have to repeat going back to an aisle anymore.
Do it the way that works best for you.
Here's what I typically write....
Cereal Aisle

I start at the top of my meal plan.
Bean with Bacon Soup with Grilled Cheese.
I already have the soup and cheese.
So I add bread under breads.
And butter under dairy.
Then I move to the next meal on our list and do the same thing.

The last step that I take is to price each item on my list.
I typically tend to price just a tad bit over which is fine!
Better overestimate than to underestimate.
Once everything is priced I total it all up.
There are several reasons I do this.
The main reason is so that it gives me a good idea of what I will be spending.
If it looks like I might be cutting it close to my budget I might swap a few of the more
expensive meals out for something a bit cheaper.
Like spaghetti :)
I also do it as an incentive to stick to buying exactly what is on my list and nothing more.
If I think there's a chance I can save $20 of my grocery money I'm more apt to stick to my grocery list.

The amount I totalled up this time was $183.
I ended up spending $191.
So I was close!

That leaves me with $29.
Which is perfect.
I try to save at least $20 for the end of the two weeks.
We sometimes need another gallon of milk, bread or some more fresh fruits and veggies.

So that's it.
I'm sure I'm missing something.
If you have any questions or even advice I'd love to hear it!
How do you go about your grocery shopping?!
What works best for your family?!


  1. What a brilliant idea! I do something similar, buying all things that don't go off e.g. pasta, milk,meat etc in one big shop every couple of weeks and then 'top up' as needed. Your list in order for the supermarket makes total sense as I'm always flapping back and forward doing this. I'm going to hav a go at doing this menu and then shopping online and having things delivered si I won't be tempted to overspend when I'm there.

    My tip: if you get below your budget, you could put it in a special pot for family 'treat night', perhaps you could use it to go to the movies/ bowling etc, thus giving every one a reason to stick to it.

    Thanks for a great post.Rx


    1. I love the idea of a special pot!!! I've been doing very similar and setting it aside for a little getaway Travis and I are taking this summer. But after that I am for sure going to do this!

  2. Wow, thanks so much for sharing. This seems like a really efficient and effective system - I plan on trying it for myself this week!
    K x

  3. Ashley, this is a WONDERFUL post. Thanks for your insight and for letting us all in on it.

    PS - I love your new header and blog design. It's fabulous.

  4. great post!! i do the exact same thing for my meal planning and organizing, BUT shopping my pantry-that's so smart!! i need to start doing that to use up and clear out all of the pantry items so they don't sit in there forever. thanks!

  5. This is awesome!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    The only other thing I do, besides go every week, is shop the stores sale add. I try to plan several meals based on what is on sale. If chicken breasts are super cheap, I add it to my meals.
    I also go to Costco once a month and spend around 100.00 on paper goods, ground beef I split up into baggies, shredded cheese also split up, and fruit...we love their fruit!!
    I might have to try two weeks...wonder if we could make it??!
    Have a wonderful week!

    1. Good idea on shopping the sales! I'm writing this little tidbit down for my next two weeks. I rarely get flyers for grocery shopping anymore. Plus I only shop Walmart. But does anyone know...don't they match prices? Or am I wrong on that?
      And great idea on your ground beef and cheese... I have a post on that very thing coming up in the next few weeks ;)

    2. Yes Walmart does price match if you know the local prices. It might be harder in a smaller town though. And they don't do B1G1 just sale prices. I try to stock up on B1G1 when my favorite grocery store has things we use a lot.

  6. You're so grown up now :) I'm impressed dear friend. Going to be a little vulnerable over on my blog and share how we've survived the past 8 months. Love your system. I do the same, only weekly because we are paid weekly. Makes more trips to the dreaded store, but works money wise. Love you!

  7. I have been doing a similar system... I tried so hard to be a coupon-er but it stressed me out and took up so much time that I gave up! Glad to hear I'm not the only one :) I like Rachel's idea about putting leftover grocery money in a "fun fund". I always use it all up but it would be a great incentive to go under budget!!

  8. HOLY COW! This is brilliant! I am so doing this! Because right now, i THINK I need to go to the grocery, but really, the pantry is full...so I"m going to get creative and shop my pantry! BRILLIANT FRIEND, BRILLIANT!

  9. This is almost exactly how my mom did her grocery shopping when I was growing up and it's how I do mine. I didn't realize how many people shop every few days or every week until I started getting a lot of weird looks & comments for having such a full cart every couple of weeks :)

  10. Great, great post! Thanks for sharing this! I just switched to every-two-weeks grocery shopping/meal planning and I love it! But I was missing the "shop your pantry first" part - thanks!

  11. This is such great advice girl! I never thought if shopping my own pantry first!! DUH! Love this series!! XOXO!!

  12. This is very similar to what I do too! I plan my meals around what I have in the freezer and pantry and make my meal plan for two weeks. The only thing I do a bit differently is I categorize my shopping list by aisles in the store. :)

    1. I love the idea of categorizing for aisles :)
      Might have to try that next time!

  13. Oh yeah... I forgot! If I have any money left at the end of the two weeks I spend it on stocking up on things I know we use a lot and freezing or storing them.

  14. This is great! I do my 2 week shopping very similar to this. I actually started doing the 2 week meal plan because I was inspired by a post of yours from a while back. This system works great for my family and keeps me organized and on a budget. I love the "shop your pantry" idea. Thanks!!!

  15. Brilliant and makes total sense... my husband will say THANK YOU!!!

  16. This is very very similar to what I do - I try to keep a running list of what I have on hand and build a menu from that before I go shopping! I love that you have it organized by section and have it prices. That is really smart - I should start keeping track of how much things cost so I can do this in the future!

  17. this is excellent!!! and i also really like your handwriting. so that is a big plus. : ) i went to the grocery store yesterday without a list (my kids were sick all weekend, we were out of everything and i was behind!!!) and gasped when i saw the total. meal planning and list making is a life saver. i'm going to adapt your pantry shopping idea as well. i'm not good at using up everything. thank you, sweets!

  18. girl. this is for real so inspiring to me. Ive needed a system for years but always get o discouraged bc i cant seem to ever stick to it. and im TOTALLY gonna shop my pantry. TODAY. :) thanks for sharing this girl, it seriously was something i needed to read!! :)

  19. Thanks for your inspiring post! Great organizing and saving tips for grocery shopping on a budget! Thank you! :)

  20. I need to follow suit! Such a brillant idea!

  21. This is a GREAT post! I love seeing how other people stick to a plan when grocery shopping. That's the hardest thing for me. Do you ever use coupons? That's about the only thing that can save us a little extra cash because I'm a horrible planner. Ha.

    1. Nope...I don't use coupons. I honestly don't have a very good excuse except for the fact that I hate having to look for them and then I always forget to use them. Plus it all is so confusing to me. See...terrible excuses ;)

  22. "Shop your pantry..."...I LOVE this! I always look at my "canned goods" shelf with a blank stare, plus, I can't see all the stuff in the back! I am totally going to pull everything out and plan meals around that stuff! Thanks for the motivation!

  23. Genius! I love seeing exactly how you did it! I used to estimate costs and that really helped me stay on budget....gotta get back to doing that! Thanks for the insight friend!

  24. I have been doing the same thing... every other month a group of us do freezer meals and the other months this is what I do. I am in a rut of thinking about meals to eat. Where are you getting yours?

    1. I've been going through my recipe books and also just making what I know my family loves! I'll do a post in the next few weeks with some of my go-to recipes!

  25. I love your system. I'm going to try it on my grocery store run tomorrow. By the way, a week or so ago you said how much your family enjoys the world market frozen pizzas from Wal-mart. Tried it last week and I must say we are now fans. Thanks for recommending it!

  26. Love you even more than I thought I could've. I shop my pantry and have done all the past things and come up with a system almost identical to yours. Of course, you are way more organized about it and have encourage me to change a few things and work this system out even more. THANKS FOR SHARING! So helpful

  27. Im new to reading your blog, and this post opened up my eyes. I go to the store almost everyday because I dont make plans. I will try your method but maybe start with a 1 wk plan first. What my problem I think is I feel the veggies and fruits goes bad after about a week. Also I look forward to recipes that are quick, easy and cheap! Those would really help. My family eat quite a bit of meat and so far I cut down on groceries by buying meat on sale and freezing them by portions. Thanks alot again for this great post.

  28. Thanks for sharing! You have motivated me to start meal planning again! BTW, I LOVE your handwriting!

  29. Ashley, I do my grocery shopping the exact same way...2 Weeks at a time, organized by category by down to writing the estimated price by each item :) When we homeschooled and the kids got older, I would give then each $10 to buy mom approved snacks. They loved it because they learned how to make their money go as far as possible and they didn't drive me nuts asking for things!

  30. I love this idea--don't know why I didn't think of it--especially after finding a box of popcorn in the back of the cabinet that was 2 years out of date!!

    Here is a cost-saver for bacon-lovers: We love bacon, but hate paying the price for it. So, we buy SPAM (now, don't stop reading)--check out the SPAM site to see what is in it--Ham, pork shoulder, potato starch, sodium chloride (salt), water & a little bit of nitrite and sugar. So except for the potato starch, water and pork shoulder--it's the same thing as bacon without all the fat! We cut it very thin then fry it in a pan without any extra fat until it is crispy. So good! and it lasts longer than a package of bacon. The fried pieces can also be cut up and put on your salads and many other items where you would use bacon bits!