Becoming a Once-a-Month Grocery Shopper, Step One

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My goals for 2018Last week I shared with you my big goals for 2018.  {If you missed that post, you can check it out here.}

One of the goals I am most excited about is becoming a once-a-month grocery shopper.  This feels like a really daunting goal, especially after a day like today, when I am exhausted from meal planning and grocery shopping for just one week!  But it’s something I really want to try.  I might love it…I might hate it….I might end up somewhere between weekly shopping and monthly shopping.  I don’t know.  But I figured it was worth a shot to see if I could save some time, money, and sanity.

Since this IS such a daunting goal for me, I have broken it down into manageable short-term goals.  The goal that I have set for myself for January is to find a baseline of how much time and money I spend grocery shopping.  Although I keep pretty good track of our finances using a cash system, I am really not 100% sure because we also have “No Questions Asked” cash which is often used for quick trips to the grocery store here and there.  And I have never truly kept track of how much time I spend dealing with grocery-shopping-related tasks.

Here are the answers to some questions you might have and they are great questions to ask yourself if you want to give this a try!

What expenses will you track?  My cash budget for grocery shopping is not broken down by category, so diapers, pet food, personal care items, and so on are included in one big pot for the month.  Basically, if I buy it at the grocery store, it’s estimated for my budget.  Since that’s what my budget includes, that is what I am tracking this month – – anything I buy at the grocery store.  I am tracking my entire grocery store receipt, including impulse buys from the home department.

Are you keeping receipts?  I haven’t decided on this quite yet.  I have kept them so far, just in case I want to refer back to them for tracking reasons.

Are you tracking pre- or post-coupon?  Since sales and coupons can vary week-to-week and month-to-month, it is a fair question to think about whether you will track how much you spend without coupons.  Since I’m no longer an extreme couponer (although I still get the itch every once in a while), I don’t feel like my casual coupon use will impact my totals too much.  I wanted to get an idea of what my TYPICAL shopping looks like, so I am walking into the store and using coupons that I can easily find in the circular or store apps and I’m sure it all balances out.

Are you tracking what your spouse spends?  Absolutely!  We are in this together, so he’s keeping track of what he spends at the grocery store as well. In reality, he rarely goes to the store due to his long work hours, so it won’t be too hard to keep track of his spending.

What “grocery-shopping-related tasks” will you be timing?  Basically, I want to know how much time I put into grocery shopping, as well as the preparation (and….let’s face it….the recovery). In my grocery-shopping-related time totals, I am including meal planning/grocery-list writing, coupon app surfing, commuting, shopping, and putting away the groceries.  If I buy anything in bulk, I am also counting the time it takes me to get it packaged and frozen because that time will really increase when I switch to once-a-month grocery shopping.  You might not want to keep track of the same amount of things, so adjust your tracking accordingly.

Where are you going to keep track of all of this? I wanted this to be as simple as possible, so I just started a list in my planner.  I have that thing open on my kitchen counter almost all of the time, so it just made sense for me.  I jot down the time I leave for the store and then write down the time when I am finished putting groceries away (sometimes I just hurry and put the cold stuff away and then deal with the rest later.  I make sure to write down the time spent “later” as well).  Next to each trip to the store, I write down how much I spent.  I have already started this tracking for January, so here’s my chicken-scratched list:

Once-a-Month Grocery Shopping Baseline in Planner

That’s it.

Nothing fancy.  If I had a bullet journal, I would TOTALLY have a pretty page for this tracking sheet.  But I don’t.  So ‘ll just settle for pulling out my highlighter every once in a while.  You’ll notice that today I forgot to jot down the time when I left, so I just wrote down the total amount of time (which is my end goal, anyway.  I just don’t trust my memory, which is why I normally jot down the time I leave).  You might also notice that I still need to put away my groceries.  🙂

So, the word of the month is baseline.  Let’s figure out how much time and money we ACTUALLY spend at the grocery store.  Who’s with me??