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Once-a-Month Grocery Shopping and Cooking
Since we’ve had kids, my wife has become much more cognizant of what we all eat on a daily basis. We certainly eat much healthier now that when she was an internal medicine resident and didn’t have the time to regularly meal plan for us (let’s just say that I can certainly follow a recipe and do some cooking, but creatively planning a variety of meals is not my spiritual gift – "sure, tacos again…but they are so yummy!")
No, not one meal per month
Anyway, my wife recently got a copy of a book from Focus on the Family called Once-a-Month Cooking . The basic idea is that you spend one (loooong) day per month preparing your meals (and then go out to dinner that night!). The result is that you have a month’s worth of home cooked meals ready to reheat at any time. And though frozen, these are "real" frozen meals – not those frozen TV dinners with who knows how much sodium in each serving.
Well, my wife read this book and is sold on trying it. It actually makes a lot of sense from an efficiency standpoint. Think of all the meals you cook throughout the month – aren’t there some that are repeated? Some that have the same ingredients? Think of it in terms of economies of scale: If it takes you a certain amount of time to prepare, boil, and clean-up one pound of chicken, it will only take you a small increment more time to do two pounds if you do them at the same time.
The book is actually quite exhaustive in that it lays out an entire month’s worth of meals complete with the exact shopping list for everything! Then it shows exactly how to prepare everything including the order to do each step to maximize those economies of scale. I’m not sure if this will save any money, but she and I are just so excited for the potential time savings.
But wait, there’s more!
So I was sitting around the other day looking through a copy of an old Economides newsletter (you know – America’s Cheapest Family ) and what do I read there? Well, I read that they spend $350 per month on groceries and household goods. And I read that one of their strategies is to shop only one day per month! So, you see where this is going, right? This dovetails perfectly and now I’m really excited – if we are going to cook only one day per month, maybe we should only shop one day per month as well!
So, we have this huge shopping list prepared and we are gearing up to put this into practice for the first time this weekend. I’m not actually concerned about saving money, but I really, really would like to realize some time savings. If you’re only at the grocery store once a month, think of all the "quick trips" (that actually take at least 40 minutes) that will be eliminated (saving time) and all the impulse buys as well (saving money).
So, it is going to be pretty crazy to buy a month’s worth of food and paper goods in one shopping trip. Actually, we are planning a trip to Sam’s Club to try out their Click’n’Pull deal for the first time and then we’ll hit a regular grocery store for the remainder of the list. But I’m anticipating having to fold down the back seat in the minivan to fit all these groceries in there. Certainly, you have to have room to store all of the food too…that might be a bit iffy for us. We do have a big freezer out in the garage, though, which does seem like a necessity to implement this plan.
And then there’s the bill. It’s not going to be cheap. But, if it works out right, at least this will be the only trip this month.
Like I said, we are putting it into practice this weekend. We’ll be shopping Friday and cooking Saturday. I will let you know how this goes. Of course, it might not look so pretty on Saturday evening, but I’m hoping that three Saturdays from now, after no more trips to the store and yummy meals each night with no real "cooking," that it will have been well worth it.
Has anyone tried either or both of these before? If so, did it work? Do you have any suggestions/comments/warnings?Photo Credits: Mykl Roventine