Monday, April 29, 2013

Once a month: May 2013

So for those of you who want meal ideas, and for my own future reference, I thought I would try to post my monthly meal plan and shopping list. I am not going to go all out like I did on the first once a month series because it's too draining. Groceries are not super exciting, and I am exhausted after a day spent shopping and prepping, but I am happy to report that dinner for the next five weeks is


done, done, done.


(It's a bit of a chicken parade this month. Oops) The number is for the number of meals of each.

Street Tacos (2)

Quesadillas (2)

Beer Can Chicken (for a crowd, 1)

Greek and Teriyaki Chicken (2 each)

Italian Chicken (2)

French Dip Sandwiches (2 preparations for 4 meals)

Grilled Sausages (3)

Gnocchi with Pesto (3)

Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts (2)

Hamburgers (3)

Pizza (4)

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage & Roasted red pepper
  • Bacon & onion
  • Spinach & Chicken Alfredo

Leftovers, one meal of each:


Holy yum chicken

Pasta and Sauce

If you are counting, that is 34 meals, or enough for 5 weeks. Excluding Mother's Day. I refuse to lift a finger or make a plan for Mother's Day.

The sides

  • Steamed veggies
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Various potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Rice
  • Couscous
  • Salads

I was really pressed for time this week, so I didn't plan as carefully as before, but I am getting the hang of this, so I felt comfortable winging it a little. I also decided to shop at Sam's club almost exclusively to see how it compared to shopping 2-3 stores for sales with coupons. I am happy to report that budget wise, it was nearly the same.

Shopping List


  • Strawberries
  • Garlic
  • Carrots, 3 lbs
  • Sweet peppers
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Avocados
  • Lettuce
  • Ginger
  • Potatoes
  • Kale
  • Bananas


  • Tortillas
  • Hoagie buns
  • French loafs
  • Hot dog buns
  • Hamburger buns


  • Beef roast, large
  • Chicken, two family packs
  • Whole chickens, 2
  • Hamburger, 1 family pack
  • Chicken and Spinach sausages
  • Bacon


  • 2% milk
  • Whole milk
  • Cheddar, largest bag of shredded
  • Mozzarella, ditto
  • Greek yogurt
  • Eggs


  • Steam veggies
  • Chicken salad
  • Sweet potato fries


  • Pesto
  • Fruit cups
  • Salsa
  • Beef broth


Some tips I thought I would pass along...

Carrots are cheap. Bulk carrots are cheaper. I picked up a 5 lb bag for $2.98, and the keep well in the fridge, so you can eat fresh carrots all month.

Corn tortillas are so so good. Yes, they are small, but they are cheap and keep for a long long time. We keep ours in the fridge and have never had them go bad. This 70 count package was $2.37!

If you find yourself buying a lot of shredded cheese, go for the big bag instead of many small bags. I bought two 8 lb bags, one mozzarella and one cheddar, for $11.50 each and froze half of each bag for later.

If you have a garden or even a sunny window, buy whole heads of lettuce. When you serve it, cut off the base and save it. You can actually re-grow the lettuce in your garden, and it is easier and quicker than growing it from seed. I plan to do just that with this fancy lettuce assortment.

Plan a variety of meals from one source of protein. In this case, chicken. That way you can prep one meat and split it amount different freezer bags. It saves a bunch of time.

When you get home, wash all of your fruit before putting it away. I soak mine in the sink with a splash of vinegar to kill any surface bacteria. Let it dry before you put it away. Eat soft fruits like strawberries and bananas early in the month and harder fruits like apples and pears later in the month.

I hardly ever buy sweets. I figure if I really want them I should make myself go through the effort of making them. Besides, the Personal assistant really loves to bake. We've also stopped eating cereal for the most part. I bake big batches of muffins when the bananas start to turn and freeze them, and we eat oatmeal, yogurt, French toast or pancakes the rest of the time. I figure I'm home so why not?

Lunches around here are a casual affair, fruits, cheeses, crackers, raw veggies, PB&J, buttered noodles, leftovers, whatever. I don't really plan for it I just keep our favorite pantry staples available. The Hubster plans his own lunches and this month requested frozen chicken salad and mini hoagie buns.

The Math

I spent $294.64, but that includes stock up items not included here like 20lbs of assorted sugar, Pam, and household items like laundry detergent. I cut some corners. The past few weeks have been nuts, and next week promises more of the same, so I bought things like yogurt and sweet potato fries to save a little time. In round numbers, the total for the above list was $230, or $46 per week.

It's good to know that even if I don't have time to plan, and don't feel like using coupons, and don't have time to scratch make every last thing, and don't want to run to multiple stores, I can still save money and eat well doing the once a month shopping thing.





  1. Very impressive, Jen! I'm going to give this a try. It's just me and 2.0 at home and I'm normally working 50-60 hours a week but I think I can scale this back a bit and still have success -- you have inspired me!

    1. A lot of the recipes I use are "family size" and I split them between 2 or three bags to make the portions right for us (2 adults and a toddler) so I definitely think you could scale it back to get the portions right for the two of you. I love that I can take a bag out of the freezer at night and let it thaw to grill or pop it in the crockpot frozen in the morning and have a cooked meal in the evening. Good luck and let us know how it goes!