May 7, 2009

Grocery Shopping

Did you wake up this morning thinking, "I wonder how often Janssen grocery shops?" I thought so.

You know how, on occasion, you make some small-ish change to your life ("I'll start getting up 10 minutes earlier and eating breakfast" or "I will clear off the kitchen table every night before I go to bed") and it, no joke, changes your entire life and you want to tell everyone about it until they start shaking you by the shoulders and saying, "It's just breakfast! You are ranting on about a bowl of cereal. Pull yourself together, woman!" Hmm, maybe it's just me.

My life, this year, has been revolutionized by a new system of grocery shopping. Here was the old system:
  1. Go to the grocery store as infrequently as possible. Every ten days is good. Every two weeks is better.
  2. Pretend not to notice that the milk has gone bad and that all the vegetables and fruits are shriveled little sad things in the bottom of your drawers. Also ignore the fact that you have basically no food the last few days before you break down and go to the store.
  3. Cringe when the total at the check-out counter came to more than your budget because, well, you had to buy everything every single time.
This was a top-notch system, as I'm sure you can tell. Bart, I think, particularly liked it, especially the part where I would say, "this old almost-expired yogurt is surely enough lunch for you. See you at ten p.m. tonight after class!"

I especially liked the part where I felt guilty when I didn't go to the grocery store and there was no food and guilty when I did go to the grocery store and spent more than I wanted to. Oh yes, it was a win-win.

Which brings me to Operation Grocery Shop 2009. (Of course it has a title. . .what kind of new project doesn't? Fine. I just made it up this minute).
  1. I will grocery shop every single week (Saturdays (or Mondays if we're out of town))
  2. I will not spend more than $50 per shopping trip
  3. I will have food for five dinners a week, plus breakfasts and lunches every day
Ta-da. Easy.

The benefits are many.
  1. If I notice we're out of something, it doesn't matter. I can always wait five or six days to replenish it. Bart doesn't have to worry that when I say, "oh, I'll pick it up next time I'm at the store" that might mean that sometime after the birth of his fourth child we'll once again have ziplock bags.
  2. I know what's in my fridge and can plan meals based on what I have left over (pineapple left over from this last week? Guess it's time to make this).
  3. When things are on sale, I actually have money to buy them and not feel guilty (this is vair bad news for my freezer which is stuffed to the rafters).
  4. I actually stay within my budget (well within it, actually - lately, I've been spending more like $40 a week).
  5. It has really made me want to cook again - I've been tagging more recipes in my Delicious file and checking out more cooking magazines from the library.
  6. If we have some event coming up (dinner with friends, a birthday, a camping trip), I almost always know well-enough in advance to add the ingredients to my shopping list, which means it just goes in as part of the weekly budget, instead of requiring an extra trip (and money) to the store.
Okay, okay, you can shake me by the shoulders now and tell me, "It's just grocery shopping, Janssen! Pull yourself together."


  1. You know I am all about a system for groceries/kitchen procedures, so bravo! I am amazed that you spend so little every week.

  2. oh I love grocery shopping! I probably should create a system, because I don't have anything close to one! I buy what looks fun and spend more than I should :)

  3. I hope this works out for you because then I will have hope for myself! My current system sounds a lot like your every two weeks plan...

  4. I actually like the 2 week system. It forces you to dig into the fridge and freezer and use things that otherwise goes unused and gets thrown out eventually. I spend a bit more at the store every other week, but by the end of the month it's less than weekly visits.

  5. So we are a once a week shopping family. I make weekly meal plan, figure out the ingredients, and then shop for those ingredients plus needed staples that I have run out on.

    However, I am really, really surprised by how little you spend. It makes me wonder 1)if we just eat more than you and Bart, 2) our prices are higher than where you live, 3) We are inefficient in our system.

    Any way I can persuade you to post a typical weekly grocery list? ;)

  6. I have a similar system. It works, but I dread going to the store every Saturday. But the system pretty much works. :)

  7. Um, that first system? Describes me. Also with the feelings of guilt about going and not going grocery shopping.

    Should really try your new system.

  8. it odd for me to say that yes, actually, I do wonder how Janssen goes grocery shopping. Because, um, I do.

    I'm just getting into your new system, after 4 weeks of no new milk and eating out of cans, it is time. :o)


  9. Huh. We're currently doing the first way, and it's working about as well as it was for you.
    I want to know how you get all those meals for under $40 a week! That's the part I need to know about. So I can steal your plan and make it my own, obvs.

  10. $40 a week?!
    I worship you, goddess of provident shopping.
    (Let me know how much that amount increases when you have teenage boys in the house)

  11. I'm actually glad you blogged about this, as I plan to have to do this in the year or so!

  12. We, unfortunately, follow the first system! Especially with the price of groceries in NYC we feel a little "damned if you do, damned if you don't." We're always out of food and when we buy it I had how much we spend. Just can't win.

    Tell me how you're spending so little on groceries and still cooking?? What are you buying/cooking?

  13. Ok, fine. I'll make a grocery budget. Going to the store every day or every other day lately, because I don't want to plan, isn't working out so great. I have never had a budget before, but I am not extravagant, and I don't buy hardly anything if it's not on sale. But, it would be wise for me to learn to plan and budget for our food. At least that would be a good start to plan and shop weekly :)

    Nicely done.

  14. no but really grocery shopping can get old and so I always take my husband with me to spice it up :o) we put together a little shopping/meal routine that you can check out here
    Good luck and don't give up!

  15. i am on the first plan...and i hate it! and, i don't think i could ever only spend $40 on food for a week. please, tell me your secret...

  16. Random note: After I read your blog, I took a nap and totally dreamed about grocery shopping.

  17. I love it! I may try this myself (only with a smaller budget as it's just me)

  18. yeah- I follow the comments that I wanna know what you are eating.. can you post your grocery list and meal plans..??

    5 meals, with breakfast, lunch and snacks... under $50 that is amazing to me! I NEED to know what I am doing wrong!

  19. I can completely relate to the idea of making some small change in your life and your so excited about it!

    Baby steps-right!

    Grocerey shopping this storage the next (jk)- I was trying to think of something and thats what came out!

  20. Ok, hmmm... but HOW? I am a struggling shopper when it comes to staying within my budget. I dream about only spending $50 a week. I know I should maybe do coupons or sales or something, but so far, I manage to go over my budget (even if it's only $5) every single week. Seriously. How do you do it? Maybe Jeremy just eats WAY more food than Bart. But probably not that much. This post needs a part 2....

  21. I still divide my list into squares because of you.

  22. Wow. I think I'm doing well when I go to the store every two/three days. I used to go every day, and I'd spend way more than I do now. Which is funny, because I'm eating more fruit and veggies (which of course cost more) but otherwise it's not like I'm skipping dinner because I'm too lazy to go to the store.

    Tell us more about your systems! I might implement some of them.

  23. Fifty dollars a week? I don't think you could do that here unless you lived on nothing but potatoes.

  24. That's a good idea! I keep thinking that I need to just shop for the week all at once. I feel like I make too many stops to the grocery store.
    Good for you for sticking to it! I think I just need more motivation...

  25. I NEVER would have pegged you as not a once-a-week-shopper. Good job on the new habit.

    We spend $150 a month on groceries. Of course, that is partly because my not getting home until nearly 8 every night has caused me to practically cease cooking. Seriously. I cooked dinner Monday night, and I did not cook again until tonight. I aim for like four meals a week.

  26. Love this new plan! The soft taco recipe looks yummy! Do you have a farmer's market in your area-that is always a fun shopping time! Did this new plan come at the same time as finishing your paper/graduating?? Just curious?

  27. We usually go weekly too, but we spend a lot more. Our cheapest trips are actually the ones where Mike goes alone to do it.

    Tell me more about dividing your list into squares?


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