Domestic Me

The Dreaded Once A Week Shopping Trip

I’ve enjoyed that – for the past several years – I have been able to hit the grocery store every day if needed. This has allowed me to really shop sales and to plan meals based on that day’s schedule combined with my mood. I always feel one of the perks of being The Cook in the family is getting to cook what YOU want. Also, when you use discounts like a Getupside promo code, you’d find that you can buy more items, which is great, especially if you’re the cook of the family. They aren’t there for no reason. And they can help you save quite a bit if you look in the right places. I know some people say you spend more on daily shopping, but not me. I hate doing BIG grocery trips because it’s a pain in the ass to carry in and I just don’t always know our schedule during the week so meal planning is difficult. I may have 5 minutes to cook dinner at 5:15 or I may have no time to cook but we’ll be home at 7 pm starving to death. Of course, when I worked from home I had plenty of time during the day for prep or monitoring of things in the crockpot, so that added flexibility I don’t have now. But if I was in the mood for Mexican that day? I’d run the 1 mile down to the store and get stuff for Mexican. Even when I worked in an office it was only 10 minutes from my house which still gave me time to head home, stop by Publix on the way, unload groceries, and get back to work before my lunch hour was up.

Now I work 40’ish minutes from home and 4 out of 5 nights this week I only have enough time after work and before soccer to let the dog out. I’ve tried some end-of-the-day grocery store trips, but I hate that because I want to be DONE with my day by 7:30 pm, not still needing to go grocery shopping. I still have housework to do when I get home so not getting home from my day of work/soccer until 7:30 stresses me out. Of course, some days I’ve realized we needed things by a certain time so I’ve had to run into Publix on the way home and grab that ONE THING because I don’t have time to grab anything else. Yesterday? I had to go to Publix TWICE. Once for the emergency Kitty Litter (I’m not used to paying attention to things I’m running out of because I go to the store every day) and once DURING soccer for real groceries. And that’s a pain because I had to go to Publix by the soccer fields which I hate, and I had to do it during soccer practice which I also hate because I can’t monitor how it’s going.

So, I’ve decided that on Saturday, I’m going to try the Full Week Shopping Trip.


This means trying to map out the full week’s schedule and predict what’s going on when so I can plan a meal that takes the right amount of time to cook. This means really paying attention to how much of things we go through so that we don’t run out of Kitty Litter on a day I don’t have time to stop until 8 pm. This means I have to plan for lunches and pre-soccer snacks and maybe some crockpot meals if my crockpot doesn’t go insane and cook on High all day instead of Low. I think I’ll still plan an “End Of The Day, Late Night” grocery trip to Publix every Wednesday so I can see the new week’s sales and have a mid-week day to pick up the stuff I might run out of. So, in reality, I’ll do one “BIG” trip on Saturdays and one “Refill” trip on Wednesdays and hopefully I’ll get a handle of shopping sales at Target and Publix on those days that way. I’m thinking of getting a Sun Basket family meal delivered a couple of times a week so I don’t have to worry about planning dinner every single day. I’m still looking at reviews like this MyFoodSubscriptions one to see if it’s for me. It should make my life a little easier.

UG. Just thinking about all of that grocery shopping in ONE trip makes me insane. I hate having so many bags that I can’t carry them in on one trip. It’s part of having 13 stairs to your front door. It makes you hate big grocery trips. I think what would make carrying my shopping to the front door easier is if I had my own tote bag. My friend has recently told me that you can customize your own tote bag which I think is a great idea as it will be personal to me. It may also be a great gift for someone who loves to shop.

So! Do you shop for 1.5 times per week? What’s your secret? I’m sure I won’t get it perfect the first week, but my hope is that I only have to hit the store these two times every week. Do I need to write down everything we’re going to eat and attack the list that way? Do I need to hire a strapping young man to help me lug in all the groceries? How much cereal to my kids actually eat one week at a time? How much beer do I need for a whole week?

26 thoughts on “The Dreaded Once A Week Shopping Trip”

  1. Oh Kim, feel your pain. While we do the giant shop each weekend, I often find I’m dropping by the store on my way home for either meat I forgot to thaw or veggies that will be fresh.

    In any event, has saved our family for years. Yours sounds as busy as ours, and it cloud syncs… It’s amazing. Check it out. Now if you’re thinking “that’s an online tool and I’m a devout Bullet Journal user!” So am I; it’s how I found you. 🙂
    It’s ok for this one piece to be online, promise!!

  2. I feel your pain too! I hate grocery shopping! But my family does enjoy eating, so I suck it up and do it. 🙂

    I do my BIG grocery shopping trip once a week on Mondays. I also hate the big trips for all the reasons you mentioned. We lived in a third floor apartment for a few months last year – AAHHH! I’d have to sit down and rest after getting all the groceries in.

    Anyway, I keep a running list of things as they get low or I think of anything I’ll need throughout the week on the side of the refrigerator. I’ve also trained the family to add things to the list as they use them up – toothpaste, pop tarts, etc. And I try to keep stocked on some easy meals – spaghetti, mac and cheese, frozen veggies – in case I need to change the menu plans.

    I also do a quick trip on Fridays to get anything we may need over the weekend to get us through the next big shopping trip. About once a month I make a trip to Costco to get the bulk items – mostly snack items like goldfish, granola bars.

    I try to sit down on Sunday evenings to look at coupons and make meal plans for the week based on our after school schedule. I admit this is much easier with teens who can drive and I’m not the taxi service for everything. When all three kids were in elementary school, I barely had time to breathe with the after school craziness.

  3. I’m a 3-4 times a week shopper, so no advice here, other than ask everyone in your family to pick a meal (that way they’re guaranteed to at least be happy one night/week!). I definitely think having your menu set for the week will make your life easier. Plan for leftovers, too.

    I know you don’t eat meat, but I can’t remember whether you cook it for everyone else? Can you cook a chicken at the beginning of the week (I have an awesome crockpot recipe for a roasting chicken) and make chicken salad/chicken pot pie/chicken soup for another night? I also grill a bunch of chicken breasts at the beginning of the week and then eat them in salads or quesadillas.

    Breakfast for dinner is always fun/fast – French toast or pancakes. Grilled cheese sandwiches (add ham or bacon or tomatoes to make them heartier).

    My older son is vegetarian, and I make a ton of roasted veggies and/or pasta salads with veggies at the beginning of the week and he reheats them. He loves veggie stir fry, too – if you have all of the veggies cut up ahead of time, you can throw a stir fry together while the rice cooks (do you have a rice cooker?).

  4. Once the kids got big enough (5-ish) I realized one of the perks of kids is they can be grocery minions! They aren’t allowed to carry milk or anything they can’t lift comfortably, but one bag at a time they can bring things in from the car. 🙂

  5. As someone who has to do a weekly trip and really TRY to meal plan, let me encourage you to double recipes and give yourself grace to plan sandwich dinners until your family figures out the normal. Doubling let’s you have quick leftovers on a other night and sandwiches are perfectly ok as a dinner! And maybe prep a salad bar the kids can make themselves and keep those leftovers in the fridge for another time (lunch prep) as well.

    Last night the plan was to make spaghetti but I didn’t have the sauce (it turns out we have a lot of salsa, not spaghetti sauce). So I tried a quick trip to the store and it almost wiped me out. So, I’m planning right now and a friend will take me shopping later.

  6. We do the once a week shopping, with usually 1-2 mid-week stops to pick up milk, bread, or to the butcher shop for fish (which I only eat if it was bought that day). I meal plan for the week and ask my two older kids and husband if there’s anything they’re craving for the week, which usually helps with at least a couple meals I don’t have to pick. We also have theme nights that we fall back on if we can’t think of anything else: Taco Tuesday and Wacky Wednesday (breakfast for dinner). Fridays are always homemade pizza and a movie, so that one is set each week, and I use leftover veggies or meats on the pizza for me and my husband.

    We also use the Cozi app so both my husband and I can add to the list throughout the week when we notice something is needed. You can also make multiple lists, so we usually have a groceries list, plus a Target list and a Sam’s list. I also use the Kroger app (it looks like Publix has one, too) to see what’s on sale for the week and add digital coupons. Y

  7. If you use a bunch of the same, non-perishable things all the time (like kitty litter), look into setting up regular deliveries with Amazon. We did this with diapers, and we still do it with dog food.

    One of the great things is they offer suggestions for how often you might want your order (like, it tells us “most people with this regular dog food order have it refilled once a month”) so we can gauge how often we may need it (and you can move/change your delivery frequency pretty easily as well).

  8. ASSVICE ALERT!! I only say this because sometimes it does not occur to people, but I realize I don’t know your life and I have absolutely no, no, no judgement for how people manage things in their own families. Could it possibly be time to re-evaluate the division of household responsibilities between the adults in your home? Maybe it made sense for you to be the cleaning/cooking/grocery shopper when you were working from home, but now that you have essentially lost 1.5 hours a day to a commute, maybe things need to shift around? Again, I don’t really know anything about said division of labor and different things work differently for different families and, and, and….*slinks away*

  9. Weekly shopping and meal planning was the only 2014 resolution I actually completed. And I have loved the habit. I have grown to despise the grocery store with two kiddos, that’s why going only once a week is essential. I keep a running list on the fridge. Everyone knows “if it’s not in the list, it doesn’t get bought.” So both Chris and I add to it throughout the week. I meal plan on Sunday nights and write it in a calendar that I keep on the fridge. I shop on Monday or Tuesday depending on what works best for our schedule. I pick recipes from Pinterest and sometimes refer back to my monthly meal calendars for ideas. Best help I’ve had for carrying the boat-load of groceries are the reusable bags. They allow you to hold a tin without having handles break and hey, you’re saving a water plastic bag. Good luck with the new scheduling!

  10. We use The Fresh 20, which does your meal planning for you, creates a shopping list, and details any prep work. Usually it’s just 20 minutes of prep that you do the night before so that when you cook the next day it’s mostly a matter of throwing things together. Most meals are ready within 30 minutes, some much shorter. It’s pretty fabulous. We spend about $75-90/week on groceries for those dinners. (Meaning five nights of dinners for a family of four.)

    Of course, I have to have back-up stuff for nights when meal cooking just isn’t going to happen. So there is that. But mostly The Fresh 20 has been a big lifesaver for us. (They have a vegetarian option, too! And all the food is yummy!)

    Good luck and best wishes to you as you get into the groove of things. I know it isn’t easy!!

  11. This was essentially what I was going to say. Our division of labor has changed many times through the years including just recently as my work situation changed.

  12. I do BIG shopping every 2 weeks or so, and small trips in between for produce/milk/stuff we ran out of/stuff I forgot on the big trip. And yes, every 2 weeks means big is BIG!! It takes me almost 2 hours and I use all 10 of my reusable Target bags, plus a plastic or two for meat.

    I plan the week every Sunday morning – I keep a magnetic week at a glance calendar on my fridge, and it’s where I keep all upcoming appointments, practices, games, etc. There’s also a notes section where I keep a running list of stuff we need/are out of. After I’ve plotted out all the places we need to be and when, I figure out what meals I can make on what day. Then I make my grocery list. The actual shopping usually gets done on Wednesday evening, the one night I almost never have to shuttle a kid anywhere.

    And the freezer is my best friend. I buy meat on big shopping day and just freeze what I’m not using in the next day or two. And if it’s on sale, I buy extra. Since my meal plan is on the fridge, I can easily see what and when I need to pull something out to thaw in the fridge a day or two ahead.

    I also love making big batches and freezing things in individual portion sizes. Most Sundays we don’t usually have a game or practice, so I can make two or three meals throughout the day, portion them out, and freeze. They’re super easy lunches to grab in the morning, or for those evenings that there just isn’t time to do much more than microwave.

  13. have you looked into “blue apron”? or something similar? seems like something that could be a great help to y’all…and makes financial and health-related sense. especially since y’all have a MUCH larger selection to choose from then us since you eat so many veggies, etc. that we don’t so it limits the options we have to choose from.

  14. We are primarily once a week shoppers (Saturday) unless we need to stop on Tuesday or Wednesday for more produce. I feel your pain as we live in a third floor apartment and try to carry as many bags as possible inside in one trip. One of us typically still has to grab some straggling items out of the car, though.

  15. This was so interesting to me because even though we have a grocery store 5-10 min away I hate doing mid-week grocery stops. I finally started meal planning and that is what works for me. We also have a very dependable weeknight schedule so I know ahead of time if I have a meeting or my husband has to work late and our son isn’t in any sports yet. (I also have the luxury of working out during my lunch hour.)

    I saved all of our family favorite meals in one binder and each Friday after dinner, I figure out what we will eat the next week. My husband brings leftovers for lunch so I take that into account too with portions. Then with the recipes in front of me, I go through the fridge, freezer, and pantry and make a list of what we need to buy. Any incidentals get added to the list too. Then it’s one visit to the store on the weekend and I’m set for the week.

    I keep a 8×10 magnetic whiteboard on the fridge that lists out our whole week…what my husband is bringing for lunch each day, what we are eating for dinner each night, what I need to prep for dinner, and any meetings/notes for the week. With a quick glance, we all know what to expect for the week. (We also keep a few frozen meals and frozen/canned veggies and instant noodles for those nights I can’t deal with cooking or if something unexpected came up. We also keep frozen single serve entrees for those days when there wasn’t enough leftovers for my husband’s lunch.)

    We do a monthly/month and a half visit to Costco for meat, milk, and household stuff since we are fortunate to have the space to store bulk purchases. I especially love having a second fridge in the garage so I can buy a bunch of meat at a time and freeze it. It does mean I need to plan out when to thaw meat for a meal but I just put a reminder on the meal whiteboard. I live and die by that whiteboard!

  16. Becky, we are clearly meal planning soul mates! I also use a whiteboard on the fridge to manage everything and am a huge fan of freezing stuff.

  17. Have you considered doing Amazon Fresh? A lot of my neighbors use it and you can actually order things the night before to have delivered in the morning (not all things but some). You can submit an order as often as you want and it just gets delivered up your stairs to your house. They also have recipes you can use and will fill in your shopping list based on those recipes. We’ve been tempted to try it. The upfront costs look spendy (I think it’s $300 but includes Prime?), but if you average it out per week for delivery groceries, it’s only $6 a week, or if you exclude the Prime cost, it’s less than $4). Not bad!

    As fro us, we are once a week shoppers because of our work schedules. It means maintaining a good list as things run out and having go-tos on hand that you don’t necessarily eat every week but are available (like a jar of marinara/spaghetti). So you can plan the meals but also have multiple go-tos to choose from. I also use Blue Apron every other week to mix things up and keep us from getting bored. Plus they do the planning and shopping for you.

  18. I have to echo the other once-a-week shoppers. I go through the ads and what’s in my fridge on Sunday morning. The fact that I go through my fridge and list what I didn’t use, really saves on throwing out food. I work in OneNote to fill in a menu plan using a list of items that are on sale that week or I need to use up.
    I plan 4 meals for 4 people, we eat out once, left overs/lunch/breakfast the other days. (My kids fight over the leftovers if they were meals they loved) I don’t plan what days to eat what meals, I let my mood or time available make my decision. I also have a well stocked pantry/freezer, so I can go completely off track, and then Sunday planning sets all back to square one. Sometimes I’m full of great ideas for a menu, sometimes I have no inspiration, but once its done I feel like I am ready for Monday.
    I do all my shopping Monday a.m., which I know is a luxury for some, and sometimes its one store in 20 minutes, and sometimes it’s 5 stores over 15 miles and 4 hours. Costco and Trader Joe’s about once a month. I guess it helps that I really do like to shop, although I agree, putting it all away-not so much.

  19. So, I’m thinking this won’t work with your running schedule, but what worked best for me when I had a tight schedule was weekend cooking. Over the course of the weekend I would cook several foods that re-heat well. (Think collards, slow-cooked green beans, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce or hey your recent crockpot meals.). Then, meals on busy days were more a matter of re-heating or cooking one quick thing to go with what was already made.

  20. I am a meal planner and once-a-week big shopper. This is partly because I hate shopping, partly because it is a 45-minute drive to the organic/local/awesome store, and partly because I think it helps me eat better.

    I don’t plan out each day, but figure out 7 breakfasts/lunches/dinners/etc. I usually plan meals without looking at sales – we talk about what we want and I look in the pantry/fridge to use up items. Then I check the sale ads and decide which store(s) I’m going to shop and if there are additional items on sale that can be adapted to my meal plan or saved/frozen for a later date.

    I do meal prep on Saturdays where I cook 1/2-3/4 of the food we plan to eat that week. I try to have one crock pot meal a week. With lots of food just needing re-heating, it’s pretty easy to figure out which days we have the time/energy for cooking the other items. I also make huge batches of at least one meal and freeze leftovers on Saturday. Those go into rotation on busy weeks or weeks I’m trying to save grocery money.

  21. We now live 20+ minutes from the nearest grocery store, so I have to shop once a week. Here’s what Ive learned:
    -almost every shopping trip can be carried in one load. Shouting “beast mode” at myself helps 🙂
    – I sketch out my week in my bullet journal (life changing, thank you!) and that helps me figure out all the meals I need. Like thursday nights, I knew we had to eat in the car between working out and dance, so I always had macaroni/cheese/peas for those nights. It also helps me remember not to plan elaborate meals on those nights.
    -I always keep a meal or two on hand that I can make out of pantry staples (breakfast for dinner/pasta with jarred sauce and frozen spinach)
    -knowing that I can’t just pop in to the store has made me real creative. My kids may have had peanut butter sandwiches made with leftover pancakes when I ran out of bread!

  22. I try and grocery shop once every ten days or so. The last trip both kids (4,1) wanted to sit in the cart, so I pushed one, pulled one, and filled both up. (Getting the younger into the carseat is a pain, so I’d prefer one huge trip and 18 trips into the house vs putting her into the carseat 5 extra times). I sorta have a vague plan of meals and generally stock up on stuff when it starts to get low. I also stuff the bottom of the carts with beer. (So, I have half a bottle of ketchup left and I buy another one, so we never run out. I have tendencies towards hoarding though.)

  23. Totally agree on the reusable bags. Makes a huge difference because I can sling them over each shoulder in addition to holding a bunch in my hands.

  24. I absolutely LOVE Amazon Fresh, but they only deliver in a limited area thus far: Seattle, LA & Bay Area. Kim is out of luck for that.

  25. Late so you probably won’t see this but!

    We do once every 2 weeks for meats and freezable stuff. Once a week for salad stuff. We have a salad every day, either a big salad main course or a small salad side course.

    Once a week, based on the meats, for meals. I do a lot of crockpot, so I get the filler then. Leftovers are awesome. So one night, roast beef from the crock, next sandwich day, next “hash” day ( rest of RB with onions, peppers, etc served over rice).

    I don’t have kids but I’m a godmother. So when the kids come over we do english muffin pizza. The fixin’s are easy and the kids do their own.

    Know you’re a vegan-(ish) person so can’t advise on that. Rice and beans are my vegan go tos. I expect that would grow old quickly.

  26. One of my kids favourite meals when they were younger was my “taco spaghetti”. It used salsa, taco spice, black and/or kidney beans, frozen corn, and whatever else I decided to put in. Top with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

    I guess my point is…next time use the salsa ????

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