Knock out your weekly large family grocery shopping trip with these time and energy saving tips! Plus, get a free printable of our basic shopping list to feed a family of 11!
I used to grocery shop once a month, but now that I have more kids with bigger appetites (and we live less than a mile from our local Aldi!), I no longer shop this way. I now prefer to shop weekly. It gives me plenty of flexibility to plan meals and stay on budget, plus it satisfies my need to feed my family more fresh produce, something I did not do much of when we were shopping once a month.
See how much my kids love the weekly shopping trip…
Weekly Large Family Menu Plan
The backbone of any grocery shopping trip is your menu plan. While a weekly menu plan allows you greater flexibility, there is one big con you need to take into account.
CON: Weekly meal planning takes time.
If you are meal planning every single week, you may find yourself taking entirely too much time doing so. In fact, you may feel like you are always menu planning – especially if you are too caught up in the act of planning itself.
Here are my tips for minimizing the time it takes to do your weekly meal planning:
1 – Create a Family Favorites Meal List. When you are short on time it is simple and convenient to have a meal list your family already loves at your fingertips! Learn how to put together a list of 30 meals your family loves!
2 – Stick to 1 resource for recipes. This is something I started doing years ago to ease the stress of keeping track of a bunch of recipes for the week. If you only cook out of 1 cookbook for the week or one Pinterest board or one blog, it makes things a lot easier!
3 – Create a rotating meal list. While this isn’t something my family enjoys, many families operate this way for ease of meal planning. Simply choose a rotating menu for each day of the week and keep the supplies you need for those rotating meals on hand, replenishing as needed during your weekly shopping trip.
4 – Use Evernote or something similar if a lot of your recipes are online. I have been meal planning using Evernote for years and years! It makes it very easy to link to recipes that are online, and then open the app and start cooking from any device anywhere! I can even send the meal plans to my daughters when it is their turn to cook!
See how I use Evernote to Menu Plan:
For our family the pros for weekly meal planning far outweigh the cons! For instance…
PRO: Weekly Meal Planning offers flexibility.
The upside of meal planning every week is knowing what your week has in store and then planning accordingly around things like outings, guests, and appointments. I will often add in these types of things right into my menu plan so I can see them at a quick glance.
PRO: New recipes!
Another pro to weekly meal planning is that you can try new recipes – something my family loves to do! It’s easier for me to add a new recipe in on a weekly basis rather than trying to add it in to a monthly rotation of recipes.
PRO: Meal plan from your pantry
Something I have found much easier to do with weekly meal planning is to use what I have in my pantry to plan the next week. As with any meal plan, you have days that go awry and meals that do not get used or items that do not get used in the quantity you expected. When you are planning weekly, you can use up those leftover goods in your next meal plan, something that is much harder to do when you are planning less often.
Ultimately, you need to weigh the pros and cons and decide if and how weekly meal planning fits in with your family’s lifestyle. You also have to figure out how to fit in a weekly grocery shop!
Weekly Grocery Shopping
Once you have a weekly meal planning system in place, you need to find a good rhythm for your weekly shopping trip. Here are a few things to ask yourself:
- How many stores am I willing to go to?
- How much time do I have to shop?
- What day is best for me to be out of the house?
- Do I have children who can help?
- Can my husband help?
And before you totally commit to once-a-week shopping, you need to consider the fact that for some families…
Weekly shopping might be more expensive.
The unfortunate side of weekly meal plans is the fact that you are in the store every single week. For some people, that can add up to a lot of extra money being spent if you aren’t good at sticking to your list and a budget.
If you are afraid you might be one of these people, try shopping every other week instead or shopping online and then picking up at the store or having the groceries delivered. This will keep you from impulse buying and spending more than you intended because you were wandering around the store.
However, if you are certain weekly shopping is for you, here are some tips to make it go smoothly…
1 – Order your grocery list. We use Google Keep for our grocery list (shared with my husband so we can both add to and shop from the list). It is very easy to move items around so you can order the list according to the store. (However, don’t ask my husband how good I am at doing this consistently. *sigh* He’s the genius behind our ordered list – not me.)
2 – Keep all of your shopping supplies in one place. This is particularly necessary if you shop Aldi. I have a quarter in each vehicle we own and the shopping bags go in the closet next to the garage door. Everything is grab-n-go so I can shop on autopilot.
3 – Have a shopping buddy (preferably a helpful one). While I sometimes take a toddler or preschooler with me for the weekly shopping trip, this isn’t my preferred method because it takes MUCH longer if I only take a little and no bigs. In my home, truly helpful doesn’t tend to happen until about age 8, so I avoid taking anyone younger than that without another “big” along to help. I also stopped taking EVERYONE to the store when I hit #5. It was just too difficult to maneuver aisles with that many kids hanging onto the cart. Try to correspond your weekly shopping trips with your husband’s day off so you don’t have to take everyone and can shop lickety-split!
4 – Shop your main store first. Aldi is my “main store.” If I can only manage to get the Aldi shop in, then I have knocked out the bulk majority of my shopping trip and can “make do” if I can’t make it to any other stores.
5 – Time and energy are worth something. When I was pregnant and only had small children, I shopped ONE store where I knew I could get everything I needed. Yes, it cost a bit more to do that, but it was necessary to my sanity. Your time and energy are worth something and if you are short on those two things, consider only shopping one store at a little extra cost to the budget until you are better able to handle more than one store.
In another post I’ll share our large family pantry and refrigerator organization. You can also watch this Large Family Refrigerator and Freezer Tour!
And as promised, here is our family’s weekly staples list to help you get started! These are the things we typically do not leave the store without, and always like to have on hand to make quick meals on the fly if needed.
Also, check out the Large Family Meal Planning page here on Raising Arrows for more help streamlining meals and shopping for a big family!