Various Approaches to Easier Meal Planning, Part Two: The Budget-Friendly Method -- Complete with a Grocery List!

After various (failed) experiments as detailed at and , I thought I should combine ideas that are easy both on your energy and your budget. Once again, it is more to do with grocery shopping than actual meal planning. As usual, this is very idiosyncratic...and possibly very boring to somebody else!

from the 1930s:

Once a month (for a total of 3 shopping trips)
(note there's a general shopping list at the end of this that summarizes these ideas)
1. Have a Fill Your Freezer (etc) day featuring the least expensive (probably very seasonal) foods. (Plan at .) For that, in this area I need Whole Foods, in order to source safe and "humane" nonvegetarian ingredients (my closer favorite grocery store, Natural Foods, doesn't carry things like whole chickens). My favorite recipe plans for that at the moment are in Jamie Oliver's Save with Jamie. Try to make enough to help you skip one week of shopping this month.

2. Another week, load up on food from Natural Grocers, my by-far most budget-friendly shop in this area. Try making a master list based on ideas from the budget post, in which one doubles up with nutrient-rich foods, etc. Try to get enough from here that you can skip one week of shopping this month. However, if I must go shopping again this month, this would be where I would go.
   If you can swing it, do get one premade meal from here for this month, to reward yourself for your hard work, or maybe just one side dish or something else that appeals to you. In fact, there are a couple things I often get here whose raw ingredients cost more than the made dish they offer...and that made dish is ever so delicious!

3. Another week, pick up the staples and anything else required at the nearby grocery store that carries the olive oil, etc. we like and at lower prices than a gourmet shop. However, unfortunately I need to get as little as possible here, as their prices have gone 'way up and their freshness 'way down...but on the other hand it saves on gas, as unlike everything else that's one to three hours away it's five minutes away.

Here is my latest general menu and grocery list, cobbled together for this site since I don't know how to offer PDFs....I decided to start with a very general list that does not specify the above types of shops, so I could be reminded of what I needed on hand in general an average of every 10 days, to re-check the pantry etc. before heading out to a shop (and to cross out what I do not need). (This includes a couple of my favorite made-up-for-my-own-notes abbreviations: IN = If Necessary; IP = If Possible.)

Automatic, as required
Continue to have delivered the budget-friendly foods as detailed at -- for me, that's all the pet food from and my coffee from; they have those items at half the price of anybody else in my area.

Only when required and have a deal/sale/coupon
As detailed in the first part of this meal planning series: Williams-Sonoma for spices etc., the local wine shop for sherry during its annual sale.