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December's Grocery Shopping Plans for a Simpler Month

This post contains affiliate links.

Christmas Spritz Cookies The Prudent Homemaker 

 Spritz Cookies made with my grandmother's vintage cookie press. These are the fastest and simplest Christmas cookies I've ever made.


Can you imagine a December without shopping?

No food to buy.

No gifts to purchase.


The chance to stay home: making cookies and treats from items in your pantry, making meals from a well-stocked pantry and freezers, making gifts from items you already have on hand, making memories as a family as you sing Christmas carols together before bed every night of the month, playing board and card games as a family in the evenings instead of being out shopping (and picking up takeout because you don't have time to cook after work and shopping), watching Christmas movies as a family, etc.


BUT . . .

Maybe you still have presents left to buy.

Maybe you have groceries to purchase.

Christmas Bedpost The Prudent Homemaker


Could it be simpler, though? Could you avoid the time you spend shopping, standing in line, etc.? 


You could decide to shorten your Christmas list to what you've already purchased (and/or make any remaining gifts using what you have on hand in your kitchen or with any supplies you have).

You could order the last gifts on your list online and have them shipped to your door. (Amazon has a free trial of Prime if you want two-day shipping for free for the month, plus you can watch movies from home with it).

You could order groceries and have them delivered. (I've never tried this option, but many stores have free and/or discounted delivery options for the first time you place an order. I can see an extra appeal in this if you don't want to leave the house in inclement weather). 

You could limit your grocery shopping to just two stores for the month.

You could decide to eat what you have in the pantry and freezer and not go shopping.


I've decided to keep my December shopping as simple as possible. I still have many gifts to make and I am wanting to bake often, both of which require me to be at home.


I'm limiting my December grocery shopping to $40 at Sam's Club, which comes from a $25 gift card I earned on Swagbucks and a $15 gift card I received as a gift, and $25 out of pocket.

I looked through Sam's sales flyer and am purchasing two things that will each be $2.50 off in December. One is balsamic vinegar, a regular staple in my pantry. The other is Nutella, which I only buy in December when it goes on sale at Sam's Club. It's a large jar (26.5 ounces/751.26g) that comes in a two-pack, on sale $6.48 (that makes each jar $3.24, or $0.122 an ounce/$0.0043 gram.)

I'm planning on saving the time of walking around the store and standing in the checkout line by ordering everything online and having it ready for pickup. I've never done it before, but this service is free, so why not have a bit more time in my life? It certainly doesn't take very long to add it to my cart online. I'll have my husband pick it up on his way home from work, and he can fill up on gas (which is cheaper there) at the same time.


Sam's Club:

corn tortillas (110 count)

milk (1 gallon)

salted peanuts (52 ounces)

mozzarella cheese (5 pounds shredded)

balsamic vinegar (1 liter)

brown sugar (7-pound bag)

Nutella (2 26.5 o./75126g jars)


I'd like to purchase some clementines for both fresh eating and Christmas stockings, but that will depend on what sales are out there. I'm allotting $15 out of pocket towards clementines, if I find a sale right before Christmas of $1 a pound or less (there are sometimes coupons available for these, so I'll keep an eye out). If I don't see that price close to Christmas, I'll pass on purchasing these.

I'll spend $10 on dish soap for hand washing. I usually buy this at Walmart, but since I am planning to go to Target anyway this week to pick up a few small items for Christmas gifts, I will purchase this there. I want to keep my shopping trips (and standing-in-line-time) to a minimum.

Christmas Table Runner Detail The Prudent Homemaker


A few ideas to make your December a bit more peaceful:


Advent calendar activity ideas Simple things you can do this month to keep the spirit of Christmas.

Rethinking Christmas Stockings. A simpler, less expensive approach to filling stockings.

Seven Frugal Ways to Decorate for Christmas

A Gift a Day. My current and past year's simple, inexpensive gifts, often made from repurposed materials, that you can make in a day. I'll be sharing more gifts this month as I complete them.

My Food Gifts board on Pinterest

My Christmas Crafts for the Children board on Pinterest

Ten Ways to Add Joy to Your Life When You Don't Have a Penny to Spare. Don't let a super-tight financial month keep you from finding joy.

Gifts You Can Make Right Now in Five Minutes or Less

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial


 Deciding to keep things as simple as possible is helping me to stay more peaceful this month.


What are you doing to keep things simpler this month?


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  • Nina December 06, 2017

    Your cookies made with the vintage press are beautiful. My mother in law kindly gave me her spritz cookie press (which she obtained by redeeming books of Green Stamps) and I used it for many many years until it rebelled mightily in its old age. The modern version, in plastic, does not seem a worthy replacement.

    We keep Christmas simple here as well. We have a rule, one small gift for each of the others. In a group of 6, that means each person has 5 small gifts- a pair of socks, a food treat, a paperback book or some pens. We're just happy to be all together again under the same roof, if only for a week.

    I like how you keep Christmas, too.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker December 06, 2017

    There are some metal ones out there! I saw some on the link I shared to cookie presses.

  • Marcia R. December 06, 2017

    I have a metal one that is not more than 10 years old. I have to admit I've only made them once or twice and they were not a great success, even with my husband helping with the actual pressing. I should experiment--probably after Christmas--as I already see time getting short here. I have most things bought--three or four gifts left to buy--but have given little thought so far to the family party I will host between Christmas and New Year's. Nothing is wrapped yet but my supplies are all in place, so I will spend some time doing that very soon. I did have surgery 2 days before Thanksgiving, so that is my excuse when I need one. I am nearly recovered now--about 90% anyhow. Still needing extra rest mostly, and my sleep schedule is out of whack because of it. I feel fine until I suddenly run completely out of energy, like slamming into a brick wall. Luckily, I am making it until after dinner most days! Plod steadily onward is my motto--I like to have the last week before the holiday for baking and have almost everything else done by then. That's the goal!!

  • Michelle December 06, 2017

    I have a plastic Wilton one that I bought on deep discount at Target after Christmas several years ago & it actually works really well. I've used my grandmother's metal one as well and was please with the results.

  • Nina December 08, 2017

    Thank you for letting me know this!

  • Lisa December 07, 2017

    Check eBay for vintage cookie presses as a great price.

  • Cindi December 06, 2017

    This was a lovely post. It's so good this time of year to focus on peace and family and the 'reason for the season.'
    I will buy the ham for our Christmas dinner the week before the holiday, plus a few items for stockings. That week we are also going to Costco (three hours away) -- primarily so my husband can be fitted for hearing aids. He has needed these for a while, and getting them at Costco will save us several thousand dollars over the price of a local store -- making the drive worth it. While there, I will stock up on flour, olive oil, vinegar, peanut butter, coffee, and some other items we prefer to buy there. It will be a big trip, but we have set the money aside to do it. Also, this Saturday, our local pet store has their annual sale on pet food -- $10 off each big bag, limit 2, so we will buy two bags -- a big savings.
    All the presents have been shipped off to family and friends -- almost all of them home made. My husband and I are only exchanging stockings. The cards are going in the mail today. After my two holiday concerts this weekend that obligation will be met, so I plan to enjoy a couple of low-key get-togethers with friends, bake some cookies and make caramel corn, watch Christmas movies, listen to books, and knit.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher December 06, 2017

    I love this! I've been feeling the holiday stress this year, even though we pay for gifts with credit card rewards (so all gifts are essentially "free"). I think it's important to prioritize simplicity during a time of year when it's reaaaaaally easy to go overboard. I signed myself up for way too much, so I'm focusing on taking it one day at a time.

  • Kim December 06, 2017

    As I read your post this morning, a sense of peace settled over me. You have such a nice way of educating us on living a frugal lifestyle while appreciating the beauty that is around us. You are such an inspiration to so many and I appreciate all that you do here on your blog.
    Your cookie photo today stopped me in my tracks. It looks like it belongs in a magazine. So pretty. I am wondering whether you make and freeze your cookies and, if so, what is the best method for keeping them fresh tasting and looking pretty when serving time comes?
    The Christmas you describe sounds ideal to me. At my stage of life, it has become easier to achieve simple. The decorations went up the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year I sent many things to a thrift shop that works with the local children's home. I also sold some of my vintage things on Ebay. This was a first to me, but it has proven to be worthwhile.
    Now that the house is ready, we are enjoying the lights and candlelight in the evening. I have been roasting and freezing the heirloom pumpkins that played a prominent part of the fall décor. That will come in handy for holiday baking and soup. I bake many cookies every year. Usually I wait until later in the month as I want them to have that just baked taste. I'm thinking I may start early if those of you who bake and freeze are willing to share your experiences. I am also planning to make some gifts of food for those on my list.

  • Marcia R. December 06, 2017

    I have baked and frozen Mexican wedding cakes and chocolate chip cookies. Both are fine when thawed. The rest I pretty much want freshly baked. Since we are only two here, sometimes I freeze half the recipe of cookie dough and just bake off when I want more cookies. Also a time saver. The older I get, the fewer the number of cookies I make. We just don't need to eat them so frequently either.

  • Stacy December 06, 2017

    I freeze my cookies. What I do is put them on cookie trays where they aren't touching and flash freeze them for several hours or overnight. When they are rock solid I then put them in bags (I have a food saver so I bag them that way) and since they are already frozen they don't stick to each other and mess up any icing or decorations.

  • Rhonda A. December 06, 2017

    I have very successfully frozen many treats that I make for Christmas, be it cookies, squares, tarts or fudge. I just place them in containers with waxed or parchment paper between layers. They last in the freezer for a month or two. We usually start baking in November and are often eating leftovers well into January. Lemon tarts are one of the few exceptions...they need to be made only a day or two before hand. If you are concerned and want the "fresh baked" taste, then I suggest freezing the unbaked cookie dough or tarts ahead, then have a baking day just before Christmas. With everything ready to go, it will definitely save you lots of time while still being freshly baked.

  • Melissa V December 08, 2017

    I make many of my cookie and bar doughs about a week or so in advance and store them in the frig. That way I can set it out on the counter to come to room temp (if needed) and bake them up after dinner. If you do any with mint though, I advise NOT doing this - mint seems to permeate everything even if it's well wrapped!

  • elizabeth December 06, 2017

    You are such a breath of fresh air, always. I've been taking advantage of client work slowing down just a little earlier than usual to really take my time with things this year and just be quiet. Thank you for the thoughtful blog, and merry *everything* to you and your family!

  • Jo December 06, 2017

    This was a perfect post. I will read this one again and again.
    My husband and I have been scaling back the holiday frenzy anywhere we can for years. We aren't party people, so if we have one dinner to attend for the holidays, that's usually it. It suits us!
    I have simplified my decorating and given away a lot of my old decorations. Since we observe Advent, the only decoration we have right now is the Advent candles, which we'll light in order each Sunday, with a reading. I will decorate for Christmas before Christmas Eve, but I do it as late in the month as I can get by with.
    One problem we used to have was that we had large families. Even though we drew names for some family members, I realized that my husband and I, a young, struggling couple trying to start a family, were buying and making 35 gifts each year, if we gave everyone on our list a single gift, and that didn't count each other or our kids. In fact, we often had no money left to buy each other a gift, so we called a halt to most of the gift exchanging, with the exception of immediate families. That worked great for years. But now, our kids are grown and we've added sons-in-law, grandkids, a step-grandkid, and the list is growing bigger again. I refuse to stop giving gifts to my siblings (we only have 2 left, and our parents are all gone), husband, our kids, their spouses and my grandkids, so we have tried to at least make the gifts we exchange smaller and less expensive, for everyone's sake. Still, it means I'm once again shopping for a lot of gifts, even though I often make some, too. What have others done in this situation?

  • CIndy in the South December 07, 2017

    The $20 I referred to earlier, is the "family " gift. My daughter is married so it is for her and her husband. Ditto for my oldest son. I also give my single sons (two of them) $20, so my amount has not changed. Since I have four kids and each kid (or kid's family) receives $20, that is the total ($80.) I do give the only grandchild a gift, again with a $20 limit. So, the only "gifts" I will do are for grandchildren. That is why $100 is the total I spent on Christmas gifts. It will increase if I have more grandchidren, but I hope to keep it at $20 per grandchild, so as not to let it get totally out of hand in future years. I will add, I pay for car insurance monthly for three of my kids, and health insurance for one of those three sons, since he has significant, life threatening illnesses (my other child, my only daughter, refuses to accept any help and has offered to help me with her brother's medical expenses.) So, I feel I help monthly, as to what is needed, and there is no need for me to stress about Christmas presents to my four grown kids and their spouses.

  • Kelly J. December 07, 2017

    Yes, if you are helping with ongoing expenses, its just a small thought or token that counts at Christmas. And, yes, I am learning how the expenses can grow and get out of hand very quickly if you don't have some type of understanding or plan. Merry Christmas to you and yours...:)

  • Andrea December 07, 2017

    My grandparents gave each of their children's families the same amount of money year after year, no matter how many kids each family had (or not). When the grandchildren became adults with their own homes, they gave a smaller amount of money to each of us. Again, every grandchild received the same amount wether or not we were married or had kids. I assume they continued to give the same set amount to their children.

    My parents often used that money to fund most of our Christmas. I split what was given to me between my children's savings accounts.

  • Kelly J. December 06, 2017

    Hi, Brandy: What a sweet post this was! I enjoyed it so much; good, useful information for you young wives & mothers. It's always better to keep things simple. It's then easier to make what you do more elegant, cost effective, and of quality. And certainly more memorable and meaningful to your children. I would love to hear ideas from "empty nest" mothers who might be trying to figure out how to go about Christmas presents, etc., with grown children who have their own families. One large gift for the family, separate, cash, or gifts? And grandkids are another story!!! Its hard to see your children struggle, as they make their own way, and you want to do so much for them. However, you don't want to injure their pride either. And you want them to learn, as we all did coming up with our own families. Thanks again, Brandy. Both my daughters now read your blog and love it.

  • Stacy December 06, 2017

    My husband and I are empty nesters and our daughter and her significant other live in another state. No grandkids, but two grand-cats! :) She came home for Thanksgiving so I made a point to have any gifts wrapped so she could take them home to save me shipping. I'm trying to get them to think of the holiday ahead of time and start thinking of what traditions they want, what they want to eat, etc. They both have big sweet tooths so I had a specialty cheesecake sent to them as I feel like sometimes when you are struggling or just starting out, it's the extra stuff that gets lost. I thought a special dessert treat for Christmas would be fun for them and something they certainly wouldn't buy themselves.

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