Over the years, I’ve read a lot of articles on how to save money on your family food budget by having a meal plan in place, preparing a grocery list, and only going to the store once a month. Articles like this and this.

And I’ve tried, really, I have! I’ve made up index cards with all the ingredients I need for a meal so when I go to make a grocery list I won’t forget something. I’ve got a calendar with a plan for every day of the week that I can easily switch up at will. This has taken me HOURS of time to create. And I know if I continued with the plan it would, in theory, get easier. But it just seems to get harder, which leaves me feeling like a failure.

Well, no more! I’m done with guilt and I’m done with monthly grocery shopping. My goal these days is to only go to the grocery store once a day. Or, on a good week, every other day. Sometimes I don’t even succeed with the once-a-day plan and make my way to the store at least twice. Judge if you must.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’m sure I’m not alone and there are other women, possibly young moms, trying so hard to be someone they think they should be and distressed by their inability to succeed with this menu planning thing at which everyone else seems to excel.

Dear friend, you are not a failure! You are, perhaps, European!

Europeans walk WAY more than we do in the United States. They don’t go to the grocery store and stock up for the month. They go every day or two and grab what they need for the next couple of days, only buying as much as they can carry home.

I have a friend who walks every place she goes in our little town. She decided when she moved here to pretend she lives in New York City (which takes a whole lot of imagination!) and walk everywhere she goes. People in New York walk a lot, too, as there’s really no place to park. My friend goes to the grocery store almost every day and doesn’t feel a lick of guilt. Granted, the walking thing takes away a lot of guilt but it’s not a bad plan.

I’m still working on the whole walking to the grocery store thing but I’ve succeeded in doing so three times of late. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

So, if meal planning has been a struggle for you, don’t feel like a failure. Just tell your friends you’re a European shopper. (That’ll keep them guessing.) Sure, you might spend a few more dollars every month but you’ll be sane and your fruits and veggies will be fresh. As an added bonus, you might get to know the checkout clerk who could turn into your new best friend.

Sanity, friendship, fresh food, and possibly a little more exercise. Maybe those Europeans are onto something.