One of my 2016 goals is to be a smarter grocery shopper. During my 100-Day Challenge I went to the store every single time I cooked a meal. This was inefficient and wasted lots of time.
Here are the best tips I’ve found.
Step 1: Plan Your Menu
Keep a master list of meals you love to eat & cook.
Since I’m still figuring out what I like to cook, I’m listing meals that I want to try making:
- Chicken dishes other than Oven Roasted Chicken
- Fish dishes other than Miso Glazed Salmon
- Filipino Food
Photo credit: www.issasarza.com, but the site is no longer active
Step 2: Make Your Shopping List
Based on your list of meals, plan how many times you’ll cook each one in the coming week/month.
- Make a shopping list of ingredients you need to buy.
- Also, keep a pen & paper in your kitchen. This is for writing down items that you run out of. Add these items to your shopping list.
Photo credit: hello cuteness!
Organize your shopping list according to your grocery store’s departments.
For example, Whole Foods is organized as follows:
- Fruits & Vegetables
- Meat & Seafood
- Dairy & Juice
- Bread & Bagels
- Frozen Food
- Canned & Packaged goods
- Spices, Baking Supplies, Pasta, Rice, etc.
Photo credit: active rain
Step 3: Organize Your Shopping Cart
While shopping, divide your cart into 4 sections:
- Boxed and pre-packaged items
- Canned goods
- Fruits & vegetables
- Dairy, cheese, yogurt, meats and frozen items
Use the area under the cart for cleaning supplies, drinks, and paper goods.
When you put everything on the conveyor belt at checkout, group similar items together and ask that they be bagged this way too. This will help keep dry items dry and cold items cold. You’ll also save time putting your groceries away since all pantry/refrigerator/freezer items will be bagged together.
Photo credit: Woman’s Day
- Always select your frozen or refrigerated items (produce/dairy/meat) last so that they stay cold.
- Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking.
- Do not buy food past ‘Sell-By’ or other expiration dates.
- Separate meat/poultry/seafood/eggs from other foods. Do this in your cart and grocery bags.
- If saving time is one of your primary goals, about.com recommends committing to a single store for the following reasons:
- Chasing lower prices at different stores often does not pay off. You spend more in time & gas than the savings are worth.
- When you shop at the same store again and again, you learn where everything is. This helps you shave minutes off each trip.
- Some typically busy times to avoid going to the store:
- Evenings between 5-8pm;
- Saturdays between 10am-4pm;
By staying organized and following the steps above on a consistent basis, you can save time and stress at the grocery store.