i used to dread going to the grocery store after work.
or, ever really.
i love to eat, love to cook, love having snacks around at the house, but i just hated the process of obtaining the food. i'd wander around aimlessly, trying to force myself to think of some meals for the week. and even though i always left with plenty of stuff, i still felt like there was a better way. a way to shop for food quickly, efficiently, and maybe even cheaply.
so i took my hatred of this task and decided to find a better way to approach it. i love a good efficiency challenge, and this approach has made grocery shopping a breeze.
this method takes just a teensy bit of pre-planning, but it gets me in and out of the store quicker than i ever have, and i even find that i waste less food this way.
and coming from someone whose parents would rather die than throw food out, this is a good thing.
so let's get started!
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you'll want to begin by thinking of some meal items for the week. this can be anything. big, small, heavy, light, easy, slow cooker. the process works the same no matter what your diet, household size, or cooking abilities.
here's a sample of what mine might look like on a typical week.
then, once you've come up with as many meals as you're planning to shop for, start listing the ingredients. the boy likes to do this on his iphone; i prefer pen + paper.
i should note that for something like pizza, i've listed flour and yeast, but we usually have those things at the house. i also make my own sauce, so i wouldn't be buying pizza sauce when i'm out shopping, but i was trying to be extra comprehensive in this example. but once you start making your list, you'll be able to identify the basics (salt, pepper, olive oil, flour) that you don't actually need to shop for.
here's my version, below. i also added some sides for the meatloaf and shrimp meals.
now you're almost ready to hit the store.
take your list of ingredients, and organize them by section: produce, frozen, meats, etc.
this way, you know exactly what you need in each area, instead of being distracted by things you didn't come to buy in the first place. i'm very guilty of this ("oh! those look yummy!")
i think it's ok to do this; i don't mind an impulse buy every now and again, but i really try to stick to the list if i can.
down below is the list that you'll be taking to the grocery store. if you're shopping with someone, it's awesome to divide and conquer. i'm seriously amazed how fast we get out of there sometimes. but doing this by yourself is also quick and easy.
here's what my list looks like for this particular example.
|*please forgive the "tortiallas" typo. yikes.|
since in this example, i'm making taco rice (have you tried it yet?) and chicken tacos in the same week (i can't ever get enough), i can get away with buying one bag or block of cheese and one container of sour cream and use them for both meals.
that way, things don't go to waste.
the same goes for produce: no more tossing out a sad, wilted head of iceberg. you've planned to use it twice in one week and you know that it'll get used, not thrown out.
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if this was an actual shopping list, i may include a general category for "snacks" or "frozen meals for work." i also add basics (bread, milk) to the list as i need them. but i didn't include those things in this example because i think that planning meals is the biggest challenge most of us face.
the grocery store can feel overwhelming (so many choices) and annoying (long checkout lines), but i think this minimizes how much of a chore it is.