How I Grocery Shop
I’m a wierdo. Grocery shopping has always been kinda fun for me. I will admit that as I get older and my schedule gets crazier, I do dread it sometimes and struggle to find the time to do it. I often dream of just having them delivered to me, and have definitely considered it for time-saving reasons…but once I’m at the store, I love being able to touch items, read labels, and spend an hour or two kind of escaping all the other things I have waiting for me at home.
I also oddly enjoy writing my grocery list. I’m a Type A personality, so that means that lists are my JAM and I love having things planned out.
So, with that said, how do I plan my groceries while keeping budget, convenience, and intuitive eating in mind? Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to share today. J
This is a question I often get asked as a dietitian, and I also just think it’s a fun thing to talk about with people. Everyone grocery shops differently and I think all different ways have their benefits. This is just the way I choose to plan and shop, but if this isn’t how you like to do it, no problem! Stick with what works for you.
I grocery shop every 2-ish weeks. That’s the pattern I started when I was in college, and it just stuck with me. I usually have to stop on my way home from work about a week in to pick up more vegetables or breakfast foods, but I personally would rather do that than have to do a big trip every week.
When we are getting to the 2 week mark, I grab my planner and a notepad. I then write out every day of the next two weeks, and fill in the days that we will be out and therefore won’t need a dinner plan.
I usually plan about 8 meals for 14 days. I found that when I planned a meal for every single day, one, we were ending up with lots of leftovers, and two, it made me feel stressed about choosing to go out to dinner for fun, knowing I had a meal “planned” for that evening. That’s where the intuitive part comes in. Leaving some space in the schedule for spontaneous dinners out or choosing to warm up a frozen meal because I would rather do something other than cooking that evening has been really helpful. We also spend almost every weekend up in Roseville where our friends and family live, so on the weekends I rarely ever have a dinner plan.
The next step is planning the meals. I currently prefer meals that take around an hour. I’d love to get down to 30-minute meals, but I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m thinking that I probably would have to prep a ton on the weekends, and I’m just not into that. So 60-minute meals it is.
I find recipes on my Pinterest board and also use cookbooks. My favorites right now are Thug Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two. I cook mostly chicken but like to throw in either pork or turkey once or twice, and salmon. With that in mind, I just start choosing recipes. There isn’t really any organization to this part. I usually choose recipes I’ve already made and know we love, but sometimes I add in a new recipe. This often happens when a recipe calls for an herb or vegetable I don’t normally use, and I need another recipe to use up the leftovers. That’s how I figure out what order I’ll make recipes in – recipes with “sensitive” ingredients (ingredients that will go bad more quickly) get made first, and the other recipes follow. This is the best way I’ve found to minimize food waste.
Sometimes, however, I notice that I get home and just don’t feel like making the recipe planned. Again, this is where intuition comes in. I just move on to the next recipe and skip the one planned for the night. I’ve noticed before that a certain recipe will get skipped over for like 4 weeks…so I decided that probably meant that subconsciously I didn’t want to make that meal haha. So I took it off for good.
Once I’ve written out my list full of ingredients needed for the recipes, I write down my staples that I always buy. This includes coffee creamer, snacks, a few of my favorite frozen TJs meals, bagels for breakfast and peanut butter. I also always make sure we have ingredients to make 1-2 desserts and have a couple other sweet things to munch on. We currently love chocolate covered almonds.
I’ve always grocery shopped this way, and it’s always helped me to stick to a budget. I get excited by pretty labels and new products (I think it’s the dietitian in me), so if I go into a store with no list, I totally start buying a bunch of random stuff that ends up not getting eaten. This is why I can’t shop at Whole Foods. Wayyyyy too many of the products in there excite me, even though I have no idea how I’d ever use them!
So, that’s my process! It takes up some time for sure, but it’s proven to be the best way for me and my husband at this point in our lives.
What are you grocery shopping tips? I’m always looking for ways to make this process more efficient!