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How to Meal Plan and Grocery Shop Like a Pro
Grocery shopping is one of those tasks that no family can escape. If you want to eat, someone in the household has got to, at some point, cross the threshold of a grocery store or market. Here's a rundown of how to make this task easier. There are three questions to answer when deciding how to grocery shop:
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- How often will you go?
- How many stores or markets will you shop at?
- How will you organize your grocery list?
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Grocery Shop Twice a Week
Shopping twice a week (if you live close enough to a grocery store) will make your meal planning easier. If you can only go once, that means you buy more on your trip and consider using the freezer to keep a few things fresher longer.
- Trip # 1: After you've done your meal planning, do your main grocery shopping.
- Trip # 2: Use this as filler trip to refresh the produce bin and fruit bowl (just as the Kitchen Cupboard Coach recommended in Healthy Meal Planning) . You can also pick up anything... you forgot the first time.
Many so-called "experts" will tell you to shop once a month to save time, and then freeze your meals. That's good, essential advice for people who live really far from grocery stores, but those people usually live on or near farms and have access to fresh produce.
The other secret? The more often you go to the store the less time it will take. Here's why:
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- You'll have a better idea of what's in your refrigerator and pantry, and what's left in the fruit bowl on your counter top.
- You'll know the layout of the store better, so no more wandering around wondering why the ketchup and mustard are not in the same aisle.
- With less to shop for, you'll be in and out quicker, and can probably use the express line for your second trip.
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Keep a Running Grocery List in a High-Traffic Area
If you're in a larger household, keep the list where everyone in your home can see it and add to it. I like the fridge for this list-keeping detail, with a writing utensil attached so it can be updated. A great option for storing your grocery list is a basic clipboard.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
Create Your Grocery List While You Meal Plan
Put together your grocery list while you are meal planning for the week.
Here's how to do this:
Identify a set of recipes that you can whip up easily and enjoy eating. Some people rotate between a few cookbooks, some like to browse recipes online and create a Pinterest board to pin them to for storage. Whatever your method, it's a good idea to limit your weekly meal planning so you're not overwhelmed with choice.
As you plan out your meals, create a shopping list at the same time so you don't... miss any ingredients. You can use a notebook, a pad or just type them into your phone.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Organize Your Grocery List
Now that you have your list, it's time to lay it in a way that is user-friendly. Luckily, that user is you, so you will be very, very good at this step.
Some ways you can organize your list:
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- Organize by store. If you go to a few different stores, say, Whole Foods for your main groceries and then Trader Joes for frozen food, list items by store.
- Organize by store lay out. Then, you can break this down even further and organize by the way your grocery store is organized. As you can see in the weekly... shopping list, it's easiest to organize like this: produce, meat and fish, grains, dairy, snacks, spices, staples and finally, frozen foods.
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When to Shop
The best times to shop are on weekdays before 4pm or on Friday nights after 8pm. If those times aren't convenient for you, consider the following:
- Shop online. Many stores now offer their own online shopping options with delivery. You can order your groceries from home and set a delivery window. In addition, there's Instacart which is now operating all over the country.
- Shop on your way home from work and combine it with something you like doing: Bodies in motion stay in motion. resist the... urge to go home before running errands after work. Once you're home, you tend to settle in for the night. Shop on your way home to avoid ending up on your couch with no groceries. A good trick here is to combine it with something you enjoy. Maybe buy yourself a cup of go-to tea before you shop.
- Choose a grocery store convenient to other venues you frequent. Choose a grocery store near a gas station, your favorite nail salon, and your dry cleaners. It saves time to get gas, pick up dry cleaning, and then hit the store all in one trip.