5 Tips to Grocery Shop Like a Pro

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    5 Tips to Help You Grocery Shop Like a Pro

    5 Tips to Help You Grocery Shop Like a Pro
    Fridge Bins and Organizer and Tray from Crate and Barrel. Photo / Fridge Bins and Organizer and Tray from Crate and Barrel

    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:

    1. How often will you go?
    2. How many stores or markets will you shop at?
    3. How will you organize your grocery list?

    1. Grocery shop twice a week.

    I recommend you shop twice a week to make things easier.

    • T...MORErip # 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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. With less to shop for, you'll be in and out quicker, and can probably use the express line for your second trip.

    2. 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. 

    3. Organize your grocery list.

    Put together your grocery list while you are meal planning for the week.

    Here's how I do this: Since I'm in a 2-person household that eats out and travels often, I try to make two fresh meals a week, and one-two times a month I make a batch of soup (stew, chili, etc.) or a crock pot meal that keeps well, and I store them in single portion-sized containers in the freezer.

    For the two fresh meals, I print out the recipes and use them to make my weekly shopping list. I add in any other staples I eat and drink regularly (coffee, oatmeal, peanut butter, kale, hummus).

    I then put my list in a clear plastic folder with the two recipes, coupons, and the recipes of any frozen meal I'm making and I put these in my handbag so they are there when I make my grocery run.

    This works so well for me that is has become a habit (as motivational expert Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson said it would in How to Stick to a Daily Routine).

    Continue to 2 of 2 below.
  • 02 of 02

    More Pro Grocery Shopping Tips

    All Clad Stainless Steel Roasting Pan from Williams Sonoma
    All Clad Stainless Steel Roasting Pan from Williams Sonoma. Photo / Williams Sonoma

    4. Format your grocery list so it makes sense.

    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:

    • Organize by store. For instance, I shop at three different stores: Trader Joe's, Stop & Shop and Whole Foods. I tend to buy meat, grains, and dairy at Whole foods, produce and drinks at Stop & Shop, and snacks at Trader Joe's.
    • Organize by store lay...MORE 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, I organize like this: produce, meat and fish, grains, dairy, snacks, spices, staples and finally, frozen foods.

    5. Do the grocery shopping.

    I love to grocery shop, but only if it's early in the morning and I have a cup of coffee in my hand, every other time it's just something I have to do. My friend Michelle likes to go on Friday nights because she thinks there are less people in the store. Most people I've found, really hate this chore.

    Here are my recommendations for less-stressful shopping:

    1. Shop online. When I lived in New York City, I used a service called Fresh Direct (before it got way too expensive), which was a great tool for organizing because I didn't have to worry about formatting a list. As I chose recipes, I added ingredients to my online shopping cart and everything was delivered and labelled.
    2. Shop on your way home from work. Bodies in motion stay in motion. I have often thought, "Oh I'll just run home first" before going to the gym/grocery store/bank/dry cleaners. Once I'm home, I tend to settle in for the night. Shop on your way home to avoid ending up on your couch with no groceries.
    3. Choose a grocery store convenient to other venues you frequent. My main grocery store is right next to a gas station, my favorite nail salon, and my dry cleaners. It saves time to get gas, pick up dry cleaning, and then hit the store all in one trip since I don't have to shuttle all over town between each stop.

    What are your favorite tips for meal planning and stay organized in the kitchen? Read reader tips and add your own: Kitchen Organization Tips