Don’t you just love to grocery shop? “What,” you say, “love grocery shopping?” The truth is that very few people love to grocery shop. It’s just another chore that needs to be faced once a week – if you’re well organized – or several times a week if you’re not. Of course, the big problem is really not grocery shopping. It’s making a grocery list, which means meal planning and scanning your pantry or closet to see which items you’re short on. Then maybe there’s lunch for the kids or even for you to take to work. Yuck.
While there’s no way to make grocery shopping a breeze, there are things you can do to make it easier and here are 13 of them.
1. Buy in bulk
When you buy in bulk you not only save money it can help cut down on your grocery shopping. Of course, to do it right you have to do some thinking. For example when something goes on sale you know you should buy as much of it as you can and then store it. But you need to think what would make sense to store. When frozen vegetables are 10 for $10 it would make sense to buy 20 or 30 but do you have room to store that many? The same is true of frozen chickens. When they’re on sale for 99 cents a pound you might want to buy a lot but do you have enough room to store even three?
2. Talk among yourselves
Do you remember this line from Saturday Night Live? Well, even if you don’t it makes sense to keep it in mind. It can be very annoying when you do a week’s worth of grocery shopping only to see your spouse come home the next day with a gallon of milk that you don’t need. That’s just a waste of money. It’s important to communicate with each other about your groceries and your meal planning as this can prevent wasteful spending.
3. Label stuff
When you buy ingredients for meals you plan on fixing later in the week it’s a good idea to label them. That way you won’t reach into your pantry for those cans of tomato soup you need only to find one of them has already been consumed.
4. Play favorites
Do you shop at the same supermarket every week? When you do this you get to know the store’s layout as well as the prices of the things you buy most often. Then when the store offers something “on sale” you’ll know whether it’s a really good bargain.
5. Put your grocery list online or on your smart phone
You could make your best grocery list ever but it won’t do you much good if you forget to take it with you. It’s just very hard to remember 30 or more items. But if you put your list online or on your smart phone it will always be there. We have a shopping list app right on our phone, which makes this very simple. If you don’t have such an app you could put the list on Google Drive and then access it from anywhere.
6. Look for discounted items
When products, especially bakery items, are about to expire your grocery store will discount them. The same can be true of canned food and meat. Look for these items in your store because the discounts you’ll find are usually substantial and the food is still okay to eat. Don’t forget generic brands, as they will always be cheaper than brand name items. We probably buy one third of our grocery items as generic and have never had a problem with their taste or freshness.
7. Use your smart phone for something besides phone calls
There are apps available like Fresh 20 and Emeals that will provide recipes, a weekly menu list and even a grocery shopping list. In fact, if you follow the suggestions you’ll find on these apps you may never have to worry about dinner again. There is also Plan to Eat and Ziplist, which will organize your recipes for you and then convert your favorite meals into shopping lists and meal schedules. In short, these apps will do almost all the thinking for you – at least when it comes to grocery shopping.
8. Make sure you store food correctly
It can be very depressing to buy a whole week of food and then end up tossing away half of it because it went bad. A good investment is to spend a few minutes learning how to keep your food fresh for longer. As an example of this, you could stand fresh herbs in water. This will be pretty and is also practical.
9. Make a week’s worth of meals
Do you have friends that set aside one day a week such as Sunday and then make a week’s worth of meals and freeze them? You could do it yourself at home or go to services such as Dream Dinners or Wildtree. Check out your Yellow Pages and you’ll probably find other stores near you that offer the ingredients and workspace you would need to do this.
You really don’t have to do all the meal planning yourself. Ask your kids what they would like for dinner. Or give them a couple of cookbooks and let them look for stuff they would like. Be sure to tell them that desserts are not entrées or you could end up with suggestions of cupcakes for dinner.11. Create themesConsider having themed meals. For example, Tuesday could be taco night. Thursday could be spaghetti night. Wednesday could be what we call upside down dinner, which is basically having breakfast for dinner. These will be meals that everybody loves and when you do them weekly, it will take a lot of the stress out of menu planning
11. Create theme nights
Consider having themed meals. For example, Tuesday could be taco night. Thursday could be spaghetti night. Wednesday could be what we call upside down dinner, which is basically having breakfast for dinner. These will be meals that everybody loves and when you do them weekly, it will take a lot of the stress out of menu planning.
12. Become a coupon Queen or King
These days there are coupons available that will save you money on almost everything you buy. Your favorite supermarket may even be sending you coupons personalized to your buying habits as ours does. Plus, there are sites like Thecrazycouponlady and CouponChef where you’ll find thousands of coupons that will save you money and help with your menu planning. For example, if you were to find a coupon that would save you $2 on a pound of steak why not plan a meal around it instead of the fish dish you had been planning?
13. Go really big
We realize this doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, it may work only for a select few. But if you plan your meals for an entire year, it will be over and done with for 365 days. Then when Saturday rolls around instead of having to sit down and think about what meals you’re going to fix that week all you’ll have to do is make a grocery list.