Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the thought of grocery shopping? Unsure of what to buy and how much of it? We tend to overcomplicate things a lot of the time, so here are some practical pointers to simplify the process.
Before You Go:
- Figure out how many people you are shopping for.
- Obvious tip #1 – If you are shopping for a family, you will need to buy more food than if you are shopping for yourself.
- Figure out how many meals & snacks you need for each of those people.
- Obvious tip #2 – You don’t need to make food for meals that you will eat at restaurants or that other people will cook for you.
- Locate recipes you want to make; either print them or write down the ingredients. (If you’re not a recipe person, skip down to #4).
- Obvious tip #3 – If you don’t know what you plan on making, you won’t know what to buy.
- Semi-pro Tip: when I find a recipe I think is appealing, I print it off. After I make it, I decide whether or not I like it enough to save & make again. If I do, I put it in a binder of other successful recipes I’ve made. If not, I toss it. Over time, I’ve ended up with a personalized cookbook of all my Go To recipes.
- If you’re not into recipes, you still need to go in with a plan of what you’re going to buy, so make a list of what sources of protein, carbs, and fat sound appealing, or base your decisions on weekly sales at your preferred grocery store. Or on your astrological chart. Or something. Just decide somehow.
- Obvious tip #4 – see obvious tip #3.
- Semi-pro Tip: when I’m only shopping/cooking for myself, I prefer the mix & match approach. I buy protein, veggies, starchy carbs, and fats, cook them all en masse and then pick and choose how to combine them for a given meal. It allows for some variety while simplifying the food prep process.
- Do math based on 1-4. You shouldn’t need a scientific calculator but a pen & paper might help. For example, if a recipe makes 4 servings, but you want to use it for Monday-Thursday lunches for both you and your spouse, you’ll need double the listed ingredients.
- Obvious tip #5 – If you don’t know how much to buy, you’ll probably end up with either too much or too little.
- Put it all in one place, ie a grocery list.
- Obvious tip #6 – Doing all the steps above won’t be a whole lot of help unless you have the results with you when you need them.
- Eat a snack before you go. It’s true that shopping on an empty stomach can result in a cart full of snack foods that might look enticing at the time, but aren’t the best options to fuel you for the week.
- Semi-pro Tip: I eat a snack and then chew gum while I’m there so that even if I’m still tempted, I’ve got fresh breath & an occupied mouth.
Once You Get There:
- Stick to the plan. You didn’t do all that pre-work for nothing; put it to good use.
- Stick to the perimeter. Don’t venture into the aisles unless it’s for something specific on your list like cooking oil or something canned. If you don’t see the rows of colorfully packaged junk foods, you’re much less likely to buy them.
- Stock up if there’s a sale on one of your staple items.
That’s pretty much it. If you do a little bit of leg work in the beginning, the shopping itself is a breeze.
Need more help? I also offer one-time coaching sessions to help you with grocery store prep, as well as grocery store tours and kitchen makeovers.