Crazy but true. I loooove grocery shopping. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, our local farmer’s markets…I seriously geek out as soon as I step foot in any one of them.
There’s just something about the rows and rows of colorful produce and delicious dinner possibilities that give me those “kid in a candy store” vibes.
Inevitably, this makes step two of the meal planning process – The Shopping – my very favorite.
I mentioned here how creating a meal plan each week is one of the most effective ways to eat better and improve your health, and I shared the three super simple (but muy importante) steps that help make the meal planning process a success.
Step one was all about The Planning – selecting your recipes, choosing your meals and organizing your week – and today we’re moving on to step two with a few of my favorite tips that’ll help make your shopping trip as easy, inexpensive and enjoyable as possible.
BEFORE YOU GO
Tip #1: Write Your Grocery List
This might seem like a total no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people shop aimlessly without a list.
A grocery list is a lot like a GPS – without it, you’re lost.
For an effective time and money-saving grocery list, start by gathering all the recipes you selected for the upcoming week’s meal plan.
Then grab a cute notepad and jot down each recipe’s ingredient list, by department – fruits and veggies in one column, grains and beans in another, followed by nuts, seeds, oils, spices and other pantry staples – this will help you navigate the store really quickly without forgetting any necessary ingredients.
And don’t forget to include all the extra items you’ll need for the week, that don’t have recipes – like your mid-morning banana, those extra green tea bags or the veggies for your go-to tacos.
Tip #2: Shop Your Kitchen
Now that you’ve got your grocery list, it’s time to shop your kitchen – before you head to the store – and cross off any items that you already have on hand, this will prevent you from overbuying things you don’t need.
Then be sure to look through your pantry, freezer and fridge to see if there’s anything that still needs to be used up. If so, find a way to work those items into your upcoming meal plan so they don’t go to waste.
For example, add last week’s lingering bunch of kale to this week’s veggie soup, use the opened tomato paste from last week’s lasagne in this week’s pot of chili, instead of making rice, serve this week’s stir-fry with last week’s reheated quinoa.
And remember to scratch off anything from your grocery list that those “recycled” items can replace.
Tip #3: Make Sure You Have Your Go-To Essentials On Hand
A pantry that’s well stocked with your essential go-to items, will save the day when you need to whip up a quick go-to or back-up-plan meal.
For example, if quinoa bowls are your go-to, make sure that you always have quinoa and a can of beans in the pantry. If you prefer throwing a basic salad together, keep ingredients like fresh greens, extra virgin olive oil and a good vinegar on hand at all times.
Having (or not having) your go-to ingredients on hand can make (or break) your week. So, set yourself up for success and stock up on the essential items that’ll keep you on a healthy track, especially when things get hectic.
Tip #4: Eat Before You Shop
I can tell you from experience that when you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, you’ll want to buy e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you see. Grabbing a quick bite before you hit the store will keep you laser-focused and prevent you from overspending on impulse purchases.
ONCE YOU’RE THERE
Okay, you’ve arrived at the store well-prepared with a full belly and your trusty list. Well done, you! Now you just need to grab your goods and go…swoon, if only it were that easy!
With hundreds of products to choose from, unpronounceable mystery ingredients and misleading label claims, grocery shopping can be tricky business.
It usually requires a little detective work (or what I like to call sleuthing for the truth) to figure out exactly what you should buy and what you should bypass.
To help you become a market maven in minutes, I’ve compiled my favorite shopping strategies into a downloadable mini-guide, that you can print by clicking this link:
YOUR COMPLETE SUPERMARKET SAVVY GUIDE
Alright, that wraps up step two of the meal planning process. I hope you discovered some helpful shopping tips and strategies, and are feeling like a grocery store guru.
If you missed step one – The Planning – you can read it here. We’ll cover the third and final step – The Prepping – in a future blog, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.
Until then, I’d love to hear from you!
Do you have any grocery shopping tips, strategies or a-ha’s that make your life easier and/or help keep you on a healthy track?
Let me know in the comments below.
Happy Shopping! 🙂