Do you find yourself running out to the store multiple times each week to pick up just a few items? Does it seem like you’re investing way too much time buying food?
We can totally help. Here are some of our top strategies to help you make fewer trips to the market, and more time doing, well, whatever else you’d rather be doing!
Let’s cut to the chase and get you back out there:
1. Lists, lists, lists: Create a master list of your family’s staples, and organize it by your grocery store’s layout (aisle by aisle) for faster shopping. Also, post a shopping list each week in a central place (i.e., the refrigerator) so all family members can add to it when they use the last of an item. Bonus: This may cut down on empty cartons of milk left in the fridge.
2. Plan your meals: Take 20 minutes once each week (Sundays work well) to plan your meals and write down needed ingredients on your weekly shopping list. This will alleviate the weeknight stress of last-minute meal decisions, cut down on panic take-out orders, and of course, extra trips to the market. It also provides an answer to that ubiquitous “What’s for dinner?” question. Need inspiration? Check out our Weekly Meal Plan, where we recommend lunch, brunch, and dinner recipes for every day of the week. You’re welcome!
3. Don’t make it once – make it a double: If you’re making a recipe that’s easily doubled like soups, stews, baked pastas, and casseroles, make two and freeze one so you can enjoy a stress-free homemade meal at a later date. Again, this cuts down on last-minute trips to the store, and means you’ll have another meal ready for a busy night. Some easy recipes to double are Baked Ziti, Mild Green Beef Chili, and Brown Macaroni with Four Cheeses and Cauliflower.
4. Be armed and prepared when it comes to shopping: Take your list (organized by aisle) and do not stray from this list. Ever. Ignore flashy end-caps that can distract and cause dreaded impulse buys. And never go shopping hungry - when you do, everything looks good! Sticking to your list saves time, because it means you’ll spend fewer minutes wondering “Should I get this?” and more time crossing off needed items.
5. Keep your pantry organized and stocked with essentials: When you have pantry essentials on-hand (see below), as well as basics like milk, eggs, bread, cheese, butter, and proteins, you should be able to pull a meal together at any time without running out to the store. Organize your pantry so you can see what you have and avoid buying duplicates. Keep items you use daily – like snacks and cereal – easily accessible, and keep like foods together – snacks on one shelf, canned and dry goods on another shelf, baking items on another shelf, etc.
Beans – white and black
Canned tomatoes – crushed, diced and whole
Chicken or vegetable stock
Olive and vegetable oils
Canned or jarred veggies like artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and jalapeños
Dried bread crumbs (Panko crumbs will provide the most crunch)
Peanut or other nut butters
[Top image via Flickr/truk]