Welcome to Part 2 of my Chaos Management Series: Grocery Shopping!
If you haven’t checked out Part 1 of my Chaos Management Series: Meal Planning, I recommend you go take a look there first.
I hope you are ready to get started. The goal of this post is to streamline making your grocery list. It will save you time and help you stop over and under buying groceries. It has taken me years to really get the hang of grocery shopping. Only after I actually took the time to think about it, did I figure it out. Before then I just wandered the aisles and thought I would remember everything.
What you’ll need:
- Your weekly meal plan on a piece of paper in front of you
- A second piece of paper, like my free printable
- A writing utensil
- Recipes for the week
Making Your List: Item and Amount
Now you are going to physically go into your kitchen with your pile of supplies. Let’s be honest with each other here. Neither you nor I keep an accurate mental catalog of all the things in our fridge and cupboards. If you don’t start in the kitchen, you will end there to finish writing your list.
We are going to start in the top left and work our way from there. For breakfast, I need to check that I have enough oatmeal, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Bread for toast and sandwiches goes on the list every week.
For lunch, I need to check how much lettuce, carrots, and salad dressing I have. I might also peek at the mustard levels, but my husband is good at letting me know when he needs more.
For dinner, I need to go through each recipe one at a time to make sure I have enough tomato sauce and chicken broth. If I don’t physically look at the recipes, I will forget essential ingredients like ground turkey for turkey tacos.
For drinks, dessert, and snacks, I need to see how many bags of chips are left. The rest I generally need to buy fresh. I might also need more flour or tea.
This is also a great time to throw out anything hiding in your fridge. Are your eggs expired? Should your hot sauce be that shade of brown? Weekly pruning will keep your fridge cleaner and make it less of a chore.
The last thing I do is check my notes on my phone for anything I might have written down as needing during the week. These are normally toiletries, cleaning supplies, or things I don’t buy often (light bulbs). I keep this list on my to do app, but any basic notes app can do the job or even a piece of paper on your fridge.
A few things to note
- You might need certain ingredients in multiple recipes, likes eggs or chicken. I just write 1+2+1 in the amount column and total them at the end.
- For things like cucumber that I eat several nights a week, I count them all across my meal planning sheet and then subtract the amount in the fridge from the total in the Amount column (5-2=3).
- There should be no hard math in the Amount column.
- Be as specific as you like in the Item column. If you need a brand name, or a certain sized package write it down.
Write the stores you are going to at the top of the list. I recommend only going to 2-3 stores per week.
I make a little x in the box where I can find the item. If I can get it at multiple stores, then this is a good time to compare things like price and quality. Sometimes chicken is on sale, or the lettuce looks better at the first store I go into.
As you buy items, I recommend you cross out the entire row. It’s very satisfying. Alternatively, you can take this paper and make mini lists for each store either on your phone or another piece of paper.
When I order online, I’ll make a checkmark next to where I ordered it. If it’s out of stock at one store, I can sometimes still add it to the order at the other.
I only go grocery shopping about once a week. I’m too busy to go more than once. My time is valuable, just like yours. Extra trips for that thing I forgot can be frustrating and stressful. My husband and I are starting to do more grocery pickup and delivery, because we would rather spend our time together doing things other than shopping at the grocery store.
Where I Shop
My main store is Sprouts, a local produce focused grocery store. We buy most of our produce (zucchini, oranges, potatoes, etc.) and bulk dry goods (flour, rice, sugar) here. If you live near one, I recommend it. I love their produce. It is generally cheaper and tastes better. They are very focused on healthy and organic foods, so much so that they don’t carry many of the name brand staples I use (Heinz ketchup).
The rest of my weekly groceries either come from Ralph’s (Kroger), Von’s (Albertson’s) or Target. I go to one of these a week depending on my schedule and what I need. This stop is more for name brands, a few staples, and things they don’t sell at Sprouts (Doritos, ketchup, deodorant).
About once a month, we go to Costco. I love Costco. I assume you could also go to Sam’s Club for roughly the same stuff. We buy large quantities of stuff we know we will go through (pasta sauce, shampoo, paper towels).
I know grocery stores are very regional, but you can probably find similar stores where you live.
When You Go
First thing Saturday morning is a great time to go grocery shopping. There aren’t that many people in the stores, even at 10 am. As long as we go in the morning, we don’t get stuck behind people arguing over coupons or returning half their cart at the register.
We have to get up to walk the dogs, anyway, might as well go to the grocery store. By going in the morning after breakfast, I’m not hungry and am less likely to impulse buy a pile of chocolate. It also just gets this chore out of the way to I can enjoy my weekend.
I hope this has helped you make your weekly shopping list. Where do you do your grocery shopping? I would love to hear from you in the comments below about making your list or if you have any questions.
After you have finished your grocery shopping, please feel free to check out Part 3 of my Chaos Management series: Cooking!