Grocery shopping— not the sexiest of topics. It isn’t flat-abs-in-5-minutes, it isn’t 10-pounds-in-10-days, and isn’t eat-everything-you-want-and-still-lose-weight… but it is important. Really important. Effective and planned grocery shopping is one of the easiest, most simple steps you can take to healthier living and easier weight loss.
Why? Because it makes it easier to make healthy decisions. If your fridge is full of the good, you’re less likely to eat the bad. If you don’t plan, though, you’re more likely to pay too much, forget what you need, splurge on junk food, and buy less useful, less versatile food. None of that sounds great, right? So to avoid a frozen-dinner and empty-wallet fate, follow my plan to become your most organized, most effective, healthiest grocery shopping self.
I know, I know, cleaning the fridge is gross and unfun and no one likes it. But having a clean, organized fridge doesn’t just look better– it makes it easier to see what you have, what you don’t have, and what needs to go on your list. You can use your space more effectively, grab what you need in a flash, and you don’t have to play the what-is-causing-that-smell game. Plus, if you do it frequently, it’s progressively less gross, and if you can see all your food, you’re less likely to waste it.
This doesn’t only apply to the fridge, either. Keep your pantry tidy, your shelves clean, and your storage organized. Label everything– you’ll know exactly what you have in the house, all the time.
It’s really easy to forget what it is that you need. You’re halfway through a stirfry, see that you’re almost out of soy sauce, make a mental note, and promptly forget it by the time you’re dishing out rice. It’s frustrating, and it leads to extra trips to the grocery store– and why would you want to waste time and gas on that?
My solution? Chalkboard paint (great post on making your own here). I painted a small section of my kitchen wall with the stuff, and I haven’t forgotten a condiment, a sauce, or a spice yet. By keeping a running list in the kitchen, I can write down exactly what I need, the moment I realize I need it.
Now, if chalkboard paint isn’t for you, you can still use this method with a dry erase board on the fridge, or just a simple pad of paper next to the stove. Trust me, it’ll change your world.
It’s easy to spend too much on groceries out of convenience– but at the end of the day, it’s not worth it. Why would you pay $4 for strawberries when you could be paying $2 two blocks away? It’s worth the 15 minutes to look up the weekly specials at your local grocery stores. Most come out once a week, and they’re easily found on the store’s website. I only write down the deals I’m interested in, and I keep a running list in my purse, just incase I’m already out and quickly need to grab something. I estimate it saves me anywhere from $50-$100 per month, which really ads up.
If you’re feeling really hardcore, keep an eye on the normal prices at all of your local stores, and make a list of who-has-the-best-price-on-what for quick reference. For example, I know that Coscto has the best prices on eggs and lemon juice, while No Frills has the best prices on canned beans and most produce. So, if you have to run out for a few things, you know where your best option is.
This is something I’ve always done, but it always surprises people. Once you have a grip on everything you need, organize your list in the same order that you’ll walk by it in the store. For me, the order usually breaks down like this: produce first, then fish & meat, then oils & condiments, then baking supplies, then canned goods, then dairy, and finally anything I need in the freezer. It sounds simple, but in minimizes a shocking amount of back-and-forth between the aisles, AND it lets you get in and out of the store faster.
Step 5: Unpack responsibly & thoroughly
This final step makes it easier to eat well once you have all of your groceries home. Put everything away, in it’s place, right away. If you’ve been to Costco, have 37,000 chicken breasts, and are freezing single-portions of them in ziplock bags, do it as soon as you get home. If you’re cutting up fresh fruit & veggies so the kids have an easy after-school snack, do it STAT. If you’ve been to the bulk store and have 87 different baggies of alternative flours and assorted dried fruits, get ’em labeled and into containers pronto. Once it’s done it’s done, and trust me– it makes the rest of the week a lot easier.
Now, I make the effort to go to multiple stores per week (my normal routine is 3 grocery stores, Costco, & the Bulk Barn) because it gives me the best value for my dollar and I’m able to get exactly what I want. But if that isn’t up your alley, you can still make use of all of these tips no matter where your grocery shopping happens. I know it all seems a little finnicky and Stepford-Wife-y, but these little tricks save you money, save you time, and allow you to spend more time making healthy choices, and less time doing this: