First off, I'd just like to say welcome to so many of the new subscribers to my blog. Hoping that you find some useful information here to help you save yourself some time, money and energy.
Meal planning and food ideas are the number one topic that a lot of people want to know more about (including myself). Since meal planning is a bit of an art form, I'm just going to focus on grocery shopping here. I know this is more than 3-4 tips – my standard format, but I feel like these are worth mentioning. What's for dinner? Don't worry, we are all trying to answer that question.
>> Never shop without a list. Meal planning and grocery shopping go hand in hand. So before going grocery shopping you should have an idea of what you want to eat for the week. Unless you live right next door to the store and can pick up food every night on your way home – which is very European and not very practical for me, but sounds lovely. Before you go to the store, sit down with your recipe book, cook books, magazines, Pinterest or whatever inspires you. I've compiled a list of my favorites ideas and recipes over time, stored in one reference book at home. (More sharing of meal ideas to come in a future post). The website epicurious is super helpful if you just have some ingredients (maybe from your garden) but don't know what to make with them. A list keeps you focused and will help you remember to buy what you need. It is totally allowed to shop off the list, as long as you don't go crazy.
>> Try a new app or some kind of technology to enhance your experience. I'm really excited about this new app my friend told me about called AnyList. The best part is that my husband and I can both add things we need and then the other person's list is automatically updated. Plus you can cross things off the list as you go which is really satisfying for me. No worries if you are not into apps, obviously paper works great or any other way you prefer to make a list. Here are a few more list ideas on my Pinterest board. Note: technology may be another way to help you keep track of coupons. Because I have a hard time clipping, remembering to bring them with me and then remembering to give them to the person at the check out (grrr!) I am going to skip coupons for now. But they can be a good way to save money.
>> Keep it simple. You want to make sure you actually have the ingredients you need to make food when you get home and not just a week's worth of snacks. Pick something new and simple for the weekday. Then something a little more complex for one night on the weekend when you probably have more time. Don't over plan as it will be hard to cook something new every night of the week. Yes, fruit salad counts as cooking.
>> Double check ingredients. You might already have some of the things you'll need, so check your (newly organized?) pantry before going to the store.
>> Keep it fresh. Consider buying food that is seasonal so you'll have more variety, it will be cheaper and taste even better. If you know you're making a recipe that calls for a lot of perishable ingredients toward the end of the week, consider going shopping on your way home that night or the night before so everything is as fresh as possible. If you buy everything you need at the beginning of the week, it might go bad by the time you are ready to make it. You can re-watch the strawberry video if you like here.
>> Reuse it. Using a reusable shopping bag is really the way to roll. Although this took a lot of time for me to convert and some convincing from a friend of mine – it is totally worth it. They are inexpensive, save the environment and most of the time have more durable handles so you can really pack them full at the store. Some stores will also give you a small discount for using your own bags to save you even more money. The key is keeping them in the trunk of your car, so even if you stop unexpectedly at the store, you can always pull them out without having to remember where you put them.
>> Contrary to popular opinion. I know we have all read that you really should not go grocery shopping when you are hungry. This tip may back fire for you, but I find that going when I am hungry really helps me pick out food that sounds exciting and delicious. If I'm too full, nothing really looks good and it becomes more of a chore. Regardless, if you mostly shop off your list, you should be covered.
Let me know if you tried any of these grocery shopping tips and how they may have worked for you. Thanks!