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5 Tips to Grocery Shop Like a Pro

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How to Grocery Shop in 5 Steps
Fridge Bins and Organizer and Tray from Crate and Barrel

Fridge Bins and Organizer and Tray from Crate and Barrel

Photo / Fridge Bins and Organizer and Tray from Crate and Barrel
Grocery shopping is one of those tasks that no family can escape. If you want to eat, someone in the household has got to, at some point, cross the threshold of a grocery store or market. Here's a rundown of how to make this task easier. There are three questions to answer when deciding how to grocery shop:
  1. How often will you go?
  2. How many stores or markets will you shop at?
  3. How will you organize your grocery list?

1. Grocery shop twice a week.

I recommend you shop twice a week to make things easier.
  • Trip # 1: After you've done your meal planning, do your main grocery shopping.
  • Trip # 2: Use this as filler trip to refresh the produce bin and fruit bowl (just as the Kitchen Cupboard Coach recommended in Healthy Meal Planning) . You can also pick up anything you forgot the first time.

Many so-called "experts" will tell you to shop once a month to save time, and then freeze your meals. That's good, essential advice for people who live really far from grocery stores, but those people usually live on or near farms and have access to fresh produce.

The other secret? The more often you go to the store the less time it will take. Here's why:

  1. You'll have a better idea of what's in your refrigerator and pantry, and what's left in the fruit bowl on your counter top.
  2. You'll know the layout of the store better, so no more wandering around wondering why the ketchup and mustard are not in the same aisle.
  3. With less to shop for, you'll be in and out quicker, and can probably use the express line for your second trip.

2. Keep a running grocery list in a high-traffic area.

If you're in a larger household, keep the list where everyone in your home can see it and add to it. I like the fridge for this list-keeping detail, with a writing utensil attached so it can be updated. A great option for storing your grocery list is a basic clipboard. We'll talk more about that in 7 Tools to Grocery Shop.

3. Organize your grocery list.

Put together your grocery list while you are meal planning for the week.

Here's how I do this: Since I'm in a 2-person household that eats out and travels often, I try to make two fresh meals a week, and one-two times a month I make a batch of soup (stew, chili, etc.) or a crock pot meal that keeps well, and I store them in single portion-sized containers in the freezer.

For the two fresh meals, I print out the recipes and use them to make my weekly shopping list. I add in any other staples I eat and drink regularly (coffee, oatmeal, peanut butter, kale, hummus).

I then put my list in a clear plastic folder with the two recipes, coupons, and the recipes of any frozen meal I'm making and I put these in my handbag so they are there when I make my grocery run.

This works so well for me that is has become a habit (as motivational expert Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson said it would in How to Stick to a Daily Routine).

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