I know what you’re thinking – this woman has time to organize her grocery shopping? The truth is, I don’t have time not to! I’m sure we’ve all stood in front of a half-full fridge or cabinet and had no ideas on what to make with the ingredients. Then food goes bad because it isn’t used, not a great cycle.
There are a ton of websites out there that will plan your grocery shopping for you, even plan your meals; however, with a few extra minutes each week, you can do all of this yourself, and more!
First, get yourself a weekly meal calendar. I use one and I love it because it has some extra spaces that can be helpful and a huge magnet on the back so that it sticks to the side of the fridge. However, you can easily find free templates online or even make your own. The main point is to be able to plan what you are going to eat that week.
Ideally, if you know your weekly schedule ahead of time, you will know if you have time to cook a big meal or need to eat quickly on a given night. If you have a job like mine, where the schedule is constantly changing, or even if your mood is just constantly changing, you can use the weekly planner as a sort of menu, you’ll know that you have those seven options that week, but food doesn’t necessarily have to be eaten on the specific day.
Once you have planned out what you are going to eat during the week, it’s time to start the grocery shopping list. Before you write the actual items, lay out the list in the way you attack the grocery store. This will minimize the time you spend in the store and potentially balance out the time you spend organizing your list!
My layout is: dry foods (center aisles), fruits and veggies, seafood, meats, and dairy. Typically, you’ll want your refrigerated foods to be last on your list to minimize the amount of time they are unrefrigerated while in your cart, car, etc. Follow the layout of your store for the refrigerated items.
Okay, weekly menu is made, list is laid out, time to add your ingredients! This is best done in your kitchen where you can see the ingredients you already have available. Go through your weekly plan and write the ingredients you need for each meal (that you don’t currently have) directly into your organized list. For ideas on how to easily recall all ingredients needed for a dish, check out my Menu.
This is also a really good time to check your expiration dates and your produce to get rid of anything that has gone bad. Not only will you clear out space for the new items, but you’ll also make sure none of the items on your ingredient list end up being expired when you go to use them.
Once all of your ingredients are written on the list in the appropriate sections, you’re ready to go shopping!