Simplify your weekly shopping trip

Some days I love going to the grocery store. If I can leave the kids home with dad, swing by Starbucks on my way in the door, and shop leisurely with a plan in mind of what we’re going to eat this week, it’s really a pleasant experience. As a follow up to my kitchen article, I thought I’d share my “saving grace” plan for the weekly trip to the store…my pre-printed grocery list. I know this may sound obsessive (please recall, I do have a business called Neat Freak!), but it really does make food planning so much easier.

Originally, I saved my hand written grocery lists for about 3 weeks, and I started to see some trends. I realized that about 80% of the items that I purchased were consistent from week to week. So I sat down at my computer and entered in my lists, sorted them into categories, and put them in the same order that they appear in the grocery store. I then added in additional items that I occasionally buy (e.g. olive oil, paper towels, peanut butter, etc.), until I felt like my list was comprehensive. It’s always a work in progress and I still make changes every month or so, but for the most part, it stays the same.

Now, when I sit down on Sunday to plan out our weekly menus and think through what we need, I just go to my list, circle what I need, and I’m all set. I keep 4-5 copies printed out in my kitchen so I always have some ready to use. I stick them to the side of my fridge and as I realize things we’re running low on throughout the week, I just circle them so I don’t forget. Planning is an important part of this process–I have to spend some time each week thinking through our upcoming schedule, sifting through recipes that I may want to prepare, and asking the family what they’re in the mood for. But my pre-printed list makes this super easy–I even added a section on the right hand side to write in the menu for the week. After I finish shopping, I cut this part off and stick it to the fridge so I can remember what’s for dinner.

Do you have an easy way to grocery shop? What keeps you organized with meal planning each week?

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5 Responses to Simplify your weekly shopping trip

  1. Loretta says:

    I have loosely followed pretty much the same weekly menu for several years. It’s relatively healthy and varied, and I’m not stuck to it–if I want to go out with friends or switch up days I do–but it does help to know generally what I’m looking for when I go shopping. Note, I’m a single childless woman, so I have to please only myself!

    I’ve tried a pre-printed list, but my particular word processing software makes it difficult to make the kinds of adjustments you mention, so that’s on hold for now. I do keep a magnetic notepad on the fridge and as soon as I pull the last of something out of the cupboard, it goes on the list. That’s helped a lot.

    Could you say more about your planning time? I read Cooking Light and would like to try some of the recipes, but it’s hard to figure out how to fit it into an existing meal plan as they often call for exotic ingredients that I’ll use only once. And I’m usually not home until 7:00 p.m., so I fall back on the tried and true and don’t-have-to-think-abouts. But I would like to be at least a little more culinarily adventuresome!

  2. perr1ker5h says:

    I’m a big Cooking Light fan myself. In fact, before we moved 3 years ago, I sat down with 5 years worth of Cooking Light and cut out all of my favorites, assembled them into my own CL cookbook (using a 3 ring binder and cheap, magnetic photo pages), and I cook from it almost every week. The planning is key for me. I do this once a week, on Sunday afternoon. It’s part of my “me” time on the weekend. I gather up the family for the first part and we all synch our calendars, talk about upcoming events that may impact or involve food, and I let the kids pick at least one thing to eat each week. Then I go off on my own, surround myself with my Cooking Light cookbook, a few favorite cookbooks, and a few issues of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food (look for it in the checkout aisle of the grocery store…don’t be intimidated by the name Martha–it’s really easy recipes that don’t involve 1000 ingredients). I spend about an hour planning out my menus for the week, and then I’m all set to shop. I supplement my Harris Teeter trip with trips to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, Trader Joes and Whole Foods periodically, but I try to get most of my shopping done in one trip. Hope that helps!

  3. Jackie says:

    I live in CH too (we moved here last year) and I am wondering which Harris Teeter has a Starbucks close by. Though maybe I don’t want to know as I’d probably go in there too often! Do you ever go to the Weaver Street Market? I like to go in there once in a while to find a few things that you can’t get in the other stores. Their baked goods are really good.

  4. perr1ker5h says:

    I go to the HT at University Mall on Estes (Starbucks located inside!). They’re also building a Starbucks at the old gas station in Eastgate (near Trader Joes). Coffee always makes shopping more delightful:)

  5. Jackie says:

    Thanks for the info Perri. I usually go to the HT at Chapel Hill North but maybe I should check out the one at University Mall. When the really warm weather comes it would be nice to sip a nice cold frappucino while I shop.

    I was wondering what they were building at that old gas station. That’ll be nice. I can get a coffee to drink while I shop at TJ’s. It would be nice if they could add more parking there though as it’s already really crowded.

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