I’ve done quite a bit of research around meal planning and to be completely honest, it is all just too much in my opinion. I think that meal planning is something that is pretty simple but I think it may seem simple to me because we don’t try to over-complicate it. At one point, we tried doing meal-prep but it took up the entire day Sunday and left both of us feeling frustrated and burned out. Below I’ve listed the 6 things we do to have a successful and non-stressful shopping trip.
Grocery List on our Phones
With the update to the notes app on the iPhone you can now put checklists and check them off as you go. Before the update, we were listing them in the notes and then deleting each item as we put it in the cart, which wasn’t ideal. Having the list on our phones makes it simple to add things we might have forgotten, leave items on the list in case we need to get it elsewhere and we can send it to each other if we can’t make it to the store.
Create List Together Before Shopping
My husband and I like to sit together and go through what should be on the list before we leave the house. We don’t make it a formal time or anything, we just know at some point during the weekend we are going to go to the store so when there is a lull in activities we put the list together. Creating the list together ensures that we don’t miss anything that the other person might have noticed like a specific type of medicine or a snack that only one person eats.
The List is Based on What We Already Have
Instead of running through a list of things we would like to eat for dinner we go through the fridge and pantry to review what we already have. For instance, if we already have a pound of ground beef and a box of Hamburger Helper then that is one thing we are eating for dinner. We also look at what soups and canned lunch items like raviolis we have before buying new ones. If we have 6 cans of soup then we won’t buy any soup, raviolis, or other lunch items. It’s a very loosely based FIFO (First In, First Out) process. Doing this will help to prevent things from going bad and cut back on needless spending and restocking of items you already have. This shouldn’t take a ton of time and is something we go through quickly.
[Quick Tip: My husband likes to group the items together so that when we go through the store we do it as quickly and efficiently as possible]
Don’t Go Shopping Hungry
I know this is something that everyone knows but it’s something that we didn’t always follow. Not only would we impulse buy based on what we were hungry for but we would stop by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory located next door to our HEB (Texas Grocery Chain) and spend at least $25 on chocolate items. Going into the store to pick-up lunches and dinners to end up walking out with a cheesecake sampler, 2 gallons of Blue Bell Ice Cream, Beef Jerky sticks and other items isn’t exactly budget friendly. So now, we always eat before we shop whether that is eating breakfast at home before we go or grabbing a small lunch somewhere on the way. In the end it always ends up saving us money and cutting down on the time we spend at the store.
Only Go Once a Week
There are some bloggers who suggest you go grocery shopping every 3 days. I don’t know anyone who has the time to spend an hour and a half every couple of days fighting through the crowds of jerks at the grocery store. This is where limiting your visits to once a week comes in handy. We put together a list of EVERYTHING we could need for the week and go pick all of it up at once. This does mean a little more time in the store but it is much better than trying to hype yourself up for a mid-week trip. Now there are times when we run out of things like milk or bread and when this happens, we have the luxury of going to the local meat market that is less than 10 minutes away. The prices aren’t that much different from the grocery store and we don’t have to fight crowds to pick the items up.
Treat Yo’ Self
This is something that not everyone is going to be able to do, especially if your grocery budget is incredibly tight but we like to treat ourselves with something small at the end of the trip. I always get the 50-cent lemon-lime soda that is the HEB brand at the checkout. It makes me feel accomplished and isn’t a chocolate bar that I would chomp down in 2 minutes. I’ll typically end up sipping on it for the rest of the day so it is a treat that actually lasts. My husband will sometimes grab a candy bar to eat after we have unloaded all of the groceries. It’s such a small thing but it can really help to change your mood if a small child has consistently rammed you in the heels 50 times in the course of the past 10 minutes.
As I’ve said before, I’m not an expert by any means but after seeing some of the crazy-long processes of how you are “supposed” to grocery shop I thought I would throw out our basic and non-complicated way of doing things.
I’d love to know how you plan your grocery trips, what you do to meal plan and if you find more success sitting down and mapping it all out.
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