Anyone who knows me will hear me complain on a regular basis about the daunting and unending job of grocery shopping. UGH! It is the one thing that makes me wish I could duplicate myself and send my clone out on my behalf. But it’s also one of the few things I can’t successfully delegate, and that’s saying a lot because I’m a master delegator when it comes to most things!
Grocery shopping, however, is a delicate matter. Anytime I send the hubby, we end up with a mountain of junk food, and if I send a kid, they either come home with the wrong things or I end up fielding a dozen phone calls.
But a few weeks ago something happened that made me appreciate the whole grocery process just a little more.
I was in the grocery store with my huge (and dreaded) list of shopping items when a woman approached me and asked, “Does that really help?”
At first, I wasn’t sure what she meant. “My shopping list?” I asked her.
“Yes. Does it really help to write it all down like that?”
It was in that moment that I realized that although I dread the entire grocery process, it really does help to keep a major part of my life under control. So with complete confidence and a restored hopefulness, I replied with an emphatic, “YES!” She then asked me how I did it, and of course, I obliged.
After that encounter, I thought that my system might be worth sharing. Jenni and I both use a similar system for our two families, which tells me this process is scalable (she has double the household size). As I began putting my experience into words, I did a little research and found out that in spite of my dread, my grocery store process is money saving, stress reducing and contributes to our family’s overall well being!
Save Money and Reduce Stress
Did you know that just by having a grocery list you can reduce your food expense by 20-25%? And having a list reduces the likelihood of impulse buying and making poor, last-minute food choices. It also reduces stress because you have the confidence that you’re working from an organized plan and have removed the guesswork. And making the list at home will most likely cause the people in your house to offer input on the dinner choices, making everyone happy.
Take a look at what this article by Lisa Rapaport in the HuffingtonPost.com had to say:
“Heading to the grocery store armed with a list may make it easier to follow a healthy diet, a study of shoppers in Pittsburgh suggests. Researchers surveyed more than 1,300 mostly overweight and obese residents in two poor, primarily African American communities and found that shoppers who regularly made grocery lists also made higher quality food choices and had lower body weights.
“‘We don’t know whether people who are healthier pay more attention to what they eat and pay more attention to their weight and are also people who do more planning, or if people who do more planning are more able to avoid impulse purchases and the less healthy options presented to them at the supermarket,’ lead study author Tamara Dubowitz said.”
The J & J Grocery Way
So here it is. I hope you find some cool new ideas for your family’s grocery experience!
1. Clean Fridge and Pantry
Right out of the gate, strip the frig and pantry of expired food and items that will most likely not get eaten. Wipe down those dirty shelves, and organize what’s left. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate for the new week.
2. List Needed Items
Keep a notebook and pen nearby and make a list of any items you are getting low on as you clean and sort through the fridge and pantry.
3. Calendar Check
Get out your calendar and identify the days that you need a quick meal and days that you’ll have time to put into a more labor intensive meal.
4. Identify Meals
Go through your recipe book and identify quick meals, crockpot meals and time consuming meals.
5. Schedule Meals
Meal plan according to schedule. If you’re gone all day, plan to crockpot that night. If you’re able to be home an hour before dinner, choose a quick meal and if you’re home and free that day, make your time consuming favorite.
6. List Ingredients
Write down ingredients for each recipe (don’t forget to convert according to family size). Quick tip: When you list things that you will need in large quantities (eggs, zucchini, tomatoes, bananas, etc.) count with tally marks as you go through each recipe. Then go back and write your final count when you’re done picking recipes.
7. Create Checklist
Make a separate list for you to “check the pantry/fridge” to see if you are out of or getting low on an item (salt, mayo, canned tomatoes, etc.).
8. Store List
Create a page for each store you will need to go to. Ours looks something like this: a separate page for each Walmart, Sams, health food store, Aldi, and any miscellaneous stores like a drugstore or beauty supply store.
9. Group List
Create groupings under each store for produce items, freezer section, pharmacy, toiletries, etc. and put groupings in order of the sections of store. For example, I like to start at the front of the store and work my way toward the back. That way if I forgot something, I’ll pick it up as I head the check out. I am known to overlook a thing or two.
Go through your coupons. Paperclip coupons according to each store, and put them in an envelope for safe keeping. Write on the outside of the envelope the store name and a quick reminder of which items you have coupons for. It just gives you a quick and easy reference.
11. Shopping Order
Determine the order in which you will visit each store and number each store accordingly. When determining our order, consider:
- Store location
- Frozen /refrigerated items (be sure to pack your shopping freezer bags)
- Hours store opens/closes
- Any quick errands to check off in between stores (post office, bank, cleaners, etc.)
First, text/call all your little “trunk bots” before leaving your last stop and give them an ETA so they can be ready to unload your treasures. As soon as you get in the door have your littles help you unload and then assign each kiddo a job.
For example, one kid might cut and wash all lettuce, carrots, celery, fruit, etc. Another might put chopped veggies into individual snack bags and store in fridge crisper drawer for quick grab-n-go snacks. And another might wash and spin lettuce and store in an extra large ziplock with paper towel so it’s ready to go when you need to make a salad.
Prepping food right after the grocery store trip can save time during the week. Look through your recipes. If you have a dinner meal that requires lots of chopped veggies. Consider having helpers do that when you get home from the store, and then storing in a bag or container labeled with the name of the recipe and the day you plan to make it.
13. Post the Weekly Menu
Be sure to hang your weekly scheduled menu inside the pantry door (or another convenient spot) with copies of the recipes attached. This way you can assign a kiddo or hubby to take over the cooking if need be.
Here’s the deal, it may take longer to do it this way on the front end, but when all is said and done, you will be more organized, save time (less trips to store, less gas, etc.), have an organized menu for your family, experience less chaos at dinner time and most likely be choosing healthier options for your family due to the awesome pre-planning.
Drop us a line and let us know if you have any tricks or tips to add.