I think by now we’ve established how much I love grocery shopping. Especially at Trader Joe’s.
While I was blessed with this bizarre gift (that has come in handy often in my life, especially when I’m trading favors. Would you believe that some people would actually rather clean a bathroom than spend a romantic evening with T. Joe??) I know many people don’t share my feelings.
And let’s face it- grocery shopping is even less fun when you feel like you got robbed by the cashier. It’s easy to blow a ton of cash at the store without realizing it and later find yourself wondering why you didn’t just run down the street to Potbelly for a tummy-filling sub instead. I find this is especially true when you aren’t cooking for an army of children and things tend to go to waste.
Here are some tips to make your grocery trip worth it!
1. Go with a list. Oldest trick in the book, along with “don’t shop hungry”. It just makes sense, kids. If you’re a man (or woman) with a plan, you won’t be as tempted to load up with impulse buys.
2. Carry a basket instead of rolling with a cart. First of all, I find that this makes me more agile when I’m racing the mom with 4 toddlers for the last jar of peanut butter. Second, you won’t buy as much and you’ll have to actually think about what you’re putting in your basket otherwise you’ll end up schlepping a bunch of extra junk with you.
3. Be choosy. Pick a store that you know has good prices (this is why I love TJ’s- good prices on everything all the time) and once you’re there, don’t just grab the first brands you see. It’s amazing how much brands differ in price for the same product and you can save a lot of $$ if you just look around.
4. Buy only what you crave. This is my all time favorite tip. Don’t go to the grocery store saying “I need broccoli” if you don’t really want it. If you need to fill your green veggie quota and asparagus sounds more appealing that week- buy that instead! I find that having categories of food on my list is more useful that specific varieties because I know whatever I buy will be appealing to me all week long!
That last tip applies to everything but Ezekial bread. Zeke is always on my list. 😉
Once you haul your loot home…
5. Organize the goods. If you throw everything in the fridge/cabinets all slap-dash, it won’t look appealing and I’d bet you $1 that you won’t eat most of it (but not more than $1- homie’s gotta buy her own groceries!). I’d go so far as to suggest that you prep your veggies (wash/trim) when you get that home but I know that might be pushing it.
6. Create your own play book. Like a football coach. You’ll be sure to include all of your players and get the best result. I like to take a quick scan of what I’ve bought and write down any dishes that I could make with what I have. That way, when I come home from work and need dinner I can just check out my list of meal ideas and don’t have to be creative on the spot.
Greek yogurt is always on the list, too. I like me some protein in my yog.
7. Cook it all, baby. The #1 problem I’ve run into being a working girl living on my own is that I’ll make one of the chicken breasts and by the time I want another one they’ve gone bad. Even if you’re only cooking for yourself or yourself +1, make a huge batch of whatever you’re cooking. It’ll last longer that way and will already be ready to eat next time you’re hungry. This is very useful for me since I need to eat approximately every 45 minutes. Just like an infant or teenage boy. This brings me to #8…
8. Use yo’ freezer. After you make said huge batch, package it up in portions and throw it in the freezer. I often forget to do this (because I suck at defrosting. Don’t ask me why.) but it’s awesome to open your freezer when you’re feeling uninspired or lazy and find a great meal you forgot you already made!
Mmm cheese. String, cheddar, parmesan, asiago. All strong reasons why I couldn’t go vegan.
I was going to make that list go to #10 but I was just so eloquent that I did it in 8!
Hopefully you can glean some help from my (insane amount of) experience in grocery shopping. One day grocery shopping might make you feel like this too:
How do you feel about grocery shopping? Do you find it hard to stay on a budget while planning meals?