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I’m going to try to keep this as short and sweet as possible, but still give y’all the best tips for grocery shopping. To me, grocery shopping is fun and easy. I always get inspired by the produce, I get excited when I see new snacks, and I love to come up with new recipes when I see a new flour I’ve never worked with before. But let’s be real, that’s not how everyone works. For just about anyone else, you want to get in, get what you need, and get the heck out. The grocery store can be an overwhelming place if you don’t know how to shop effectively. Sometimes you go in with a recipe in mind so you have a short list of ingredients. Other times, you’re trying to prep for the week and you’re just lost. What do you want for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? What about snacks, do you want/need them? Fruits, veggies, there are just so many options. And while I could write a whole other blog post about meal prep (and I will soon) this post is just here to help guide you through your grocery store, keep you on track for what you’ll actually want in your fridge, and not drop hundreds of dollars on food that’ll just go bad sitting in the drawer or the back shelf behind the cans. So here’s what I do to make my shopping experience efficient in all the ways possible including time and money.
Disclaimer: this is a basic grocery store haul. This is not everything I get every single week! Sometimes I’ll make an extra stop at larger stores like Costco to get a large bag of granola which can last me three weeks. I also bake a lot so I buy flours, baking goods, and chocolate all the time! These tips and lists are the basics that you’ll want for the week. Sticking to a list like this can save you a little extra money, but you can always modify in any way that fits your lifestyle.
Shop in the order of the grocery store
Typically, in your average grocery store, the fresh produce is first. There are aisles of red tomatoes, crispy greens, and colorful fruits; you could get stuck there for a while trying to decide between spinach or arugula. Whenever I walk into this part of the store, I think: what am I going to want throughout the week to keep me full? Not just for meals, but for the occasional snack like apples after lunch or carrots when you just want something to munch on. So, to start, each week I’ll grab around three different types of fruits. I love having a piece of fruit with breakfast and like I already said, I love a fresh snack. So I just limit myself to three: apples, a bag of grapes, and oranges. And this changes weekly! I try to diversify my fruits every week, but usually I’ll stick to any combination of three fruits. This way, I know exactly what I have and I don’t let anything go bad just sitting out.
Mix up what you buy, but don’t buy too many options!
When it comes to veggies, think about what you like. Personally, I love having a big salad at least once a day. Whether that’s for lunch or dinner, I love a huge salad to give me a burst of nutrients, and I can jam pack it to keep me full. So, I love to grab one box/bag of mixed greens. Arugula is my go to, but there’s spinach, kale, mixes, and so many options! If you’re a salad lover, even just once or twice a week, definitely have one of these on hand! They’re not usually super pricey and they’re the perfect serving size. From there I’ll just grab 3 other kinds of veggies! Just like my fruits, I like to have a variety on hand, but I don’t want to overwhelm my fridge with too many things. I’ll grab one or two cucumbers, a basket of cherry tomatoes, and maybe a couple of peppers. Again, change these up! Sometimes I’ll get a big bag of carrots or large tomatoes to chop into my salads.
Lastly, in this section, make sure you grab the other basics in your fridge. At my house, lemons are a must. We all put them in our water and we love to spice up our salads with a lemony sauce. So I grab about 5 lemons a week! I also eat sweet potatoes like it’s my job, so I grab two to three depending on the size. I meal prep fries or toasts to have on hand during the week, and anything left over can usually last me until the following week. Here you can also grab avocados if you’re an avo lover. Tip for avocados: buy them when they’re hard and keep them on the counter. Over the next couple of days they will continue to ripen. So when they start feeling soft, you can put them in the fridge where they will stay fresh. This way, you know just how ripe your avocados are and you don’t risk brown mushy avocados.
Plan ahead of time, what are you going to want for your meals?
In the order of most stores, you may be coming up on the eggs, milks, cheeses, etc. Keep it simple here as well! If you drink milk in your cereal or need it for your coffee, definitely grab a bottle! I love almond milk because I can’t drink dairy, but it also lasts a while! I don’t go through it that fast, so one bottle can last me two weeks. I also make sure to buy organic brown eggs because I love the big orange yolks and maybe one novelty cheese. Again, I am dairy free, so I have to splurge on my cheese. I love Kite Hill cream cheese, it’s pricey, but worth it for sure. Again, this lasts me about a week and a half in the fridge so I don’t have to buy one a week. If there’s anything else you always eat in a week, grab it! If you love yogurt, go for a larger tub so it lasts longer. I try to think ahead of time what I’ll want for my meals. If I see a tub of yogurt I know I like, I’ll buy it without even thinking. But then the week comes along and I don’t even want yogurt for any meal. So if you plan for that upcoming week that you’ll have bowls of oatmeal, then maybe you don’t need the yogurt, right? If you want to switch it up, grab one of two small containers of your favorite brand so you have something ready if you want it, but you’re not wasting your money on the big container.
Then we get to the meats! This aisle is the easiest part for me. I don’t love meat that much, but I need the protein! So planning ahead here is key! Some weeks I’ll want to make chicken tenders, so I’ll buy a pack of boneless skinless chicken tenders. Other weeks I’ll want to make meatballs so I’ll buy a package of ground chicken or turkey. If you’re planning for the week, keep it simple and easy. What kind of protein are you going to want to have in your fridge to take for lunch or eat when you get home after work for dinner? Don’t overthink or over buy, but if you do, freeze what you don’t need! These meats last way longer in the freezer, so if you buy something extra just freeze it for when you need it.
Don’t get lost in the snack aisle
Now comes the part of the store that most of us forget how to handle ourselves: the snack aisles. There are endless rows of chips, crackers, sweets, and all the goods you could ever want. I could drop a whole monthly check on snacks let’s be real, but to keep myself on track (money wise) I limit myself to one bag of chips or snack pack and one sweet! I’m not a huge chip snacker, but it’s nice to have a bag of chips handy when you want some for dinner with your meal or even an ice cream in the freezer for dessert. Along with these, each week I’ll let myself splurge on a novelty item, something that is more expensive than what I usually buy, but I just really want to try it. I only say to limit one a week because otherwise you’ll find yourself dropping an extra 20 bucks on something you don’t even know for sure that you like.
Like I said before, this isn’t all! I’m not including things like bags of oats or granola for your breakfasts or the little things like seasonings and add ins, but I wanted y’all to have something to start with. Knowing where to start at the grocery store is key to saving your money and not wasting your time wandering around the store. I added a little basics grocery list below if you want to see it listed this way! Hope this helped you in some way Happy shopping!
- 3 apples
- 2 oranges
- 1 basket of berries
- 1 box of mixed greens
- 3 cucumbers
- 1 box of cherry tomatoes
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 5 lemons
- 1 carton of eggs
- 1 almond milk
- 1 cream cheese
- package of raw chicken tenders
- 1 box of Simple Mills crackers
- dairy free ice cream
- something special??