Let’s talk Food Shopping. Being a dietitian and foodie, it’s safe to say I enjoy the grocery store more than most. However, I’m not dying to get there at the end of a long day. Fighting traffic to stand in line and buy ingredients for a dinner that I have to go home and cook? Eh… I’m more of the cruise-through-Trader-Joe’s-on-a-Saturday kind of girl. Post breakfast. With a latte. Perusing for items to spruce up the weekend in this scenario is a much better scene.
Awhile back, I realized how much time I wasted trekking to the store and how much money I wasted on impulse buys. I decided to change my ways.
I’m amazed (and proud!) to report that the changes I made actually stuck. They’ve helped me to become a more efficient shopper. Naturally, I’m dying to share the tips with you.
For the shopper who has a family of 6 and frequents BJ’s, feel free to skim this post, you probably have me beat. But for anyone who tends to share some of my previous habits, here we go:
Find the most affordable store for a routine stock-up. For me, it’s MARKET BASKET, baby. I show up there with my list of everyday essentials every 2 weeks or so, ready to roll.
Know what’s in your fridge. Ever get to the store and grab a gallon of milk to learn you have a full gallon as soon as you’re back home? Story of my life. My sister Noelle (the best planner in my fam) shared her Staple Food List with me. It’s a Word doc. she prints out and leaves on the counter. It helps her keep track of those everyday essentials and she checks them off when she’s out. Genius!
A few of my Staple Foods that make the list:
>> Frozen blueberries
>> Peanut butter
Don’t shop hungry. I repeat, DON’T. SHOP. HUNGRY. If I have to go after work, I stop and acknowledge that I will, in fact, be starving. So, I’m a big fan of grabbing a siggi’s drinkable yogurt to sip and shop or a little bag of peanuts to crunch on. It beats the bag of chips that look mouth-watering, and end up open/half-eaten on the drive home. And it definitely beats the frozen pizza that can be tossed in the oven and eaten ASAP when you get back home.
Utilize the freezer. When I shop, I tend to buy a TON of:
>> Protein: Chicken, shrimp, some steak/beef… whatever is on sale. I like to keep my freezer stocked because it’s easy! Pull something out in the morning, and it’s defrosted and ready to go for dinner by the time I get home!
>> Frozen veggies. I have a whole new appreciation for them. I love a good, crisp, fresh veg, but the frozen ones do capture all of the nutrition. And they let me stay out of the store throughout the week. I love Green Giant’s riced broccoli. Another fave are the Birdseye mixes, they’re perfect for stir-fry or a soup.
Pack the pantry. These items are great because they won’t expire quickly. Glorious! I add quinoa, rice, oats, diced tomatoes and beans to my list as soon as I’m running low. And obviously semi-sweet chocolate chips are a must-have on my inventory.
Anticipate the urge for a treat. I’ve learned to keep a few treats in the freezer, because Joe and I are looking for something indulgent on Sunday nights. This usually leads us to one of two ideas: hit up Stop & Shop, where we toss all our cravings into the cart, or, calling up Acapulco’s for takeout.
A few of my plan-ahead treats:
>> Perdue chicken tenders
>> Alexia fries
>> Cauliflower tots
>> Pork potstickers
>> Tzatziki / falafel / pita
Some tasty recipes that use those freezer/bulk buy items: