Grocery Shopping Tips

Lately, I have been trying to streamline my grocery shopping experience, from making the list to putting the food away. I have written before that I am notorious for going ‘off the list’ at the store. So my first goal is to make my lists as short as possible. This will serve a couple of purposes:

-The less time that I am in the store, the less chance I have to go ‘off the list’!

-If I have shorter lists, that means I’m making good use of the food I already have. If I am using up all of the food I have, then I am throwing less food away, thus saving money.

Ultimately I plan to have one of those cute pre-printed grocery lists which separates the food by category and makes it easier to shop. However, right now I’m working to use up some of the five thousand little notepads I have somehow managed to acquire. Seriously, the other day I found a stack of index cards, and I probably haven’t actually purchased this type of thing since making flash cards in high school. Yet, there are still stacks of them around my house. So I am using up all of those misc pieces of paper to make my lists for groceries, to-do, etc.

I also have a couple cute notepads with magnets on the back, so that is what I am currently working my way through. One is stuck to my fridge right now so it’s super easy to add items to a grocery list as I think of them. And it’s right above my Cleaning Schedule, so I’m looking at both items everyday! (please ignore the picture quality, this was a last minute photo for the post!)

My meal planning leaves something to be desired (as do my eating habits), but I’m working on it. Hopefully soon I will have posts of amazingly creative menu boards and cookbooks, filled with recipes that are at once delicious and healthy. Um…yeah….

So when I’m at the store, I use some pretty standard tricks:

-Start at the back. Get the cold stuff last. Pretty simple.

One other trick that works for me is taking my 9 month old. I put his car seat thing in the back of the grocery cart so I can’t really overdo on the purchasing, there’s just no room!

Truth be told, I love grocery shopping, I could actually stay in the store for 3 hours just looking at everything. It’s funny since I absolutely HATE to shop for pretty much anything else. It’s also funny because I’m not a great cook and don’t have a ton of recipes. Anyways, try as I might to stay on list and get through quick, it just doesn’t happen very often.

So most of my grocery organizing is actually done after I get home. I spend a decent amount of time putting away the groceries. Here’s the system:

-Take everything out of the bags and put all of the bags away.

-As I take the items out, I group them on the counter by : Fridge, Freezer, Pantry or other. This makes actually putting the food away go a little more quickly. Also, if the food is grouped, I only have to open the fridge and freezer one time instead of opening and closing the doors. It just makes life easier.

-Then I put away the freezer items first because….that makes sense. Also, we live 1/2 hour from the closest grocery store of any decent size and things are melting into piles of goop by the time I get home.

-Then I do the fridge items. Here is where I probably spend the most time. I try to buy a decent number of fruits and veggies, but if they are shoved away in that glorious little crisper drawer, they get forgotten until they crisp away into their expiration date. So I try to wash everything and if I can, give it a front and center place in the fridge. Here are two examples:

Grapes and carrots….love them! The kids love them! The husband loves them! But if they are in the drawer, they might as well have stayed at the store. So I wash them and put them in Tupperware. For the grapes, I also pull each and every grape off of the stem. This makes them easy to grab for snacks. So here is how we store them:

As I put stuff in the fridge, I try to wipe down each shelf a little. It’s the best time to do it because the fridge is most empty right before I fill it with groceries. It also ensures our fridge stays pretty cleaned out.

When it comes to the pantry items, they are pretty easy to put away because of the bins in my pantry. Everything has a designated spot so there’s no question as to where it goes. I do have several things I do to make things easier for when I’m actually using the food.

-We buy the 4 packs of the fruit cups for our oldest son so I take them out of the package so they are easy to grab.

-If I buy something like granola bars, I open the package and either fold in or tear off the top. So my son’s snacks go from this:

to this:

I find that when the groceries are organized, it so much easier to prepare food, find what you’re looking for and see what you are running out of. Also, my kids have inherited the gene from me that tells your body if you are hungry, you must go immediately from a super sweet angel into a crazy, screaming, get-me food-now-or-my-head-will-explode kind of tantrum. So it benefits me to be able to get them food quick and keep them looking like this:

So for now I will be content with my post-grocery shopping organizing techniques while I work on the meal planning. I will keep you posted!

~Erin

10 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping Tips

  1. I am constantly tweaking my grocery lists/menu plans – mostly because we are really cutting down in this expense (we are moving next year and are currently paying down all extra bills). So for me, the weekly food/household stuff has to come in under $100.00. It’s a work in progress!
    I love how you organize your snacks! That is awesome, and I think it would save me lots of cupboard space.

    • I think that’s amazing that you can do $100 a week. We try for $150 and usually go a little over but we have a smaller household than you. I’m so inspired!!! I love the snack bins too. It makes it so easy, especially for in laws, babysitters, etc.

  2. I totally hear you about going “off list”…so dangerous! I used to love strolling the aisles too…but now with a little one there just isn’t time. I actually made a Grocery Shopping Spreadsheet, which has a column for each aisle in my local grocery store along with a heading on what is in that aisle and a place for me to write all the things I need. When I write out my list I put what I need in the appropriate column. It’s a total time saver…or at least I think it is! You can check out my post about it here (http://cobwebscupcakesandcrayons.com/2012/06/25/please-keep-your-hands-inside-the-cart-at-all-times/) and print out the spreadsheet to customize for your local shop. (Which by the way I can’t believe is a HALF HOUR away!) I LOVE the labeled bins in your pantry. What a great idea!! I might have to steal that one :) -Kelly

    P.S. I have the same “hunger gene” :)

    • You are the best! I can’t believe I missed this post of yours. I’m kind of in love with spreadsheets. And I love grocery shopping. So a grocery shopping spreadsheet makes me ridiculously happy (and probably a little crazy). My ultimate plan was to do something just like this after I got rid of all my scrap paper, but now you’ve made the process so much easier. Thank you! I like the labels too. I smile every time I look at them, even though I”m sure no one else even notices they are there :)

  3. Erin… this was an awesome article! i am so impressed with the system you have created from start to finish during the grocery shopping process. My favourite tip is that you put your 9 month old in the grocery cart with the groceries so you don’t load the cart up too much. I am chuckling as I try to make an mental picture of what that looks like. My other favourite tip is how you repackage the fruits and veggies and the packaged snacks when you put your groceries away so they are easily accessible.

  4. Erin, I love your blogs. You are giving me some GREAT ideas! Today was my first day back from vacation. I unpacked AND went grocery shopping. The best part was organizing my refrigerator when we got home. You are so right about wasting food that gets shoved in the crisper drawer or tucked away. All my fruits and veggies are cleaned and organized in my Tupperware, easy to get for a healthy snack. We are all trying to eat a little healthier and this is going to help so much by making is easier to grab those healthy snacks that I placed front and center!

    Diana :)

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