Let’s go grocery shopping!

A few weeks back I made a list of topics I’d like to blog about. One of them is showing how I plan out my week.

I like to plan out all my workouts in advance. It not only gives me a preview of what my week will look like and what I will or won’t have extra time for.

I also like to pre-plan dinners for the week. This has been the most challenging part of living on my own – groceries can get very expensive very quickly if I’m not careful!

Matt and I have a magnetic notepad on the fridge where we keep a running list of things we need from the store – things we’re running low on or running out of. Oftentimes staple household items end up on here, too (light bulbs, shampoo, dish soap, etc.). We don’t have loads of extra storage so I try not to buy more than what we need of these kinds of items.

I also like to take an hour or so on Saturday or Sunday morning to plan out dinners and then create a grocery list. Here’s how I roll:

  • cookbooks and other recipes I’ve been eyeing
  • weekly grocery store ads from the paper
  • running grocery list (staple items we need)
  • notebook
  • coffee or other beverage of choice

I sit down at the table with all these things in front of me. Then I go through the grocery store flyers to see what’s on sale that I need (or may want). I usually look for good prices on meat, dairy, and canned/jarred goods. Produce doesn’t seem to fluctuate in price too much around here for things that are in season.

After I circle (or make a list of) the sale items I’d like to purchase, I go through the cookbooks and recipes and see what I’d like to make that uses the items I have or that are on sale. As far as meals, I like to go vegetarian at least one night (meat is expensive yo!) and do something a bit more indulgent one night as well. I also compare my evening schedule to Matt’s – he has at least one evening meeting a week, but sometimes more. On nights that he won’t be home for dinner I usually plan to just eat something quick and light, or eat leftovers.  We also go out to eat once or twice a week.  I hate eating out too much, because it’s not only less healthy than I’d cook at home but it gets expensive pretty quickly.  I try to save by using coupons and going on days when they’re running specials.

I also take any suggestions from Matt into consideration – he’ll eat pretty much anything I cook and does like to eat healthier, but he does like his meaty, cheesy, carby meals too. And anything with the word “buffalo.”

As I choose recipes I write down in my notebook the title, page number, and cookbook/magazine it’s in. I also write down a list of any ingredients I may need to purchase.

After that is done, I then go write an itemized grocery list – separating produce, meat, dairy, freezer, etc. into categories. This makes shopping much more efficient – I just make sure I get everything I need while I’m in each section of the store.  It also keeps me from buying impulse (and bad for me) items and makes it a lot harder to forget items. There’s nothing I hate more than getting home from a grocery trip just to realize I forgot something on my list.

One thing I am really bad about doing is cleaning out my refrigerator.  Matt and I are pretty good about eating any leftovers, but once in a while there is a container of vegetables or some veggies or meat in the drawers that have gone too long. (Another reason I like to pre-plan and write a detailed list is to avoid buying too much food and throwing it away.)

We don’t really have a budget for groceries but usually spend about 70-80 a week. I’m trying to get this down if I can, and that’s where precise planning comes in.

Oh, Matt also has a Sam’s club membership (shared with his sister). We’ve only been members for about a month, so I don’t know exactly how this will play into the budget. But it does help save on meat and frozen/bulk foods.

I’m still working on perfecting the system and trying to find a way to reduce the amount of time it takes me to plan out meals.  But it’s better than just buying what looks good and not having a plan at dinnertime.

Do you have anything that you uber-plan for?

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