Money & Shopping

Basic Grocery Shopping & Meal Planning Tips

If you’ve never consistently grocery shopped for yourself, it can be difficult to get a hang of it. You might even find yourself going back to the store multiple times in a week because you keep running out of things you didn’t realize you needed to buy more of.

I’m relatively new to the whole consistent grocery shopping thing myself, which is why I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned with you. Although I would occasionally stop by the grocery store for my mom before, I hadn’t ever been in charge of all the grocery shopping. It’s been several months now, and I’ve learned quite a bit in the process.

  1. Make a list, and stick to it. If you don’t have a list with you when you’re at the grocery store, you’ll walk around aimlessly, unsure of what you do or don’t need to buy. You’ll end up getting things that you didn’t need and forgetting things that you ran out of three days ago. The key is to make the list as things run out. Use your phone, since you likely always have it with you. Anytime something runs out or you notice that it will run out, put it on the list. And when you’re at the grocery store, make sure you stick to that list.
  2. Have an idea of what you’ll be eating throughout the week. You don’t necessarily need to plan out every single meal, but it’ll at least help to have a general idea of what kinds of meals you’ll be making. Are you planning on having burritos? Then you better make sure you have tortillas. Do you want to make a specific casserole? Make sure you buy any missing ingredients. Think about this before going to the grocery store. There might be something new that you need to add to the pantry in order to make the meals you’re dreaming up a reality.
  3. When shopping, check the expiration date. Make sure the food you’re buying is going to last you as long as you need it to. Ideally, you want to eventually get to a place where you only need to go to the grocery store once a week. If you buy enough of something to last you throughout that week but it expires tomorrow, that might not end well. Check expiration dates before you place items in your shopping cart.
  4. Clean out your refrigerator about once a week. This will keep mold and unpleasant odors from spreading. Throw out leftovers that have been in the fridge too long, and get rid of anything that expired several weeks ago. Hopefully, if you do this often, this won’t be an issue. The problem is we get used to seeing certain items in the fridge and forget to question if they’re still any good. Make sure to check even items that are meant to last for a while so you don’t get any unfortunate surprises.
  5. Perfect a few recipes so you have some options when you get stuck on what to cook. You don’t have to be a master at everything you cook, but it helps to know how to create a couple quick meals for yourself. Since I was raised by a Mexican mother, I learned from a young age how to make beans and rice pretty well. I’ve learned my mother’s way of preparing these entrees really well over the years. That’s not to say I don’t still occasionally mess up, but these are things I always know I can make. This is why I always make sure to have beans and rice on hand. I’ve also learned to make some other dishes over time that I know now I can easily cook.

These are just a few general tips, but hopefully they’ll help you figure out a grocery shopping routine. Make sure you adjust any tips and tricks you hear about or read based on what works for you. You don’t need to fit someone else’s mold.


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