LEAN FOR 2016: GROCERY SHOPPING
Today I want to talk about making your grocery shopping more efficient. Becoming "lean" in your life doesn't mean to completely minimize what you buy but it's more about being organized with your purchases. I find this to be a bit tricky because I want to have some food stored away in case of an emergency, but if not careful, a food storage closet can become an unorganized pile of cans of tuna and sauerkraut. Now, I know a lot of people use the stockpiling approach to grocery shopping- buying in bulk, and it works for them. The benefits to that is that there is always a selection of food in your home. And you never run of juice boxes and have to run out to the store midweek. Sometimes people can use coupons or save money this way. This approach has never worked with me and I'll tell you why. I love to cook with fresh produce and this requires I go to the store more frequently. I have also never found the economic value in buying such large quantities. Mostly because they have so few options of brands to choose from so I end up buying a brand that's not my favorite. So I now just shop at a normal grocery store and sometimes a specialty produce store. On a typical week I go to the store once with a shopping list in hand with all of my meals planned out. I check my pantry before I go to see what exactly I will need to make it through the week. So by the end of the week my cupboards look pretty sparse. But the less food there is around-the less food I am tempted to eat :) I have a food budget that I stick to for each week. Otherwise, we all know I would be in the store everyday buying tons of junk food I don't need. Now, these aren't tips for how to save money necessarily, because I like to buy organic meats and fresh from the farm milk and a lot of fresh produce that sometimes can cost a little more money. Instead, these are tips for how to make the overall experience more organized and cut down on wasted time and wasted food.
- Join an online subscription program. This is a great way to regulate your spending and keep it consistent. I used Amazon for several years but have now switched to Target because I think they have a better selection of brands. I like my Tide Free and Clear detergent okay people! :)
- Make a shopping list and stick to it. I know that's so hard sometimes but just make sure you write "treats" on your list so when you do buy them at least they're accounted for when you first go to the store. If you are hoping to stock up a little, pick one or two things to add to you pantry-then make sure they end up in your pantry and not your weekly food areas.
- Check your pantry and refrigerator before you make your list. This will help cut down on duplicates.
- Create a designated food storage area. This could be a cupboard or pantry. In our last house it was a room in the basement. This is where food goes to be stored like extra ketchup or cans of beans.
- Clean your refrigerator regularly. This could be weekly or twice a month. By doing this, not only will you cut down on spoiled or rotten food, it will give you a clear look at the food you do and don't have.
- Prepare meals suitable for your family-not for your family AND everyone who lives on your block. I am not a fan of leftovers so I prepare portions that are small. Depending on how my husband or kids like the meal I will make a little extra for their lunch. But for 99% of our meals I make enough for that one meal. It also cuts down on us overeating. We have noticed if we make 6 hamburgers and there are 5 of us-we will eat the extra hamburger-even if we're not really that hungry but because it's there.
- Plan meals that have overlapping ingredients. If I need cilantro for a meal I usually try to find another meal that uses cilantro-mainly because I never use that much and it goes bad quickly.
- Don't plan too many meals you or your kids may not like. I usually test out one new meal a week-if I do any more than that, I am leaving myself open to having a lot of extra food if my kids don't like the meal. It's always good to try new things-in moderation.
- Donate to food pantries. Somehow I always manage to get food in my pantry that no one will eat. Instead of letting it sit there for months and months, donate un perishable food to food pantries.
Hope those tips help! Happy grocery shopping ;)