I know lots of people that stress about going to the grocery store, however I can give you a couple tips that honestly make the journey much less stressful, and actually something you can learn to enjoy!
When I first started in the kitchen, grocery shopping was very daunting for me. How would I know what to get? How much of something should I get? What if the amount of food I pick up won’t last me until the next time I go grocery shopping? What if I can’t afford everything that I want this week?
All those questions were constantly swirling around my head, but the more time I spent in the kitchen getting familiar with what I used most, I started to figure out what I needed and how much of it.
One thing that I’ve realized over time is that it’s important to always have the staples in your house. These are items that you stock up on when they’re on sale or anytime you realize you’re getting low.
- Garlic & Ginger- I ALWAYS have an extra bulb of garlic laying around because I normally use it with every single meal. It is absolutely a staple, and one that doesn’t often go bad.
- Pasta – It’s important to always have extra boxes of pasta in the house. It’s an easy item to cook and great for when you’re running low on food and in need of another grocery haul.
- All Spices – over time I’ve accumulated quite the spice cabinet, but it is definitely not a bad thing. There are some spices that I use with most meals (i.e. salt, pepper, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning), but it is especially nice to have a variety of seasonings so you don’t have to go out and buy an overpriced jar from your local grocery store. TIP: BUY YOUR SPICES FROM RENY’S, OCEAN STATE JOB LOT, OR MARDENS. Often times most of their larger bottles of spices are only 99 cents. This is much cheaper than buying a $2.99 (or more) bottle of McCormick. The spices taste the same and are obviously much cheaper.
- Oil’s – olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil
- Cans of chicken broth
- Jars of pasta sauce
- Heavy cream – I use this more than I think. It goes bad within 2 or so weeks, but mine is always gone before then.
- Freshly shredded parmesan cheese – I use this OFTEN. I would suggest always having some in the fridge.
- Salted Butter
- Condiments – (ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, Caesar dressing, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, Italian dressing, etc.)
- Parsley/Cilantro – I use either one of these for every meal. There’s nothing like a touch of fresh herbs. I actually grow basil, so I don’t normally purchase this one.
I keep quite the pantry, because I don’t like to run out of canned goods. (Right now it’s a bit messy, but I wanted to show you what I normally keep in there). However, one thing that I will never buy is canned vegetables. I personally don’t like them and fresh veggies are just as much if not a little more. I think it’s worth it for both the nutritional value (canned veggies often have a higher sodium content) and the overall quality of the vegetable when they’re done cooking. Some people may say that they can’t afford to stock up and have a pantry, however: I only stock up when I see things on sale. If pasta is on sale, I’ll buy a few boxes, same with soup, condiments, pasta sauce, etc. YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY DO THIS IF YOU SHOP RIGHT!!
Another thing that my parents taught me from a young age was stocking up on meat. I will only buy meat on sale. Chicken breast tends to go on sale probably every month or so. When that happens, I will often buy 2 large packages (6 or 7 breasts come in a package), and when I get home will individually wrap each chicken breast in plastic wrap and freeze them. That way when I want to cook chicken, I can take out however many individual breasts I want and defrost them that way. I do the same with pork cutlets, steak, sausage, and hamburger. With hamburger, I will buy the large package, break them up, and create hamburger sized patties. I’ll individually wrap them and stick in freezer. I found this is the most cost effective way to eat. I will RARELY go to the store and purchase meat that is full price. I won’t do it because I know there’s another much more cost effective option. Currently Connor & I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so there isn’t much room for extra stuff. I can’t wait until we move into a house because one of the first items I’ll purchase is a chest freezer. Not only can you stock up on meat and freeze it, you can do this with many other items i.e. butter, shrimp, bread, ice cream, etc. We just don’t have the room right now.
Typically, I go to the grocery store every two weeks and for me and Connor, it costs about $200 give or take. Before going, I’ll take a look at the weekly flyer and see if they have any good deals. If so, THIS IS HOW I PLAN MY MEALS. I look to see what’s available and I try to roughly plan out our dinner for the next 2 weeks. I get that this could be challenging, but I mean really rough. I’ll think: “do I have stuff for tacos, pasta, what are the veggies I’d like to cook this week, etc.” If you purchase items on sale and build your dinners around that, you’ll be saving a lot more money than deciding what dinners you want to cook and then purchasing those items. I love to bargain shop, but I’m definitely not one of those “doomsday preppers.” There’s a difference between having a back up of something and having a whole other grocery store in your basement!!
I will split my lists up looking a bit like this:
It’s helpful to break your lists up by section so you don’t miss anything! Organization is key! I actually enjoy going to the grocery store by myself. I will often bring my airpods along and listen to music while I shop. It calms me down after work and gives me a little “me time” before heading home.
Comment with ways that you like to grocery shop! I’d love to hear. I hope all this information helps. When I was just starting out, I would’ve loved to read something like this to help me out!