You may think it’s funny, but grocery stores are my happy place. I could spend hours wandering the aisles, appreciating and learning about the food on the shelves. But who has hours to grocery shop?
I guess not everyone has the same love affair with groceries that I do. I can understand that, and many of you may not know how to navigate the endless choices that line the aisles and what foods treat your body, mind, and budget well. We all need to eat, which makes buying food a necessity, and that should not be a stressful situation.
A few things you should know about my grocery shopping process:
1. I R A R E L Y M A K E A G R O C E R Y L I S T
Unless there is something I need for a particular recipe or something I absolutely need for the week.
2. I D O N ' T P L A N O U T M Y M E A L S
When I do, I typically end up buying more food than I need and I don’t end up making half of what I planned. My schedule is all over the place too, so sometimes things come up and my dinner plans change. I used to meal prep on Sundays, but it is so time consuming, especially if I don’t even end up eating what I planned.
3. I ' M C O N F I D E N T T H A T I C A N M A K E A M E A L I ' LL E N J O Y E V E N W I T H O U T A P L A N
Because I love grocery shopping and cooking, I have a lot of experience in knowing what kinds of items I need to make a week or more’s worth of meals.
With that being said, here is my routine:
I always start in the produce section, with the exception of Aldi, because I can use the produce I pick up as inspiration for potential meals, which makes me way more likely to eat them. I start by picking one or two different greens, one or two fruit, and and about three vegetables. This is what I like to have for the week, but keep in mind I may not pick up all of these items in the produce section. Depending on season, price, and how I plan to cook something, I may opt for canned or frozen instead. For instance, I usually buy fresh carrots but I’ve found frozen broccoli is usually cheaper and cooks really well. But I’ll scout out what produce I might want while I’m in the produce section and I’ll make a mental note to pick it up later.
From the produce section, I’ll either go up and down each aisle to see if there is something that sparks my interest, or do a perimeter walk stopping down the canned food and freezer aisle. The route I take depends on the kind of shopping I need to do. If it’s a quick trip to replenish the fridge and some key pantry items I’ll stick to the outside, but if I’m running out of staple items, I’ll take on the whole store so I don’t miss anything. Like I said, I’m not great at the list thing.
Everyone has different kitchen staples. Staple items should be things that you use frequently, can be turned into a quick meal, and can be used in a variety of ways. In my pantry, I always have canned tomatoes, canned beans, canned green beans, tuna, crackers, nuts, dried cranberries, pasta, frozen peas, frozen broccoli, carrots, and eggs. With these items I can put together a variety of breakfast, lunch, dinners and snacks. Most of the items can be transformed into an extravagant hot meal or a quick meal with minimal ingredients.
You’re method should be reflective of your time, cooking style, and favorite foods. This can look different for everyone. If you struggle with trying to avoid foods you consider unhealthy, check out my health journey for a perspective on how our health may be reflective of our life season and that's okay. For a more detailed method of actually choosing foods, check out my grocery guide here to see what pantry staples and a weekly haul might look like.