The Simple Step: Less Grocery Shopping

The fact is I do not enjoy grocery shopping.

I don’t mind the meal planning or making an exorbitantly detailed list for my husband, who – God bless him – shops for us, even it means navigating the ‘suitable substitution pop quiz portion’ of the shopping.
I do dislike having to shop every week (sometimes more). All the packing and unpacking. All the readjusting meal plans around the mystery ‘substituted’ food item’.
So when we brought in this new year with the plan to budget our butts off, we thought a monthly grocery shop to the big city would save us time and money.  After reading up on monthly shops (doing all your shopping at once to last for the whole month!) it seemed pretty daunting and we thought a two-week shop seemed like a better place to start out.

In the past our frequent small trips to the store usually cost more than we intended. Though I’m sure we aren’t the only ones who go in for apples and bread and come out with a giant wheel of half priced brie, nachos and mango juice. Not to mention it somehow took at least an hour every single trip.

The other bonus of doing this two-week shop is we can coordinate it with my Conor’s week on/week off shift work. This means we run out of food during Conor’s set home, and restock before he goes back to work which works better than the opposite (code, I will black box challenge to the death to avoid grocery shopping alone with three small kids!).

grocery shopping tips, meal planning, grocery planning, two week, grocery tips, shopping tips, how to make a grocery listWhen Conor is home we plan a trip to ‘the city’ for appointments or to visit family and incorporate a grocery shop in the mix. At this point we bring all three kids in, two carts and divide and conquer the list. I’d like to say this is a ‘simple’ thing, but it usually ends up in one of our children laying starfished on the produce aisle floor and me getting that ‘if one more person bites a red pepper and I have to add it to my cart, I’m gonna snap and turn this cart around‘ look in my eyes. I foresee the future including me and my mom bestie making the trip to the city together for our shopping day (cause she’s on board with the two-week shop too).

Almost four months in, we are still doing the two-week shop and we are actually following a grocery budget for the first time….. ever (more on this to come). It’s been great! Aside from a minor disagreement on how many vegetarian meals a man can take before he pulls some chicken out of the freezer thereby derailing your future meals plans for said chicken. And maybe giving you some new marriage insight that goes something like: just let the man eat chicken.

Here are some things that are making the two-week shop work for us:
  • MEAL PLAN || I love lists. I’ve made a few different ones around meal plan ideas, lists on paper and in the awesome MealBoard App. One list is organized by main ingredient (e.g. chicken meals, bean meals, etc.). Then there is ‘meal types’ (e.g. make ahead, slow cooker, snacks, etc). I also have lists of ‘cheap’ meals so I can be sure to add them into our plan and help keep our budget lower.
  • TAKE STOCK || Before I make a meal plan for the two weeks I write down EVERYthing we have in the pantries, freezers and fridge. Our cupboards are full of money we’ve already spent and forgot about. Gotta use this stuff up!
  • PLAN TO RUN OUT || Oh? Another list? Yup,  I have a list of meals sorted by beginning of the two-weeks to end of the two-weeks. They range from using the fresh ingredients first to meals I can make near the end of the two weeks with more ingredients from the pantry and freezer. We’ve learned a lot about meals we can make with what we have on hand in the freezer and pantry. I even try to challenge myself at the end of the two weeks to see if I can push it a few more days or before Conor begins to waste away from lack of protein.
  • EAT LESS || It sounds simple, but I’m a slow learner, and a gluttonous consumer. We have had to learn to pay attention to how much we are eating. At first it felt like I was on constant ration patrol of our fresh ingredients (yes, I will arm wrestle you if you add more red pepper to your omelet dear). As we’ve been intentionally eating less and not cramming all the awesomeness (cheese, bacon, more cheese) we can into singular meals it has been easier to make everything last two weeks and never feel like we are ‘going without’. First world problem, I’m well aware.
Are there any ways you make grocery shopping simpler?

…..and then one time I was out doing my two-week shop at Costco and I (finally) met the lovely Sarah who is doing the Simple on Purpose series with me! Check her out at Sarah on Purpose!

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