How to Simplify your Food Shopping

How to Simplify your Food Shopping


Buy only what you can carry.

Always go with a list.

Plan out a weekly menu.

Don’t go when you’re hungry.

Have a budget.

Keep a list on your fridge, and write things down immediately.

Make a pantry checklist. Make a checklist of everything you normally stock in your pantry. Keep it posted on the pantry. Put a slash next to each item for the number of items you have (if you have two cans of stewed tomatoes, put two slashes). Then, when you use something, turn the slash into an x.

Keep things stocked for quick-n-easy meals. Easy meals for us might be spaghetti or mac-n-cheese or a quick stir-fry.

If possible, don’t bring anyone else. It’s faster, cheaper and healthier.

Shop every two weeks instead of every week.

Buy in bulk when it makes sense. It isn’t cheaper to buy in bulk if you don’t use it.

Keep your receipts, and then enter into a spreadsheet. This will be your price list. Use it so you know when bulk or sale items are a good deal. It’s also a great way to comparison shop between stores — buy your baking goods in Store A but your fresh fruits in Store B. The spreadsheet can also serve as a checklist to use when you’re compiling your shopping list.

Buy frozen veggies. While fresh veggies are a little better, frozen veggies are almost as good, and much better than nothing. And since you can keep them in the freezer, they rarely go bad.

Pack your own lunch. Make leftovers for lunch. Plan to cook a bit extra for each dinner, so that you’ll have leftovers for your lunch and for the kids’ lunches. Pack it right away, after dinner, so you don’t have to worry about it in the morning.

Cook a lot, and then freeze. Alternatively, you can cook a whole mess of spaghetti (for example) and freeze it for multiple dinners. A great idea is to use one Sunday and cook a week’s (or even a month’s) worth of dinners. Plan 5-6 freezable dinners and cook them all at once.

Always have batteries, toilet tissue and light bulbs. And other necessities that you always seem to run out of — buy a whole bunch when they’re on sale, or buy in bulk. Be sure to check to see if you have these items before you go to the store.

Try slow cooker dinners. Cut up a bunch of ingredients, throw them in the pot in the morning, and have dinner ready for you when you get home.

Look for specials. Every store has specials. Be sure to look for them in the newspaper, or when you get to the store (they often have unadvertised specials — look on the higher and lower shelves for deals). Don’t buy them unless they’re things you always use.

Try the store brands. Brand names are often no better than generic, and you’re paying for all the advertising they do to have a brand name. Give the store brand a try, and often you won’t notice a difference. Especially if it’s an ingredient in a dish where you can’t taste the quality of that individual ingredient.

Cut back on your “one-item” trips. Stock up on the things you frequently go out for.

When there’s a sale, stock up. If it’s an item you normally use, buy a bunch of them.

Comparison shop. Look at the different brands for a certain type of product, including store brands. Sometimes there will be a significant difference. Be sure you’re comparing apples to apples — you need to divide the price by the amount (weight, etc.) in order to get the comparable unit price.

Go during slow times. Shop late at night. But during working hours or other non-peak times is good too. Avoid right after 5 p.m., on paydays and near major holidays.

Know when the store stocks its fresh fruits and veggies.

Plan one big trip a month for bulk staples.

Avoid trips to the corner store. Or the gas station! These are some of the most expensive stores.

Try co-ops, such as Costco. You can often save a lot of money at these types of places for staples.

Consider shopping at two stores. There’s no store with a monopoly on savings. Each has savings on different items on different weeks. You might switch between two stores on alternate weeks.

Think deep freeze. If you really want to save, you’ll need a big freezer. Ask around — someone you know might have a relatively new model they don’t need anymore. You can use freezers to stock up on meat, frozen veggies, and similar staples, and to freeze big batches of pasta, casseroles, and other dinners you prepare ahead of time.

Use everything possible. Got a bunch of leftover ingredients (half an onion, a bit of tomato, some pasta, a few other veggies?) … combine them for a quick meal, so that these don’t go to waste before your next grocery trip. The more you can stretch the food, and the less you waste, the less you’ll spend in the long run.

Don’t waste leftovers. Have a list on your fridge of what leftovers are in there, so you don’t forget about them. Plan a leftover night or two, so you’re sure to eat them all. Pack them immediately for lunch, so they’re ready to take the next morning.

Don’t buy junk food (or buy as little as possible).

Rain check. If an item is on sale but the store has run out of stock, ask for a rain check.

Go when the kids are in school. When you bring kids, they will pester you and pester you until you buy some kind of junk food.

Go for whole foods. The processed kind is lacking in nutrition and will make you fat. Look for things in their least processed form — whole grain instead of white or wheat bread, fresh fruit instead of canned or juice, whole grain cereal or oatmeal instead of all other kinds of cereal.

Read labels. Look for trans-fat, hydrogenated oils, high amounts of sugar, saturated fat, lots of sodium, cholesterol, preservatives. Look instead for fibre, good fats, protein, vitamins, calcium.

Clean out your fridge.

Stick to your list. Avoid impulse buys.

Cut back on your restaurant eating. It’s never cheaper or more nutritious than eating at home. Plan your dinners and take your lunches to work.

Avoid frozen dinners.

Drink water.

Prepare your grocery list by aisle. If you regularly shop at the same stores, organize your list so that you can easily find and check off items as you walk down the aisle.

Get cloth grocery bags. You’ll save tons of plastic over time, and help the environment tremendously.

Pack healthy snacks for the kids. Whole wheat crackers, popcorn, cut-up fruit and raisins.