Grocery shopping is one of those tasks you either love or dread. If you have no idea what you need, you might dread walking up and down every aisle, but if you are prepared and have a game plan grocery shopping can be great.
One of my favorite grocery stores in San Francisco is Rainbow Grocery Coop. While only supporting the vegetarian needs of the community (they don’t sell meat) they have managed to make organic produce and bulk items affordable. They have everything from bulk herbs and spices, to grains, chocolate, peanut butter, honey, and every specialty oil imaginable. It is definitely a fun and cheaper way to try out new products (like the the dried refried bean mix I bought). Purchasing in bulk I also find fulfilling. Less waste from plastic and cardboard packaging, and you get to store everything in pretty jars when you get home.
So how do you shop? I usually never go without a list or I end up buying things I don’t need but can’t remember if I have. Knowing what you need is essential in sticking to a budget and not over-buying. It will also help keep you from purchasing snacks and other products on SALE that supermarkets intentionally place in your path to get you to buy!
I keep a magnetic notepad on the fridge and write daily the items we run out of or items I need for a specific meal. You could also try these spectacular notepads from Knock Knock with all the basics. Knowing what you need is step one. Then you just need to remember to bring your list and re-usable bags to the store with you!
The best way to circulate a grocery store is first to shop the perimeter, then move in to the aisles. On the perimeter, you will find Produce, Dairy, and Meat. If you fill up your basket with fresh and healthy products first, you will have less room for cheetos and chips later. I also like to limit which aisles I shop. I steer clear of the snack aisle and stay near the canned beans, rice, and tomatoes. I actually find the aisles in the middle of the store overwhelming, so having a list helps me navigate to the items I know I need rather than staring at a shelf full of salad dressing trying to find best possible deal.
On my last outing to Rainbow, I may have bought slightly more veggies than we need, but we are trying to eat less meat. For all of the items you see in the first picture (minus the eggs and yogurt because I forgot to set them out), I only spent $100. This is more than enough to last M and I two to three weeks. I have our staple items like fruit, rice, beans, lettuce and potatoes, but I also bought some fun items as well. At Whole Foods or Safeway for the same organic ingredients, I would have spent at least 20% more.
If you don’t know how to stock your kitchen, Real Simple has a great checklist for you. Listing ingredients by Pantry, Refrigerator and Freezer. Happy Grocery Shopping Everyone!