So this is part two of my meal simplifying process. If you’d like to read part 1 Simplifying Meal Planning, you can find it here.
If you followed part 1 you should now have a list of meals. Now you need to decide how often you want to go to the store. If you want to go shopping every two weeks, but only have one week’s worth of meals then you’ll need to buy double the ingredients. Plan accordingly.
Now, there are two ways to do this: the more time consuming, but free way, and the supposedly quicker, easier way that you have to pay for. I’ve done the harder version, so I know the harder one can be done, and does work; you just have to put more time in. I’m currently testing the easier one to see if it truly saves time in the long run. This post will focus on the harder version, and I’ll do a follow up on the other in a week or so.
- Decide where to keep your ‘Master List’. I use the Our Groceries app which is awesome, but paper will work too.
- Consolidate all the ingredients from your supper recipes taking into account if you’ll be doubling the ingredients or whatever other changes you may have made. For example if your making three meals that call for 1 chicken breast then write ‘3 chicken breasts’ on your list. (Don’t forget sides! Even if it’s just a bag of mixed veggies you still want to have it written down. We’re trying to make this fool-proof. Learn from my mistakes. :P)
- Figure out what you do for breakfast and lunch. This is going to be different for everybody. If you have a very structured breakfast/lunch you’ll know exactly what to put here. If not don’t worry. You probably have 3 or 4 things that are your family’s go-to breakfast/lunch items even if everybody does their own thing. Decide on which items you’ll need to have on hand for those choices and figure out approximately how much you’ll need to last the time between shopping trips. If you’re wrong, no worries! Take a note of it and fix it next time.
- Add those items to your consolidated list.
- Now decide on your food staples. You know, things that might not be in your recipes, but you want to have on hand like mayonnaise, or sugar, etc.
- Add those to your consolidated list.
- Do the same for snacks if you’d like.
You should now have a complete list of EVERY ITEM you’ll need to last between shopping trips. For the things that you’re not sure how much you’ll need (like condiments) it’s a good idea to have a pantry area with all your unopened items and keep at least one of each in there, so you can have a one-stop shop to check over. If you have an unopened bottle of ketchup you probably don’t need to get any even if the one in the fridge is almost empty. This will of course depend on how many people are eating the ketchup, and how long you go between shopping trips. If you think you’ll need a higher ‘stock number’ try to figure out what that should be. The idea is to make this a streamlined as possible, and moving back and forth between the fridge and the pantry wastes time. (Not to mention it’s frustrating and a prime way to forget something. Trust me, I’ve been there.)
Now if you want to take this a step further you can organize your list by what you’ll get first in the store which will streamline your actual shopping trip. This does work; it’s not just perfectionism. It will actually save you some time.
I decided to take things even further and wrote down the brands and package size of every item so that if I ever needed to ask someone else to pick some things up for me (Josh for instance) they would know exactly what I need. That way we could avoid the usual back and forth texting (“How many eggs did you need? Did you want a specific brand of flour? Whole milk or 2%?” etc.). However, if you don’t do that very often feel free to skip this.
Now make a list of all the non-food items in the amounts you think you’ll need to last the time you’ve set. I prefer to keep this separate from my food list, but do whatever works best for you.
How do you simplify your shopping? Have any of you dipped your toes into online grocery shopping? I’m planning to experiment with that later myself; any tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts!