This is the third post of a series where I will be sharing with you my menu for the week, along with a few helpful menu planning tidbits throughout the summer. We’re starting off small, but will eventually make it to planning successful monthly menus.
Hopefully everyone had a fantastic long holiday weekend! We certainly did. Maine was absolutely beautiful and we loved every second we were there! I’ll post a few pictures later this week.
If you haven’t been keeping up with my Menu Plan Monday series, I’ve already covered the 7 questions to ask yourself when you sit down to meal plan, as well as why I meal plan. This week, our menu planning topic is how to write an efficient grocery list that gets you in and out of the store faster than ever before!
When I first started cooking for myself back in college, I hated going to the grocery. I didn’t really know how to meal plan that well yet, which didn’t help, but the grocery part was just the worst. It sucked up so much of my time! As time went on, I got faster, but never too fast. One day, I was talking to my Mom over the phone and I mentioned how I had to go the grocery and how much fun that was going to be since it takes forever. She then enlightened me to the number 1 strategy to grocery store efficiency – Thanks, Mom!
#1 Strategy to Grocery Store Efficiency:
Write your grocery list to go with the flow of your particular grocery!
So what does that mean, exactly? Well, this means you have to get to know your grocery store. It could even mean that you have to get to know a couple of grocery stores because you like to shop around (I do this when I shop monthly). If you haven’t yet learned the layout of your particular grocery, take educated guesses. I always start my lists with the produce section because most grocery stores have produce at one end of the store or the other. I know that all of my fresh fruits and veggies are going to be in this section, so I write all of those ingredients for the week on my list first. From there, I continue my list by thinking about what will be on the first aisle after the produce section and then go aisle by aisle down to the other end of the store. If there’s nothing I need on a particular aisle when I’m in the store, I make a point to not even walk down that aisle – this helps me avoid impulse purchases.
Now, if you’re relatively new to a particular grocery store, you won’t know if the bread aisle is immediately after the produce, or if the pasta aisle is next. Just take your best, educated guess. When you get in the store, if your list is slightly out of order, you’re more likely to take note so you can write your next list in the correct order! Remember – when you’re guessing, always group items that tend to be on the same aisle together. For example, if I needed a condiment and olives, I know that those tend to be stocked on the same aisle, no matter the grocery store, so I can group them together on my list. As long as you follow the #1 Strategy to Grocery Store Efficiency, you won’t have to backtrack or cover the same ground more than once, greatly reducing your time spent in the store!
Now that we’ve covered this excessively important strategy, you just have to choose your list type and you can go be an efficient-grocery-list-writing-fiend! List type? What? Yes, I know…what is this gibberish of which I speak? Well, grocery lists can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You need to use what works for YOU! Here are some options:
1) By hand – The classic. Use a regular old plain piece of paper to do your dirty work with pen or pencil. My mom has always been a fan of this stand by. She can see everything on the page and double check her work. She creates sections on the page for each area of the store and can then write her list in whatever order she chooses.
2) A Grocery List Printable – So this concept is the same as above, but you print out a page from online that is already divided into grocery sections and you write your list from there. Only problem here is that unless you design the printable yourself, the sections on the list won’t necessary go with the flow of your store, but if you can deal with that and prefer something a little cuter, then by all means!
3) An Editable Grocery List Printable – Yes, you heard that write. Thing is, when I say “editable,” that generally only means adding groceries within a particular section by typing them in. Usually, you cannot edit the order of the sections or move them around on the page. The difference between this and the regular old printable is that you can type your list instead of hand writing it. If you’re the kind of person who can’t even read your own writing (hello sweet husband!), or you can read it, but you’re writing the list for someone else to take to the store (like a spouse, nanny, Super-friend, teenage child with a car who needs to learn about going to the grocery before they go to college, etc.), you might want to consider this. Also, if you type faster than you write (this would be me), it could suit you, too!
4) An app like Reminders – THIS is what I do…and I LOVE it! I get to type my list (just call me “speedy-fingers!”) AND I can easily share it with John, who is an expert grocery shopper. (Yes, he is a catch – I’ll keep him!) I can write out my list in the app in whatever order I deem appropriate based on the store we’re going to use. I can share that particular list, which oddly I titled “Grocery” with John by the click of a button, he then receives my pre-organized list, and he’s good to go. The next time I need him to go to the store for me, he already has the list…I just have to fill it up again! I also like this app because when I’m in the grocery, I don’t need a pen or pencil, just my phone. The app has a button next to each item on the list that I can click to check it off!
This is a great list option for someone with an iPhone who doesn’t want to have to keep up with other things like a paper list, pen, or pencil. (I used to use paper lists and pens/pencils, but I would set them down somewhere when I was scrutinizing ingredients, etc. and lose them! Now I’m an iPhone only kinda girl, because it’s just the right size to tuck in my pocket easily or drop back into my purse!) Issues with this list are that you have to have an iPhone, and if you want to do the awesome share-a-list thing I was talking about above, you have to have a Mac computer. Currently, and hopefully they’ll fix this, Reminders does not have the functionality to share lists with other people from the phone app…only on a computer. Still, if you have what you need for this, it’s a great option. Plus, if John tells me he’s happy to run to the store for me if I just write the list (and yes, he does actually tell me that sometimes!), I can actually be at home writing the list as he’s shopping and the items I need just pop up on his phone!
Now choose your list based on your needs, go forth, and conquer that grocery store! …or at least get your groceries faster than ever before!
Here’s my menu for the week:
Monday – Sweet Potato & Spinach Quesadillas
Tuesday – Spaghetti with Summer Squash
Wednesday – Kid-Friendly Spinach Quiche
We’ll eat the leftovers for breakfast/lunch this week!
Thursday – Southwestern Tilapia with Avocado Pico
Be looking for this recipe later this month, but there’s some eye candy below!
Friday – Out for Friday Pizza in the North End (With my brother and sister-in-law!!!)
Saturday – Out with friends
Sunday – Spinach, Mushroom, & Goat Cheese Mini Frittate (Italian plural of frittata!)
This recipe will be going up later this week!
See you next Monday to discuss planning for breakfast, lunch, and snacks including what to do with your leftovers, whether they’re whole meals or just ingredients!
Linked to: Organizing Junkie