When I was a kid, I LOVED going grocery shopping. Browsing the aisles and seeing all the bright colored fruit and veggies, getting my favorite snacks, and begging for those mini M&M’s in the little flip top tube. As I grew older, that magic faded and I had to use my own money to buy all those groceries. Having to budget and stick to tight lists meant that the orange ramen packets were a staple in my home (and still are). I began resenting grocery shopping and hated every second of it. However, something changed recently.
I went grocery shopping with a normal list but I didn’t have meals in mind. I decided to waltz through the produce section and pick out a few key veggies that looked delicious. I did the same through meats, seafood and other aisles. When I got home and started cooking, I let the ingredients do the meal planning for me. Not only has this changed how I cook and gets me excited to try new things, but it’s helped me get excited to get back to the grocery store! I’ve taken 6 tips that helped me love grocery shopping again, and put them here for you!
- Take Inventory of Your Kitchen Before You Shop
To save you both time and money in the store, make sure you take inventory of your fridge. See what condiments you’re running low on, what vegetables or fruits are about to go bad you can use, etc. When I first started shopping on my own I constantly made this mistake and ended up having 5 jars of mayo that were pushed to the very back of my cupboard.
Implementing this technique not only helped me save a ton of money in the long run, but it helped me plan meals before I go grocery shopping. That way I can use up all the old, near-expired ingredients to create a delicious home-cooked meal! Taking inventory of your kitchen makes this next step easier!
- Have A List Ready to Go
While this may seem like basic advice, a list helps you go a long way. Having a list somewhere like on your fridge where you can quickly write down things that need to be replaced or ingredients for meal ideas. As someone that’s in their kitchen constantly and is always on Pinterest and Youtube looking to try new recipes, my lists can get pretty long. I’ve found having a small whiteboard on our fridge helps keep it all organized and can easily be taken off while we take inventory of our fridge.
- Shop for Cheaper Protein You Can Use in Many Meals
While individually packaged meats like ribeyes and stuffed chicken breasts may seem like the best option, you’re actually wasting money doing that. Instead, sub for a cheaper quality of meat that is still delicious and can be used in a variety of ways. The other night I roasted a beef roast in just a little salt and pepper to be used 3 separate ways: One as roast beef with a delicious beef gravy, one as birria tacos, and another as bbq pulled pork. I was able to create 3 delicious meals from one roast beef instead of one meal from one ribeye.
A great way to do this is by buying whole cuts of meat. Get a whole chicken and break it down yourself. With that one chicken, the possibilities are endless and you can use the bones to create a super delicious broth for soups and whatever else you need!
- Don’t Be a Close-Minded Shopper
While growing up, I was raised in a meat and potato family (believe me, they are still my main food groups). But as I grew up, I discovered my love for traditional Asian and Spanish cuisine instead of the Americanized versions. Whenever my cooking is feeling uninspired, I’ll take a stroll through the “international foods” aisle. While I believe I own every Asian sauce and a ton of curry blocks, I still stroll and get new food and flavor combos. If you want to learn more about making foreign food without foreign ingredients, click here!
- Buy What Inspires You
For me most of my life grocery shopping was always getting in, getting out, and sticking to the list. But when I started taking my time and opened my mind to the possibilities, grocery shopping changed for me. I started inspecting the vegetables and if something, in particular, looked perfectly ripe or sounded delicious. It seems like some people may be scared to touch or feel the fruit and veggies. You’re allowed to dig and touch and find the perfectly ripe ingredient. Recently, I saw the most perfect-looking radishes and cucumbers at my market and picked them up to make a delicious salad. When you take the time to see what looks good instead of what’s just on your list, you can create hearty, filling meals that stay within your budget.
- Keep Your Pantry Essentials Stocked
When I moved into my own apartment for the very first time, I’m so thankful that my loving mother who I love so much (I know she’s reading this) purchased all of my pantry essentials. All the spices, baking supplies, canned goods, and more, all those pantry ingredients are the basis for a ton of great meals. Like Ethan Chlebowski, a popular YouTuber home cook says, “having a well-stocked pantry reduces cooking friction”. Cooking friction is the lack of desire to cook, which makes you spend a ton of money on takeout on food that doesn’t satisfy you. Between spices, powders, canned goods, beans, and more, your pantry is there to be the backbone of your cooking and the place you go to make easy, delicious meals.
These are just a few of the tips I’ve used that have not only made grocery shopping easier and more affordable, but also fun! I love to grocery shop which means I love to work on what I do!
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Thanks for reading and until next time!