Quinoa

As Fall approaches, with it comes that Back-to-School feeling — even if neither you nor anyone in your family is actually going back to school.  Many of us tend to want to get ourselves organized, clean up sloppy habits, knock our schedules into shape.  One of the ways to feel like you’ve got some semblance of order in your house to is to master The Big Supermarket Shop.

Many people are quite intimidated by the idea of a big weekly food shop.  Too much to grapple with at once.  But the payoff is significant if you give it, well, the old college try.  And these days we are all trying to minimize our supermarket trips when possible.

Getting yourself organized to do one big weekly market trip will save you time, money, and unnecessary last minute dashes to the grocery store.

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Tips for Weekly Food Shopping

Here are a few pointers to guide you:

1. Make a master list.

Make a master list of things you always want in your house, and organize it by area of the supermarket (dairy, baking ingredients, produce, and so on).  A well-organized list saves you trips to the market, and also time spent zig-zagging through the market, retracing your footsteps.  This list is especially useful if you have it on your computer, as you can easily edit it every week.

2. Check your list before you hit the market.

Check the master list against your fridge, freezer and pantry before you hit the market.  Stocked up on chicken broth?  Take it off the list.  Running low on quinoa?  Onto the list it goes.  You’ll also save money and aggravation by not buying another carton of milk because you couldn’t remember if yours was full or almost empty.

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3. Meal plan before you shop. 

Meal plan before you shop.  This is one more really great time and money and stress-saving habit that rewards you all week long.  Pick out the recipes you plan to make throughout the week, then add the ingredients you need to your master list, in the appropriate categories.

4. Organize your pantry.

Take a bit of time to get your pantry into shape, so you can easily see what you need.  Group like items together — all of the pastas, tomato products, grains, condiments etc. — making things easier to find.  A bit of groundwork really pays off in terms of being well stocked and knowing what needs replenishing.

5. Shop the sales.

Shop the sales — before you leave the house.  Most markets post their weekly specials on their websites, and this is a very helpful thing.  You can make note of what non-perishables are on sale, and see what you want to really stock up on. 

Or you may want to buy some usually pricy perishables to freeze, like a beef tenderloin or some frozen jumbo shrimp. And if you see that pork loin, for instance, is on sale, that may inform your meal planning for the week (and even give you a bit of inspiration to try a new recipe!).

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The Big Shop is not a perfect science.  However, getting more purchased in one big swell foop is just an easier way to get through the week.  Yes, you will have to go to the market again, because you will inevitably run low on orange juice, or have an unexpected influx of teenagers who wipe out your snacks, or need to pick up a piece of fish to cook later in the week.  But there will be fewer of these supermarket pit stops, which is a lovely thing.

And give yourself some time to get into the rhythm of it.  Start with your list of basics, add on from there.  And by all means, get some help unpacking the car.


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