Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A shopping technique worth sharing

I have a new grocery shopping technique that I am trying out for a few weeks. When I go to the grocery store, I always bring my reusable bags so I don't contribute to landfills, etc., with the plastic bags. And before I would shop until I think I got everything I needed with no particular meals in mind. Of course, that's without saying the obvious combinations of ingredients - spaghetti needs marinara, chips need salsa and beans, etc. So I would buy all sorts of random foods that were yummy and have plans for those items for some meal later on in the week. And there's my downfall. Later in the week, even just one day after going grocery shopping, I stand there staring into my pantry and refrigerator thinking out loud that I have nothing to make for dinner. Sadly, a lot of the fresh produce goes to waste if I don't eat it within two days. (Maybe something with the internal environment of my house? Too warm? Too much AC circulated air instead of fresh air?)

So my new approach - take only two of my reusable shopping bags with me and at least three meals written out on paper. Now, before I leave the house, I have the entire items list put together and I go through what I already have on hand and cross-through those items so I don't purchase more of them. Will I really consume two large containers of arugula within a few days? No. I acknowledge that fact, therefore I shouldn't waste money on food, or just waste the food period. Lose-lose for all. When I get to the grocery store, I get only those things on my list (unless I'm a dummy and totally forgot to add some staple, like rice milk or something). I always start in the produce section, then grains and canned goods, and lastly the frozen section. The two concepts that stick in my mind as I go through the aisles are: 1) Is on my list (or did I forget to put it on the list and I really REALLY need it)? and 2) Does everything I need fit into my two bags? If it doesn't, and it's not on my list, back to the shelf it goes. So to state my new technique simply - save money, save food.

What techniques work for you? Are you working off of a meal plan or a budget, or both even? What great finds have you found? What things didn't work for you so that we may all learn? We'd love to hear about them.

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