This post was originally published on Actively Northwest.
Grocery shopping is often the one weekly task we all dread. We’re on a mission to change that! To make it fun, quick and cost effective, creating a grocery list ahead of time is essential. This five-step guide will have you looking forward to grocery shopping and will ensure that your cart is full of fresh, healthy ingredients.
Create a meal plan
At the beginning of each week, think through how many meals you need to prepare and what you’d like to cook for each meal. Once you’ve planned out your recipes, make a list of the ingredients you’ll need for each one. As you do this, keep two things in mind: First, ask yourself what produce is in season. Not only is local produce usually cheaper, it’s higher in nutrients and tastes better. Second, make sure each meal has a good serving of vegetables and protein. For healthy recipe ideas, check out our LifeWise kitchen series.
Don’t forget about snacks
While you may plan healthy lunches and dinner, it’s easy to go for the junk food when hunger hits in the afternoon. Stay on track by purchasing healthy snacks each week and stocking your home and office. With the abundance of fresh produce in season right now at farmers markets, it’s easy to create a healthy snack by pairing fresh fruit with a handful of nuts, or local chopped vegetables with hummus. For more creative ideas, read our 3 p.m. Visual Snack Attack Guide.
Use staple ingredients more than once
There are certain fresh ingredients that you may need for a recipe, but know you won’t use the full package. Rather than let the rest go to waste, try to incorporate a second recipe that week with the same ingredient. For example, if one recipe calls for fresh mint, find a second recipe that also uses mint.
Buy in bulk and freeze for next use
It’s often cheaper to buy food in bulk. This works best for foods you can store in the pantry (like grains) or foods you can store in the freezer (such as meat). Vendors at local farmers markets offering grass-fed meat will often offer a discount if you buy a larger portion. Keep in mind that you don’t have to eat it all that week. Instead, freeze some and make your grocery list a little bit shorter the following week.
Organize the list by location
When you’re buying groceries for the whole week, the list can be long and you may be making multiple stops. In order to make shopping as fast as possible, group the ingredients by the location you are going to pick them up. That way, you know exactly what you need and nothing is forgotten.
To make shopping even more efficient, Serve it Up offers a handy way to keep your grocery lists online. On this free Seattle-based website and app, you’ll find grocery store coupons, food nutrition ratings and healthy recipes.
Now that you have your list ready to go, use our Grocery Store Playbook to help navigate the grocery store.