Grocery Shopping Hacks That Saved My Time and Sanity

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One of the best things that the transformation in how we live due to the pandemic brought to us was online grocery ordering and curbside pickup. With two small kids, I don’t have the time or patience to walk through the grocery store with two handy kids trying to grab everything we *don’t* need. I love online ordering and pickup because I don’t even have to step out of my car. But, I felt it was still taking too long to place my grocery orders every couple of weeks, and I knew there had to be a better way. 

I thought, “what do we do at work when a task or process takes too long? We standardize it!” So, I decided to standardize my grocery order. It isn’t rocket science, but it took me a while to realize that I was always running out of our everyday items. Everything was off-cycle, so I was placing multiple orders every month, spending too much time on the app, and running errands to the store, and I wanted to simplify. Here’s what I did.

  1. In an actual notebook (there’s something so satisfying about writing lists on lined paper), I wrote down five easy meals that I could rotate (each repeating once) throughout a month. This wouldn’t cover all our meals but would be an excellent base for those nights when you don’t have the time or mental capacity to try something new or follow a complex recipe. My goal for these meals was to cook them in about 30 minutes, and my entire family would eat them. Your list might look different, but here is mine for an example: spaghetti, chili, butter chicken, tuna casserole, and pizza.
  2. Next, I went through each recipe and wrote down the ingredients needed for all the meals. When the ingredients were shared across multiple recipes, I combined the quantities. Then, I doubled those quantities because I wanted enough to last for a month. 
  3. Then I added the items we’d need for lunches, breakfasts, and snacks to the list, along with standard things we need like butter, milk, and eggs. 
  4. This next step might be overkill, but it was so satisfying. I went through all the ingredients and highlighted each in a color corresponding to which store was the best place to get the items. I usually shop at Sam’s Club and Kroger, so I split between these two stores. I took the time to figure out if it was cheaper to get the bulk item or not during this time which I hadn’t done before!
  5. Each of the stores has an app for grocery orders. And each app has the option to make lists. So I made a “monthly shopping” list of each app, went through my notebook, and added the item with the appropriate quantity for the month to each list. 
  6. Now, every month all I have to do is open the app, click “add to cart” from my list, and make sure there are no items out of stock (there usually are a few, so I add to the other store’s cart or find a replacement), and checkout. Voila! In way less time to go through the apps and add my items, less time thinking about what meals I’ll make less month, and way less time wasted on multiple trips to the store each month (or week), I’ve finally got my grocery shopping under control!

I usually get some fresh fruit in the orders, but not enough for the entire month. We also subscribe to Green Bean Delivery, where local seasonal fruits and vegetables are delivered straight to our door! I signed up for the bi-weekly deliveries, but I usually suspend one per month because it is so fresh and lasts so long!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Love this!! So do you only grocery shop once a month then? You said the 5 staple meals wouldn’t cover all your meals, so what’s the process for shopping for those other meals? How do you handle perishables that aren’t from Green Bean (like milk)?

    • Thanks! I order double of each ingredient for those 5 meals, so enough to make each one at least twice. Other nights we either go out to eat, to go friends/family to eat, or I make something different out of the leftover ingredients (for example, spaghetti noodles with butter, peas, egg, and Parmesan). I do sometimes need to order milk and other things in-between big grocery orders and I’ll usually do that with target pick-up.

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