Grocery Confession

By Melissa Tosetti

I’ve long been an advocate of weekly grocery shopping.  In fact, one of the keystone habits of Savvy Living is to actually put the critical errand on your calendar.  Instead of you trying to fit it in among a constantly moving list of meetings and appointments, you schedule everything else around it.

About six months ago, I tried something different.  I started going to the grocery store twice a week.  You’d think that it would be more challenging, to double the errand.  But, my personal experience is that grocery shopping became a lot less stressful.  Here’s why:

  • First of all, I live three blocks from my local Safeway and Costco is conveniently located a few blocks from my husband’s martial arts school so actually getting there doesn’t take up extra time. That is a very different experience than when I was a kid living in the country and it would take us 20 minutes to get to the store.
  • Second, I break my shopping up as follows:
    • On Tuesday – I purchase what I need for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This is really about replenishing staples and fresh produce.
    • On Friday – I purchase what I need for the weekend, plus Monday and Tuesday. This gives me a chance to really think through what ingredients do I need to purchase for the special weekend meals we’re going to make or what I plan to bake for dessert.

What I found is that because I’m focusing on fewer meals, I’m less likely to forget to add something to my list.  Also, because I need fewer items, I’m in and out of the grocery store far faster!

Bonus Tip – Around this same time, I started to code my grocery list.

  • I write down the number 1 next to anything that I will find on the right hand of the store.
  • Number 2 next to anything found in the middle aisles.
  • Number 3 for items on the left side of the store.

I know it sounds over the top organized, but since doing it, I haven’t had to go back to an aisle I’ve already gone through because I forgot to grab something while I was there.  By breaking the store down into three sections, it’s easier for me to quickly identify what I need in each of those sections.  When I’m in the first section, I look for all the 1s on my list and don’t leave that section until I’ve grabbed them all.

This new way of shopping is not for everyone.  But for me, I’m finding that not only does it save time and mental energy, but it has reduced my spending on groceries by about 5%.  I believe that’s because I’m really zeroing in on just what I’ll need for the next few days rather than grabbing a few extra items that I “might” need for the next week.

Everyone’s situation is different.  What works best for you may look very different than what works for someone else.  I encourage you to not just keep doing something because it’s the way you’ve always done it.  There may be an opportunity for you to make a task easier, more enjoyable and/or save time and money along the way.