Grocery Shopping Part One: Planning

I happen to be obsessed with lists, calendars, and all things organization. However, I know that not everyone is strange like myself. Thus I’d like to start a series about how I manage grocery shopping; from planning to purchasing!

I’ve been mulling over how to write this post for a while now and decided that it has too many different facets for me to get it right in one go. There are so many little things related to buying food, and many different styles of grocery shopping, so I wanted to get it just right for you.

For example, these are some of the different stages of grocery shopping I go through without even realizing it’s what I’m doing:

  1. Planning meals
  2. Making a list
  3. Checking my kitchen for missing staples
  4. Going to the store
  5. Checking labels
  6. Budgeting as I go
  7. Adding/subtracting from the list based on sales

In order to grocery shop on a budget, you have to be flexible. Sometimes we want to make a magnificent poached pear dish (Coming soon…) but realize once we get to the store that pears are out of season and thus very expensive.

Whoops. Time for a new plan!

Starting Out

When I plan for a grocery trip I always plan for one week of food. Ben and I don’t eat fresh food fast enough for me to do more than one week of shopping at a time. Also, gluten-free bread products don’t last as long as gluten-full ones. Especially if you buy packaged, pre-made breads.

I recommend making your own whenever possible, but I also don’t have nearly enough time to do that regularly so I understand buying a loaf of Schar.

Also, I plan for feeding two adults with strange schedules. Ben usually needs one meal per work shift and works 4-5 days a week. I need five meals to-go for my school days and the rest at home. That means 10 of our meals need to be portable.

Breakfast almost never needs to be portable for us because he works mostly nights and I never leave the house before 11AM.

This is my starting math:

  • 10 portable meals (either leftovers or frozen meals).
  • ~14 breakfasts.
  • At least 1 crock pot meal
  • At least 1 meal Ben can make without me
  • One baking experiment for fun

There are different ways to do this and to think of a week of food. Your math may be different than mine. But I highly recommend doing the math first. You should only need to do it once. It can be adjusted for events (If I know I’m having a friend over for a meal) or for weeks where you know you’ll eat out a lot. But if you do the math once it can be saved and used again.

Math to List


Based on my schedule for the week, I then turn the math into either recipes or meal plans.

The math above breaks down into about three new meal recipes (4-6 servings each), one old/tried recipe (4-6 servings) and a few frozen meals per week. We keep some staples around as well for making sandwiches or small meals, but I’ll talk about those next week.

I sit down with my cookbooks and the internet once a week and pick three new recipes and one old one that I know is good/I can cook well for the week.

And the next step is making a shopping list.

Stay tuned!


2 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping Part One: Planning

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