So you shop for food every other week. Maybe every weekend. Does it ever happen that when you arrive at the supermarket, your eyes pop out and you buy a little bit of everything?
Do you even need that much Swiss cheese?
If you find yourself picking up items that you don't even need, or go to waste before you eat, you are definitely not alone. It happens to everyone. To try and prevent over-buying and waste, here are some tips to help you shop more wisely.
First, buy with your head, not your stomach. Eat before you buy. After four saltines, you won’t be tempted to purchase one of every lunch meat at the deli counter.
If you go to the supermarket on an empty stomach, you will want to buy every single "delicious looking" item you see. And when you’re hungry, most everything looks delicious.
Even the deviled ham looks delicious.
And, at the end of what was supposed to be a quick trip to the market, your cart overflows with twenty bags of “delicious,” expensive, and possibly wasteful “delicious.” So make sure to shop on a full tummy.
Next, did you check your fridge and pantry before shopping? Does anybody really know what food they actually have in their kitchen at any one time? This goes back to organization. If your food is accessible, you will find it easier when you do a quick once-over before you hit the market, to see what you actually need to buy. Then you won’t end up with ten bags of rice, and ten dozen potatoes.
Also, make a list of the necessary things. Sounds simple enough, but we all forget what we have. A simple pad and pen stuck to the fridge will do the trick. Grab the pen and paper, go through your cabinets, and write what you need.
Or, enter what you need into your iPhone. I won’t judge.
In my household, we always need milk, bread, eggs, ham, cheese, butter, pasta, fruits, onions and/or shallots, garlic, cilantro, peppers and limes. These basic items are the starting point for me to cook the meals during the week. From there I will actually plan what I’m going to make specifically, so I can get those extra items.
I always try to keep in mind that if I am not going to be able to cook something for the week that I’m shopping, I refrain from buying those ingredients. This is especially true of fresh ingredients, but it also applies to canned goods. This last thought leads me to my third point-check your calendar.
So you go to the food store and buy all of those tempting, fresh items of food. Then during the week, you realize that you have absolutely no time to cook. And, sadly, many of the perishables go to waste.
This is why checking your calendar is so important. Think to yourself whether or not you have to work late, or if your kids have soccer/ballet/piano/math tutor late one day (or ALL days!), etc.
Plan what meals you make around your schedule-less complicated meals when you’re short on time, or something more involved if you can spare an hour. Making a schedule of what you will eat for the week can help greatly.
Again, fridge space is handy for this. Just post a calendar on the fridge, and you can jot some dinner ideas for the week ahead. Using this, plus knowing what food staples you already have, will reduce food waste, and save you money on your weekly shopping trips.
I’m sure this common sense approach on how to food shop more efficiently will make a difference in the time and money you save.
And saving is the name of the game!