Buon Appetito! While on vacation in Italy, we stayed in a house that was near the largest grocery in town. It had four aisles, and two of those were pasta. Our refrigerator was very tiny and so we had to plan each morning what we would eat for the day. We could only buy what we could carry. Less choices, no coupons, no problem. We were on vacation and had lots of time.
Here at home. It can be a little more intimidating. Grocery stores in the U.S. are mazes of seven foot shelves with endless varieties of food. You want soda? The possibilities are sugar or diet, caffeine or no caffeine, bottles or cans, six, twelve, or a case and so on. Then, there are sales and coupons. Paper or plastic? Here are a few things you can do before you leave the house to make your trip more organized.
Know Your Store
To begin with, write your list roughly in the order of the aisles at your favorite store. Going to different stores can make you walk an extra few miles to get forgotten items. For example, my favorite store begins with dairy, then paper products, cleaners, and winds through till you get to the produce. So, when we realize we need lettuce--we write it at the bottom of the list and yogurt goes near the top. This prevents backtracking to get items we missed.
Make a menu of at least five or more meals you or your family like to eat. It can be as simple as mac and cheese, tacos, soup, spaghetti and chicken. Then, list the ingredients you need to make these. These are the basics that you want to have in your pantry. Build your shopping list with breakfast foods, stuff for lunches, and some snacks. More advanced: create a master list of food you use and laminate it. Place it on the fridge and highlight what you need to purchase.
Organize your Pantry (and Your Fridge)
Group like items. (Can Organizers really say this enough?) Soup always goes here on this shelf, canned fruit here, cereal here, condiments in the fridge door. This makes it easy to see what is missing by the holes on the shelves when you take your list on a walk through the kitchen before you leave. It makes unpacking your groceries easier too.
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