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Fave! Organized Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning for the Free-Spirited

I recently had a revelation concerning the women of my acquaintance. I can, to a person, sort them into two distinct categories: Those who make — and typically stick to — grocery lists, and those who do not.

I fall among the latter.

The traits common to my list-making counterparts are many and, from an organizational viewpoint, impressive. They tend to stick to a schedule, they file both coupons and receipts, and their cell phone batteries seem never to die. This group of remarkable women also tend to be early-birds, maintain regular exercise regimens, and they (and their children) are usually successful in chosen endeavors.

Now, I’m not complaining. Though interaction among this group can highlight my organizational shortcomings, I still feel every bit their equal. I founded and still run a business, I have a lovely daughter and husband, and I maintain a fairly well-managed — and definitely stylish — home. So, the fact that I have to dig through a few months’ receipts to find cash for lunch while my friends patiently watch (do I detect a smirk?) does not trouble me at all.

But my freestyle, no-list grocery shopping tendency is really starting to bother me.

It must be a renewed interest in cooking that’s initiating this self-awareness. I’ve always loved to cook, but throughout my 30’s cooking took a back burner to the baby, building a fledgling business and replacing wallpaper. Now that other factors have simmered a bit, I find my culinary desires are not satisfied by a standard 20-meal fare. And fulfilling these desires begins at the grocery store.

So, on Saturday, during my daughter’s haircut, I did not cringe over pages of stick-figure models in Vogue. Rather, I brought my two Rachael Ray cookbooks with me. I chose a week’s worth of meals and I made my shopping list.

Total list-making time: 22 minutes. It would have been faster but that darned Rachel makes everything sound so good in her quippy captions, I simply had to read them.

I shopped the following day, sans 9-year old daughter. Total time: 30 minutes, including checkout. Total cost for 5 Day’s Planned Meals: Approx $62.00

Say… I could be on to something! This beats my usual habits; rushing home and turning to mac and cheese for lack of any better ideas, and multiple incomplete grocery store visits per week.

Thus — I’ve formally challenged myself to live by my grocery list-making friends’ example for four weeks. I’ll plan meals, buy for those meals, and try to shop just once per week. To aid in this endeavor, I’ll create a comprehensive shopping checklist, from staples to specialty items, that I can print and quickly fill out.

Believe me, if I can create a manageable method for grocery shopping, and stick to it, there’s hope for all freestyle grocery shoppers out there! If all goes well, I’ll add my finalized Grocery Shopping Staples-to-Specialty Checklist to this Blog in May.

If I fall back into my old habits… well, mac and cheese really isn’t bad, I suppose!

I’ll keep your posted on my personal challenge… and please post any tips and tricks you have.

1 Response

  1. I keep a shopping list template of commonly purchased items on the fridge so I can just put a check mark next to items I need to purchase. It helps me keep on track and the list is organized in categories corresponding to my grocery store’s isles.

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