I think I chose Thursdays because they tend to be less crowded than Friday’s and because our dinner plans on Thursday are much more relaxed so I don’t feel the pressure to get home and get dinner started.
I also shop regularly at Target and Costco, but I try REALLY hard to only shop at Target every other week and at Costco about every 4 – 6 weeks. I try and spread all the shopping out so that I don’t have to do all three in the same week. If it is a week that I need to do more than just grocery shopping then I either have to add time to my calendar or I divide it up between two days.
My husband does all the fruit shopping in our home and I do all the other shopping (household items, vegetables, dairy, staples, meat, etc). My husband will usually stop at the grocery store twice a week to pick up fresh fruit (it is like candy in our home).
How I Make Sure I Don’t Forget Anything
I meal plan every week during my weekly planning review and create a grocery list at the same time I meal plan. I save my meal plans and store them along with every recipe I need in a 3-ring binder so that I have everything I need when it comes time to plan the meals for the week. I then post the grocery list on the refrigerator and write the meal plan on the calendar. This helps me remember what meals I planned and also helps me add any other items that I realize I need throughout the week. And because my meal planner is portable (i.e. it is in a 3-ring binder) I could probably take it with me to the store if I wanted to, but I have not done this. Sometimes I will take a recipe with me, but never the binder.
I review my calendar during my weekly planning review for any events or activities that require either food or something from the store and then add everything I need to my shopping lists. The planning calendar I talked about here helps with this too.
I am very disciplined about adding items to the grocery list, Target list, and Costco list AS SOON AS I THINK ABOUT THEM. This habit alone has saved me many trips to the store. It took a lot of practice, but now it is just habit. I also tell my kids to add items when they think of them rather than just tell me. Because they know where the lists are, they can easily add things too.
was giving a presentation last week to the St. Paul’s Parish Mom’s group (a really nice church and school if you are looking and live in the area) on meal planning and when I told them that I only go to the grocery store once a week, they looked at me as if I was crazy. I never really considered the fact that I rarely make multiple trips to the grocery store each week anything special. It is just something that I have always tried to do and there are definitely weeks that I have to go more than once. But since it was met with such surprise at the presentation I thought I would share with you my strategies for how I manage grocery shopping once a week. I talked about how I managed grocery shopping and errands a while back, so in this post I will get a little more specific.
How I Plan for Shopping in My Schedule
Grocery shopping and errands are always something I actually schedule on my calendar, so I don’t forget and ensure that I stick with the habit. For me, late Thursday afternoons are set aside for shopping and errands and I schedule it on my calendar like this.I keep back up supplies of all toiletries and as soon as I pull the last one from the closet, I add its replacement to the list. I also keep a list in the bathroom so that I can easily write it down when I realize we are out. If I waited to write it down when I got downstairs, I would probably forget about it.
For the stores that I shop at less frequently (i.e. Target and Costco), I always make sure I buy enough to get me through until the next planned shopping trip. In the case of Target, since I only shop there every other week, I make sure that I buy two weeks’ worth of the things I need. For example, I usually buy our cat food at Target, so I just make sure I have enough to get me through two weeks.
So that is pretty much how I manage to only go to the grocery store once a week. It took me many years to get get really good at this and I have learned to tweak things to make it work for me. So if you want to try these same strategies in your own home, take your time, be patient, and try and stay motivated.
How I Manage Grocery Shopping and Errands
Grocery shopping, putting away clean laundry, and cleaning my house are probably at the bottom of my fun list. I love to cook and though I do enjoy planning the meals and having fresh ingredients on hand to prepare them, the actual shopping is something I could do without. So over the years, I have learned how to streamline the shopping process and now I have it down to only requiring about two to three hours each week. I have tried to get away with less time and some weeks I can, but for the most part I have to allow at least two hours. Here is how I manage the shopping in my home.
I keep lists separate, visible, and easily accessible
First of all, I always use a list! I find that when I shop without a list, I always end up buying things we don’t need and having to make a follow up trip back to the store for something I forgot. I also spend more time in the store itself because I am less focused and more distracted.
On average I shop at four stores regularly throughout the month. I shop at two grocery stores that I hit every week, Target that I try to keep to once every other week, and Costco which I only shop at once per month.
The grocery stores I limit to just food and I use two different grocery stores because I like the fresh produce and meat selection better at one of them. My husband also stops about twice a week at our grocery stores to pick up fresh fruit. He is a BIG fruit eater and I learned early on that I could never learn to pick a peach that would pass his inspection so I gave up and now he does it.
For shopping at these two stores I use the grocery shopping checklist included below. I keep it hanging on my refrigerator door and just check off items throughout the week as I realize we need them. The day before I go grocery shopping, I make my meal plan for the week, add the items I need to the grocery list, and head out to the stores to shop. This entire process (meal planning, list making, and shopping at two stores) takes me about two hours or less. I can usually plan my menus in less than fifteen minutes because I rely on the monthly meal plan I created and because my list keeps me focused, I can get in and out of both stores in about ninety minutes.
The other advantage to keeping my grocery list on the refrigerator as opposed to online or on a smart phone app, is that everyone in the family can see it and add items to the list themselves. I am slowly but surely teaching them to stop telling me and to just write it down. I also think just carrying around a paper grocery list in the store is easier than having to have my phone out and reading it from there. I can’t tell you how many times I have dropped my phone (I have a crack in it to prove it) and I always seem to have a hard time of finding a place to put it down safely while I reach for something off the shelf. So for me, paper is just easier.
The other hour or so I spend on shopping comes from time I spend at Target, Costco, and running small errands.
In regards to Target, I also keep a list for things I need at Target (cat food, birthday gifts, toothpaste, etc.) on my refrigerator. I also keep a small dry erase white board on the mirror in my bathroom so that we can remember to add it to the list. If we wait until we are downstairs to add it to the list, it usually gets forgotten. And just like the grocery list, I am teaching the kids to write down the things they need rather than rely on my memory. I try very hard to keep Target shopping to an every other week trip rather than a weekly shopping trip in order to save both time and money.
I also shop at Costco about once a month and if I can get away with it, I stretch it to every six weeks. I keep the Costco list on this dry erase do list and note board.
Dry Erase Magnetic Do List
And when it comes time to go shopping, I take a picture of the list with my phone and set it as the wall paper, so that I can easily see it. This is the only non-paper based shopping list I use. Sometimes, if my husband is going to do the Costco shopping, I will send the picture to him and he can read it directly off his phone. When the shopping is done, we erase it from the board and start over.
Schedule it on my calendar
Every week I schedule grocery shopping and errands on my calendar (usually after working on Thursdays) and do everything I can to keep it to the same schedule and day every week. I really do not like shopping on the weekends because the stores are so much busier and no one seems happy to be there, so I very rarely go to the stores then. I also allow time in my calendar to do some errands and can usually get all shopping and errands done at once. Only when I have a lot of errands (like when I am planning a birthday party or getting ready for a vacation), do I sometimes need to allow for extra time. For the most part, errands for me consist of dropping books off at the library, stopping at the bank, or picking up something that I can’t get at my regular stores.
Shop once per week
I also work really hard to only shop once per week and avoid having to make extra stops throughout the week because I forgot something. I am usually able to pull this off by making sure I take time to meal plan and from time to time asking my husband to pick something up while he is at the store picking out his perfect peach.
Tips for Grocery Shopping
Love it or hate if you want to eat, you need to go grocery shopping. Here are some tips to make this time consuming task more organized and efficient. Keep a running list on your refrigerator. Write items down when you are running low; don’t wait till you are completely out. To speed things up at the grocery store I recommend grouping like items together. You can search on line for grocery list templates or make your own.Before going to the grocery store make sure to do the following:
Check your menu plan and add any ingredients you don’t have to your list.
Go through the sales flyers and coupons to ensure you are maximizing your savings.
Clean out and organize your refrigerator and freezer.
Eat. If you go shopping on an empty stomach you will spend more money.
Decide what you budget is going to be. Allow for a little bit extra in case you discover a great deal and want to stock up.
Try to go grocery shopping during slower times of the day. Avoid the grocery store during the 5 o’clock rush.
While shopping stick to your list and budget. Keep a rough running total in your head.
If an item is on sale and it is not available. Make sure to ask for a rain check so you can get the sale price next time you go grocery shopping.
By planning ahead grocery shopping will no longer be a sometimes dreaded task, but something you might enjoy.