Friday, October 28, 2011

Grocery Shopping Once a Week- 7 QuickTakes

Have you ever been in the grocery line at 6 PM with a full cart of groceries, still not certain what is for dinner? I've been there, and I am sick of the wasted time and money. I am on a once a week shopping kick- I invite you to join me!

1. Plan your meals around your schedule, fasting/feasting times, possible guests. "P's W"- you ask- "Aren't you forty; don't you know this already?"....well, no... Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter recommends planning all three meals for every day. I'm slowly getting there.

2. Do 'save a step' cooking- again, advice from Like Mother, Like Daughter (just go there- link to the right under 'eclectic links')- basically, if you have meals planned, plan to cook twice (not once a month- who really has time for that? or the freezer space? not me!) what you need- chop and brown ground beef, onions and peppers for today's spaghetti sauce and Thursday's chili. If you plan your meals, you will know if the extras need to be frozen or refrigerated. 

3. Bring one child shopping as a helper. I alternate my 2 big girls for our early Saturday morning shopping trips. We go to coffee and four stores from 7:30 to 9 and then make a big late breakfast. I like bringing one child for a little bonding and comparison shopping learning time; also, I can keep her engaged while we are waiting at the check-out to keep her eyes away from the tabloids.

4. Hide your ingredients. Just because you bought it doesn't mean it is fair game to eat today! I'm not his mother, but I do let my husband know which essentials need to stay uneaten for my meal plan to work. I am also trying to buy official snacks and goodies for him to bring to the hospital so he has something to munch on besides vending machine fare. This week, he has Coke Zero, sunflower seeds and Trader Joe's sesame seed sticks to take to work.

5. Have a few essentials in the pantry so you will never need to shop more than once a week. Flour for emergency bread and chocolate chips for emergency cookies, etc, etc

6. Freeze a gallon of milk. Take out a little to allow for expansion while freezing. Then, when milk gets low in the fridge, take out the frozen one to defrost slowly in the fridge.

7. Have a big box of dried milk on hand (or if you can handle the taste- cans of evaporated milk)- going out for only milk turns into time, gas and money wasted. Who among us only buys milk when only milk is on the list? Not me, I assure you. I have also been using milk powder instead of formula if my bigger-than-average two year old needs something in the night (yes, it should be water- I'm just not ready for the three nights of screaming when we do this change)

--- and why is milk so essential? Well, I need it in my morning tea. 

and a bonus quick take- 

Stop wasting food! In the old country, my mother-in-law doesn't have a garbage disposal, so they don't throw out any food. You finish what is on your plate, beginning with smaller portions than typical American ones. Then, leftovers go into the fridge and are not forgotten. Any scraps like peels and cores are saved to bring to great-grandmother's pigs. Bones and random yucky meat stuff are saved for her dogs and cats.

Well, I don't have pigs or dogs and our cat refuses any table food. Our townhouse is too small for composting. I do have a freezer and fridge where I can save bits of meat and veggies for mystery soup and bits of fruit for mystery smoothies.

find many more quick takes at


  1. We try hard to do just one grocery trip per week, but usually end up picking up a few odds-and-ends in the middle. Luckily we walk to our grocery store, so I don't feel as bad about it. :-) It is such a stress reliever to have a meal plan though!!!

  2. Hmm, I wrote a comment, then I got some weird message from blogger that I didn't have access to view this page! Hopefully this one works...even if I lost my REAL comment

  3. Rabbit- Blogger is weird...sorry we lost your real comment

    Monica- some people make it work with shopping every other day (like in Europe where the fridges tend to be really small)- I just need to force a once a week deal so I force myself to plan meals

  4. I used to not know what we were having for dinner until I was standing in front of the stove that evening. In fact, sometimes I would just start throwing stuff into the skillet and hope something good came out. Fortunately, my mother gave me the gift of being able to cook well without a recipe. But, then my best friend wrote a blog about how her mom taught her to plan meals and even had a special meal planning sheet, which I can send to you. About four years ago I started planning a weeks worth of meals. After a couple of weeks I could not imagine life any other way. I ONLY ever shop once a week. But, my husband does pick up only milk for us occasionally. He works close to a grocery and we have one around the corner too. I plan seven dinners, and keep a stock of staple snacks, lunch items and breakfast items. At the end of the week our refrigerator and pantry are literally cleared out. I keep one box of mac and cheese dinner, and or pasta and sauce on hand just in case we need an extra meal or so. I also keep some frozen meats and vegetables on hand just in case. If we have too, too much on a rare occasion we invite over our bachelor neighbor. He is always eager to help finish off the pot.

    Meal planning is a great time and money saver! This is a great post for anyone who does not already do this.

  5. I have been planning meals for quite a while (our grocery bill suffers when I don't) but I have also learned always to keep something really fast on hand just in case, be it boxed mac and cheese or canned soup or something I made myself and froze. There are always those days when things don't go according to plan; the meal that I intended to have leftovers from for the next day's lunch didn't turn out well, or was too good and there weren't any leftovers, or I came down with the flu. That boxed mac and cheese is then what stands between us and spending way too much on restaurant food, especially when I'm sick, because my husband is pretty hopeless in the kitchen.


thanks for commenting! (comments on old posts are moderated)