Monday, October 15, 2012

Grocery Shopping & Menu Planning: What Works For Me

Recently, I was bragging sharing with a friend of mine about a recent grocery store trip.  I don't know about you guys, but I just cant get into this hard core couponing thing. I tried, and failed, several times. I found myself buying lots of stuff we didn't normally use or didn't use fast enough because there were coupons.  I found that I was one of those people who fell into the traps of spending more because coupons gave you the illusion of saving.  Yeah. So couponing is  just a no go for me. Don't get me wrong, I check the local ads and if I come across something that's already on my grocery list then I'll cut it out and use it.  But thats it.
I dont really coupon but I have been able to better organize my grocery shopping so that we clean out our fridge before I go to the store again.  This has actually saved us money because we eat at home more and use all of our food before it spoils.
I was telling my friend about this and thought I'd share my process with you! Now, this is a fluid process, it has grown and changed over the last several months, but for now, this is what works for me.
I blog about food, so I am always on Pinterest and other favorite blogs checking out recipes. This is probably what helps me the most, because I already have an interest in food. Im always pinning recipes to try later.  But then when I go back and look at the pins, I get really overwhelmed combing through the ingredients of each recipe.
That is when I discovered Ziplist. Ziplist is a life saver!!!  Now, instead of pinning recipes, I just installed the Ziplist Recipe Clipper into my toolbar. I zip it, and it saves the recipe and ingredients for me.  Its also handy because you can add tags and search your recipe box later. I find this useful for recipes we really loved.  I tag them with "I loved" "David Loved" or "We Loved" and then later, I can find them quickly.
Every week (give or take a few days) when I am preparing to grocery shop, I sit down and look at Ziplist. I typically plan 5 dinners.  At my house its just David and I so this works well for us, I'm sure this strategy could translate into bigger households though too.
I plan 5 dinners, usually the recipes serve 4-6 people. I make a list of the 5 recipes I've chosen and post it on my fridge.  I find that instead of saying "On Monday we will have this for dinner" I just list the 5 recipes and as I make them, I cross them off the list.
This is helpful because:
  • I dont have to stare at the fridge and wonder what Im going to make tonight. 
  • I dont stare at my fridge and wonder why I bought 3 green peppers, or whatever other miscellaneous ingredients I forgot why I bought
  • If Im not in the mood for chicken, I can just pick a different recipe from my weekly menu, sometimes you just gotta make whatever you're craving that day
So now that I've chosen my 5 recipes, I use Ziplist to create my grocery list.  One by one, I add each recipe to my Shopping List and it asks me what ingredients I want to have added.  It even suggests why I might already have in the house.
Once all of my recipes are loaded onto my shopping list, I quickly add anything else we would normally need, like milk, eggs, etc.
I cruise the local ad for coupons and then head to the store.
Ziplist has an app for your phone, so there is no need for me to bring a list!  Whats great too is Ziplist stores your list by departments.  So I get everything in the produce section before I move on.  No more, being on the other end of the grocery store when you realized you missed carrots, which were further down your hand written list.
There you have it. I now have my menu complete, my grocery shopping complete, and what else is great is, I mentioned its just the 2 of us, and our recipes serve 4-6 people.  Well, I just made us lunches all week too.
So let me recap the benefits again....
  • Recipes are all stored in one place, with the ingredients needed
  • Menu planning is done in a snap (Mine usually takes about 15 minutes to do)
  • Grocery List is completed in minutes and arranged by grocery department
  • All the food I buy gets eaten
  • My menu is laid out for me with the flexibility I need
  • I save money because I only buy what I know Im going to cook
  • I take the guess work out of what's for lunch because as I prepare each dinner, Im also preparing the next day's lunch
I used to really hate grocery shopping, but now, I don't mind it as much because I'm so much more organized and quicker about it.  Same goes for dinner time, its not nearly as stressful to figure out "Whats for dinner" because I already have a game plan that can be flexible with our schedules.

So pop on over to Ziplist and check it out.  You can thank me later!

**Ziplist did not sponsor this post. They have no idea who I am.  I'm totally sharing this because it has really impacted my life and I hope it will be helpful to others. This is all based on my own preferences and personal experiences with menu planning, budgeting and of course using Ziplist. 

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