I've been meaning to do a post about this, though I do have an old post about menu planning alone, this is much more detail! - and I found some articles that gave me some inspiration:
50 Shopping tips!
Why NOT to use a basket for shopping!
Very interesting read, I think. I'll have to do some "people watching" and see if there's any truth behind it, but, I can see how that might happen. My strategy for quick trips is usually no basket, no cart. That way, when my hands are full, I'm outta there. Having something to carry it in is just an invitation to browse!
So for me, and this should be no great surprise, I'm super organized with my shopping. Before training (yes, I've been a completely slacker since) I make menus in 2 week sets. I separate my list in a notebook, menus on one side, list on the other. I use basic categories (fruit/veg, meat, dairy, dry/canned, other). I take the whole book to the store, coupons in the pocket if I have them. I really *try* not to deviate from the list, but, crap happens and sometimes a sale can't be passed up. I'm also a freak about an organized cart. (good lord, I'm realizing how this post points out just HOW type A I really am, yikes!) I mainly keep the cart organized because it helps at checkout (#TypeA).
When I check out, I separate my stuff, with my bags in between. You sometimes have to tell the cashier what you're doing, otherwise they'll pick them all up! This way, when I get home, everything is organized so that putting things away is as quick and as painless as possible.
As for how many menus? Well, that depends on your family. There are 2 of us, I typically cook meals that have 4 servings. If it has 8, I try to freeze 4, so that way we have a ready to go meal later! (I have to brag for a moment, I've done a LOT of cooking this summer and have probably 30+ frozen meals in the freezer for the fall!). Anyway - for the 2 weeks, for the 2 of us, I typically plan 10 different meals. Doing 14 is FAR to many, you'll never eat it all. 10 Allows for "I don't want any of this, let's go out/eat cereal for dinner" and for leftovers!
Some things you're gonna need....
- Rubbermaid containers like these... they have holes that vent and will keep my spinach and/or fresh chopped veggies too.
- A notebook. I prefer a medium sized one. It fits in a pocketbook well and isn't overly large like a regular sized one. Get one with either hard plastic or cardboard on the outside. You'll be using it daily for referencing menus, taking it to the store, etc. So, it needs to be a little rugged.
- Some place to gather menu ideas. I subscribe to Food & Family (watch the recipes here, not always the healthiest, but can be easily modified), and Clean eating. I also have many cookbooks, and frequent numerous online websites for recipes too!
- Put a small magnetic whiteboard on your fridge. Write out the places you shop (for us, it says "grocery," "costco," "target"). Keep those there all the time and once you run out of something, write it down. (do it immediately or I promise you'll forget!). This is REALLY helpful so that you keep a stock of staples in the house and only really buy what you need when you hit the store.
So, that's how I (usually!) keep myself on track. It's a bit of a process, and it takes a little bit to get used to doing (time wise). But, the good thing is, that once you do it a time or two, it just gets easier. I can't even remember how we did it before. But, I can tell you, that we don't ever just not eat or wind up eating "whatever" because we couldn't decide what to make. It also helps with the grocery bill! I should say, the main reason for using a notebook is so that you can reference your menus later. When I go to plan, I typically look back at the old menus for suggestions, things we haven't eaten lately, etc.
Happy menu planning!
Questions for YOU!
Do you menu plan? If not, what do you do?
Do you organize your cart or just throw it all in?
Do you keep things together when your groceries get bagged?
How do you keep yourself on the list/budget?