In my 4 part series, this one can often be the one that takes the least amount of time (other than making the trip there). Luckily for me, I live about 5 min from our Aldi, Schnucks and Target so all my bases are covered. Here are my tips on making grocery shopping effortless, affordable and fun!
1. Write out your list as you plan your meals - Remember your calendar? I like to shop 1x a week if possible so make your list with the ingredients you need for your up-coming week's dinners. I make my list on a dry erase board b/c I'm OCD and don't like a list I might have to cross off or change. Then, when it's time to go to the store, I take a photo of it with my phone. That way, I'm not wasting paper!
2. Arrange your list based on your go-to store's layout. If produce is first, write those items down first so you aren't scrambling all over the store. This is a HUGE time saver.
3. Go to the store - haha, this one is seriously a step b/c I really only have time for 1 store. Most of what I need can be found at Aldi or if they don't have it, I'll swing by Schnucks. But since I have become very familiar with their inventory, I will likely only make meals with items I can get there. Or pick them up at Target b/c all my other shopping needs seem to be met there =)
4. Stick to the list! (sort of) - 90% of the time, I stick to my list and do not sway from it. This saves me time, money, and from buying junk or something that "looks good". Here's my exception for the other 10% - when they have seasonal items on sale (like .99 pineapple or .99 strawberries) or a buy in bulk item that won't go bad (like sweet potatoes or onions). Nobody wants to go to the store 2x a week because you forgot onions=( I recently went and Aldi had grass-fed beef for $3.49/pound. This is the cheapest I would find grass fed beef so I bought like 15 of them. So my budgeting may have been off for the month, but over the course of 2 months, that would even out.
5. Buy what you NEED for that week - We do prioritize some food items organic, so our bill can be expensive. It's been through trial and error that I have figured out about how much we spend. It can get easy for me to stock up on TONS of items that I really don't need b/c they are seasonal, etc. If pineapple is on sale but you don't have any ideas for it, nor know how to cut it, then don't buy it! Even if spinach is on sale, I can't really stock up b/c we can only go through 2 containers a week. The rest of it will get wilty and I hate throwing away spoiled food!
6. Look for substitutes - Sometimes, my store of choice is missing 1 thing off my list. I will not drive to another store for 1 thing. I have before and I end up with a cart-full (hopefully you feel me on that one!). So I will look around for an alternative. Maybe brussel sprouts as my side instead of asparagus or using almond milk instead of whole milk. This doesn't work 100% of the time, but it gives you some ideas.
I hope I gave you some tips for how to navigate your store of choice and plan out your trip. I seriously love grocery shopping now b/c I have made it not so daunting. Let me know if you have any tips to share!