Grocery Shopping for Busy Brides

Guys, I have this weird obsession with grocery shopping and meal planning. Like, I absolutely love it. That hasn’t always been the case, though. When I got my first apartment and was required to grocery shop for myself, I absolutely despised it. I remember thinking, “How in the world am I supposed to find what I need? And what DO I need?? Will I ever eat a normal meal for the rest of my life, unless I go see my parents?” I actually wish I had recorded what I purchased that day, because if I had one guess I’d say it was a huge box of goldfish, a bottle of red wine, and maybe some milk for good measure (and I don’t even drink milk).

But that was years ago, and today grocery shopping is literally one of my favorite things to do. If I could get paid to grocery shop and meal plan for people, I would absolutely do it in a heartbeat.

So because I’ve been there and now how excruciatingly painful it is to grocery shop when you have zero clue what you are doing (or you’re starting to kinda sorta figure it out but you end up with random meals and/or way too much or too little food), I’m sharing some tried and true grocery shopping tips with you today!

Bookmark this one to come back to each week until you get the hang of it!

 Caroline Lima Photography

Caroline Lima Photography

Do some loose meal planning before you go.

I used to be a pretty detailed meal planner, planning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the entire week prior to going to the grocery store. I found that I wasted a lot of food when I did that, because most of the time there were snacks that didn’t get eaten, or leftovers that took the place of a meal I planned. These days, I do some very loose meal planning, which typically includes one overarching breakfast (usually protein shakes or oatmeal because I can keep the ingredients much longer without them spoiling), one lunch option (because I tend to gravitate towards the same quick lunches every day), and 1-2 proteins with 2-3 veggie options. This makes for a quick grocery trip and I have literally dozens of meal options. For instance, I can make stir fry with the protein and veggies, but I can also make a casserole, crock pot meal, or breakfast bowl!

Stick to basics.

Most people find basic ingredients boring, but with experience, you’ll find basics are not only easy to buy and keep on hand, but they can also be the basis for hundreds of tasty meal options! In our household, a basic grocery list includes:

  • Old-fashioned oats

  • Eggs (we get these from the ducks on our farm, but if you don’t have chickens or ducks roaming around, you need to add them to your grocery list!)

  • Two fresh green veggies (for us, it’s usually a combo of spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans)

  • One additional fresh veggie (typically carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes, or squash)

  • One fruit (apples, peaches, pears, and berries are our go-to!)

  • Two proteins (usually chicken and beef or pork for us)

  • Yogurt (to add to smoothies for extra protein)

That’s it! That typically gets us through five weekdays, with a different meal for dinner each night.

Add herbs and spices to your grocery list once every few months.

This is how I keep our meals different and so they don’t become boring. We have a huge variety of spices in our spice cabinet because it’s a quick and easy way to make a meal taste completely different, even if you are using the same protein and veggies. Some of my favorites include: cinnamon, crushed red pepper, chili powder, cumin, curry, basil, and parsley. While you’re at it, find some sauces you love and keep those on hand, too! We love ginger marinade, garlic hot sauce, sriracha, and balsamic vinegar.

Stick to what you know and love.

When you have a busy week coming up, or a lot of wedding planning meetings, stick to your favorite tried-and-true recipes. I have a few recipes that I know will never let me down because I’ve made them so much and I can basically make them with my eyes closed. Those are the ones you want to keep in your back pocket for the days you really only have a few minutes to make a quick meal! One of my favorite tried-and-true recipes is a quick one-pan stir fry. I’ve made it so many times that even changing the marinade is quick and easy now. I’ll sometimes do a basic chicken and vegetable with Asian marinade, or chicken and broccoli with peanut sauce, or beef and vegetable with sesame sauce. It takes me 15 minutes, max, to make and has all fresh ingredients in it!

Need more meal planning and grocery list inspiration? I’ll be sharing plenty of these tips and some downloadable meal plans and checklists with my email subscribers soon, so make sure you’re on the list!

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