It happens to all of us. We set out to grocery shop with the best intentions, but somehow we reach the end of the week having to throw away half of the contents of our fridge. Even if we’re doing all the right things like making a list and not hitting the grocery store hungry, sometimes the produce bin still inevitably ends up in the trash. Clearly this situation is far from ideal. Not only is it frustrating to toss food you never got to eat, but it’s also an unnecessary drain on your wallet. However, here’s the good news: there are some effective and incredibly simple changes you can make in your lifestyle to optimize your grocery shopping habits. The key to success is to buy in the right quantity and quality so that you’ve consumed all your groceries by the time you’re due for your next restock. While in practice this doesn’t happen perfectly every time, the following strategies will help make that margin a whole lot smaller. No complicated list making systems or extensive meal plans required here. All you’ll need is a willingness to try something new. In a week or two, we guarantee that you’ll be amazed at how much food and money you’ll have saved. So if you’re ready to make your next haul both practical and delicious, then keep on reading. Here at Basquet, we’ve got you covered!
How To Grocery Shop Smarter:
1.Spend some time (honestly) tracking your habits:
We get it. There are some weeks where impromptu invitations to lunches and dinners throw off even the best laid plans to cook at home. However, if you’re routinely shopping for more food than you’re eating, then maybe it’s time to take an honest look at your lifestyle. Be realistic about how many times per week you eat out. Look at your social calendar for the month ahead, and factor in any trips or events that will alter your typical eating patterns. If you keep buying certain ingredients that ultimately end up in the trash, then maybe it’s time to drop them from your rotation. Always on the go? Try simplifying with some healthy ready-to-go options like Mylk Labs Strawberry & Madagascar Vanilla Oatmeal for breakfast or Shaman Raman’s Savory Mystic Miso for lunch. Self-awareness is power! The more insight you have into your eating habits, the more you will be able to optimize your grocery runs.
2. Organize your pantry & fridge:
One of the worst moments is when something expires because you forgot you had it. Even if you’re an expert-level shopper, if your fridge and pantry are a mess then you’re going to have a pretty hard time realizing the gains of your efficiency. An absolute must for anyone looking to optimize their grocery shopping habits is to make sure that your food storage spaces are tidy. Having everything clearly visible and categorized will enable you to take inventory before you hit the store, locate products quickly, and prevent unnecessary food waste. Throw on your favorite playlist, grab a can of Minor Figures Oat Matcha Latte, and have a cleaning session. Your future self will thank you!
3. Create a flexible meal plan:
If you’re new to meal planning, then the best way to start is to make it as simple as possible. When we get caught up in hyper detailed schedules and pre-dicing a million different ingredients, then it can feel like your grocery shopping becomes less efficient, not more. In our opinion, the secret to success is flexibility and versatility. Rather than planning out three different meals for every single day of the week, stick to 1-2 breakfasts that you love, 3-4 core meals for lunch and dinner, and a few of your favorite snacks for good measure. An example for a day in the week ahead might look something like Otherworld’s Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes with some Oat Haus Granola Butter for breakfast, a chicken kale wrap with some Not Just Lemon Miso Dressing for lunch, and salmon bowls with Edison Grainery’s Golden Quinoa for dinner. Then the next day you could switch it up by having a smoothie with some granola butter for breakfast, a kale quinoa salad for lunch, and shredded chicken tacos for dinner. Bonus: it’s also a good idea to plan with an open fridge so you don’t buy what you already have at home!
4.Buy individually, not in bulk:
While it may seem like buying in bulk is a smarter move financially, the reality is that buying individual portions is typically a more efficient and cost effective option. The portions in bulk packages often expire before you’re able to eat them leading to food waste and a monetary drain. A more practical strategy is to buy individual quantities (especially when it comes to produce) so that your groceries last just until it’s time for your next repurchase. If you’re looking for some of our favorite single-serve options, check out these suggestions: Sow Good’s Berry Godmother Smoothie, Dada Daily’s Cheesy Cauliflower Florets, and Raaka’s Chocolate Waffle Cone Bars.
5. Preserve ingredients whenever possible:
Grocery shopping is an art not a science, so it’s inevitable that some products will expire. However, if your ingredients are near their point of expiration, then there are actually certain methods of preservation that are a better alternative to throwing them away. Fruits can be frozen to make a great base for smoothies, acai bowls, or yogurts. Veggies can be pickled to make relishes or chutneys or they can be dehydrated into chips for a delicious, healthy snack. The truth is that there are so many creative ways to make your ingredients last longer that the sky's the limit! All it takes is some exploration and openness to trying something new.
About the Author: Andreina Pardey
Andreina is the lead blog contributor at Basquet. She is a storyteller at heart, passionate about understanding people and the things that connect them. You can find her exploring new restaurants, listening to live music, or at her favorite bookstore when she's not writing. Connect with her on LinkedIn.