How do I Adult: Grocery Shopping

Now that we’ve gone over cooking it’s time to address another scary adult task: grocery shopping. Grocery shopping and cooking are fairly intertwined tasks since they are both ultimately about what you eat and impact each other quite a bit. So if you find grocery shopping an overwhelming task, that’s ok! I am here for you.

Get Organized

Getting organized is a very important part of grocery shopping. You’re going to want to have at least some idea of what you need and what you want to get before you ever leave the house. The first thing is knowing about what cooking level you are. NOTE: This is not about where you want to be, it’s about where you are. What can you do. Challenging yourself to do more is wonderful, but remember to do it one step at a time. Don’t go and grab a week’s worth of level 3 groceries when you are only comfortable at level 1.

Next you need to figure out for about how long you are shopping: for instance, it’s fairly common for people to shop once a week, and get one week’s worth of groceries at a time. However, some people shop more often, and other people shop less often. Figuring out how long you need the food to last will help you figure out how much of it to get. I’ll be writing this with the assumption of one week of food; you should adjust that to whatever works best for you.

Ok. So assuming you want to shop for one week, that means seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and seven dinners, plus any snacks you may want to have.

You are generally safe grabbing something quick and simple to have for breakfasts – cold or hot cereal, microwavable oatmeal, that sort of thing. Many of these things are bought in large packages that will last you for many meals, so when you are making your grocery list, check to see how your breakfast supplies are doing. If you are running low, add them to the list.

Lunches are often level 1 meals – things like leftovers from previous dinners, sandwiches, or easy microwavable meals. Some people simply choose to get take-out or food from a lunch truck during the week, in which case you only need to worry about lunch on the weekends. Personally, I like to make sure I always have a variety of easy microwavable meals on hand to eat, and then I add “lunches” to my list when I run low. You may want to be much more specific than that when you are making your list.

Dinners are where it gets more serious. How many people need to be fed? What sort of meals do you want to make, and how much effort do you want to put into your meals? Do you want to make big meals that will have a lot of leftovers? It really helps to plan what sort of dinners you will want to make for the week ahead of time, and then get the necessary supplies.

For instance, Nee and I like to do one or two level 3 meals per week. We will decide ahead of time what we want them to be and write down the ingredients we need to get on our grocery list. We also make sure to have a number of level 2 meals on hand (usually frozen bag meals and pasta for us), and make a point to refresh our supply when we get low.

Snacks are really up to you. Do you like to snack during the day? Do you like to have dessert after a meal? You can consider things like chips, pretzels, crackers, and cookies to keep around for munching on.

Make your list

As you get an idea of what you need to buy and how much of it you need to get, write out your grocery list. You will need to decide for yourself how specific you need that list to be – can you just write “lunches” and know what that means, or will it be better for you to write out exactly what sort of lunches you want to get? If you aren’t sure, I would lean towards being more specific rather than less. However, you might be exploring, figuring out what to get in the first place, in which case a number might be better. Like maybe “7 microwavable meals” or something.

Look through your pantry and refrigerator to see what you already have and what you are running low on to help figure out what you need. Write down any ingredients you may need for meals.

Grocery stores also often sell things like cleaning supplies, paper towels, and toilet paper. It can be useful to take a look at your various supplies to see if you need more of any. If you do, add them to the list as well.

Once you have your list written out, it’s time to go to the store.

Bring with you:

Your list
A pen
Money, checks, or a bank or credit card to pay with (a bank or credit card will often be the easiest way to handle the transaction)
If you use them, your reusable bags

Next up, the grocery store! If you’re pretty sure already that the store is just too much for you, that’s ok! Skip ahead to page 3.

(as usual, you may need to scroll down to find the page buttons)


Filed under How do I Adult

3 responses to “How do I Adult: Grocery Shopping

  1. Andrew

    Good one! A couple of additions from my own experience:
    1. Stores change their layout! I haven’t worked out any regular time frame or routine they do it on but it happens so be aware that if you can’t find stuff where you expect it, it could have moved.
    2. Another option to going item to item on your list is to start at one end and go aisle by aisle until you reach the other. This strategy minimises backtracking and it is possible to skip aisles you know you have nothing down. Usually the fridges and freezes are down one end so I start at the other so…
    3. I do them last. Getting the cold and frozen food last minimises how long they have to warm up. In is also possible to buy insulated bags so they don’t heat up too much in the car too, especially useful in hotter climates like Australia.
    4. Have a look at the specials and don’t be afraid to buy in bulk. Some things like toilet paper don’t go off so buying lots, especially when it’s cheap, can end up really saving you money. We do milk like this because 4 cereals every morning so it does go pretty quick.

    • Andrew

      Oh in number 2, I mean you start at one end of the shop and go aisle by aisle to the other. Just for clarity.

    • Good points about layouts and getting cold things last! Both very true.

      I thought about including the aisle by aisle option, but I decided that was a slightly more advanced option. You either need to have your list written in the same order the store is laid out in, or you need to be able to keep track of your list while going out of order. In the second case, I have found that when I do that I inevitably miss things and wind up bouncing around the store anyway.

      Also good point about buying in bulk. If I ever do a post on keeping a budget (not sure I will, as I think it’s out of my range), it’s definitely something to include.