Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Way to Shop

Hello all,

A few weeks ago I was talking about the fact that I make a shopping list using Microsoft Excel and have it organized the way my grocery store is set up. I was asked to share a sample. So here goes.

The sample below was created two weeks ago. A new list is created every 8-10 days. I sit down and look at our schedules. Are there work events we need to be aware of? Happy hours? Or a night we plan to see a movie and might get dinner out. From that point, I start to look at various recipes and get a meal plan together. This shopping list, for the two of us, is pretty full and detailed. This past Saturday we were planning a birthday party for Jason, complete with plenty of sangria and a full Taco Bar. But I have to say, a party for 16 people and a weeks worth of meals (10), the planning was very helpful and our spending was very controlled ($6/meal/person). That doesn't include the cost of alcohol for the sangria though!!!!

I kind of feel like I'm sharing my deep, dark secrets by sharing this list...
Click to embiggen.

My grocery store is laid out with veggies first, then dairy, deli & bakery, then the middle aisles, then the meat counter, then the snacks and frozen stuff. With a list like this, I can get in and out in record time! The list I went with last night got me $100 in groceries in 20 minutes. Done and Done.

Speaking of this weeks meal plan; I recently received my new issue of Everyday Food. We both sat down and flipped through and I decided that each meal I make this week will be based off the recipes in the issue.

Here is the "Meal Notes" of my current shopping list:

Tues: Chicken w/angel hair and capers (pg 14)
Wed: On Our Own
Thurs: Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops (pg 111) & Caramelized Green Beans w Pine Nuts (pg 103)
Fri: Turkey Bolognese (pg 28)
Sat: Cornmeal Crusted Fishsticks (pg 49) & Rosemary Garlic Potatoes (pg 58)
Sun: Leftover Bolognese
Mon: Irish Hand Pies (pg 57) (freeze half) (Thaw frozen ground beef)
Tues: Baked Penne w Chicken (pg 77) w Roasted tomatoes

Page numbers are included for ease of looking the recipes up later.

I include the meal notes on my shopping list in case I forget what I'm making, which happens often. It also provides me opportunities to make smart changes while shopping. I may see green beans on the list, but can't find them in the store. If I can look at where they fit in the menu I can decide how best to substitute them. After the grocery shopping is complete and the food is put away, the meal notes are posted on the fridge as a reminder of what we're having and when. Sure, sometimes I'll flip some things around, but we'll know that for the next several we'll have that meal at some point.

If you have the current issue of Everyday Food, you might already start to notice some substitutions I've made to their recipes. I don't like artichokes, which were supposed to be in last night's Chicken Cutlets with Artichokes and Capers. I substituted one roasted red pepper. Stick around for those photos and that recipe!

So there you have it. The way I grocery shop. During the summer when we have the farmer's market, I'm off the list and make decisions based on what's available fresh. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to cook and I'll fill the list with grubby stuff like tater tots and cans of soup. This technique works for us and really helps to keep us on budget. This technique also helps me try to plan some of my "Two from One" meal plans.

How do you shop?


Mia said...

Um, I think I'm in love! Thank you for sharing. I'm totally going to create a spreadsheet like this. I list out my groceries in order by aisle at the store, too!

DC Food Blog said...

I am in deep awe. When I was living in a group house, we have a grocery list where we had to check inventory every week. Our budget was $20 per person/per week.

Stef said...

This is pretty amazing. Since I've really only been cooking regularly for the last few months, I'm new to the habit of grocery list-making, and I'm learning how key it is. Now I just have to remember to get the list out of my purse when I'm at the store, cuz I've forgotten a few key ingredients that way! It's definitely important to have a list when you're buying ingredients, whereas before I was just buying meal-in-a-box prepared and frozen foods. Much better change!

ScottE. said...

We keep a list on the fridge to fill in with thing we know we're running low, brown sugar, oatmeal, etc. Then the rest of it comes from menu planning.

Now, I have to admit I apparently left pork chops off this weeks list and we're supposed to have that for dinner tonight, so I have to adjust the menu and make a stop at the store this weekend to get the chops. It happens!

When I go to the store without a list or a menu plan, I'm lost. I literally wander around until I'm inspired. I also tend to buy lots of stuff I don't need.