First we plan the menu.
Then we shop.
Shopping is an all day experience for us. We start by taking inventory of what we have in the cupboards – there’s never anything left in the refrigerators! We have a monthly staples google sheet that lists items we use regularly and want to have on hand- everything from string cheese to celery seed. Once we know what we have (inventory) and what we need (menu planning). Now it’s time to come up with a shopping list. Our spreadsheet is organized by store – through trial and error we’ve found better prices or quality or selection of certain items at different stores- and since I’m only going once a month it’s easy enough to get the best items at the best prices. Then we go through our menu and see what we need for each meal. We have a set of the vintage primary Pyrex mixing bowls that we use to serve meals from- green for veggies, blue for protein, red for fruits and yellow for grains. We try to have something in each bowl for each meal. This means when we’re making our shopping lists we are adding in fruits & veggies that may not have been explicit on the menu. Example: Monday’s Menu says Spaghetti -Shopping list needs include: Spaghetti noodles, pasta sauce, meat/meatballs, salad greens, salad dressing, assorted fruit. (Note: in the summer months I’ll often buy noodles and bread -when it’s 98 degrees here – there will be no bread baking in this house with no A/C!).
Dressed up for Grocery Shopping
We shop as a ‘6 pack. All of us go to all the stores on shopping days. This definitely adds time to the process, but also gives our kids a sense of where their food comes from- not just the farmers at market but which items are available in organic or not, fresh or frozen etc. To keep their spirits up and make it more of an adventure we’ve done all sorts of things- R blogged about our ‘dress up’ shopping day here.
Then all that’s left is organizing your shopping – we tend to go to the bulk stores first. If we can’t get something there we thought we could, we can more easily pick it up at smaller store. Additionally, we have a large cooler we keep in the car to keep frozen food frozen. On really hot days, we pack more coolers to keep refrigerated items an appropriate temperature too- remember they sit in the car as we shop at other stores!
Lastly, we do get some items delivered- we have a local dairy, King Brothers’ Dairy, that delivers milk and other assorted dairy products- we get milk and buttermilk regularly. This saves us needing to buy 8-10 gallons of milk a month and lets us source it locally.
By the time we get home the kids are hungry but generally still help with unloading, sorting and storing food. We are always trying to figure out ways to balancing our consumption of food with decreasing out food packaging, but much of our food does get unpackaged as soon as it comes in the house- I find it gets used better, and quicker in the case of perishables, if it is already separated, unpacked or opened.