Walking into a grocery store can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially when you’re new to cooking and shopping on your own. But once you’ve become a master of your store layout and avoiding traffic jams, it can be easy, and kind of fun!
The first thing to do before hitting the store is to make a detailed list. What helps to save money and time at the store is writing up dinner plans for the week. Once you’ve decided on meals for each night, you can start making your list of ingredients.
If you’re trying to stay healthy, deciding your meals beforehand can really help you stay on track, since you’re stuck with the ingredients you bought for that meal. No more substituting your veggies for some nice, buttery garlic bread.
But you’re not done yet. Most people eat three meals a day, so you have to add suitable items to your list for breakfast and lunch every day.
You know your schedule and eating habits best, so it’s up to you to decide whether you want to plan each and every meal you eat, or just buy general ingredients for breakfast and lunch.
People are often busier during the morning and afternoon hours, so maybe you don’t want to buy food for every day if you’re not even going to be home. A good idea is to plan for a few breakfast and lunches at home, so you could buy some cereal, yogurt and sandwich makings, for example.
Once you have your list, it’s time to hit your local grocery store. No matter what store you’re at, it’s best to follow the flow of traffic so it’s not you causing the traffic jams and running over people’s toes.
So you have your list, but everything on it is scattered throughout the store. Do not follow the order of your list, this will cause you great frustration. The best advice is to weave your way through all the aisles of the store, whether you need something in that aisle or not.
Scan your list as you go through each aisle and grab what you need. This way you won’t forget anything, and you can add things you might have forgotten on your list.
This method requires a lot of willpower however, as going through every aisle makes it a lot easier to throw unneeded items like chips and cookies into your cart. According to a University of Pennsylvania article on impulse buying, 60-70 percent of purchases are unplanned.
Sure, throw a few snacks into your cart, but plan for those snacks on your grocery list. The best way to stay healthy, especially in college, is to not surround yourself with unhealthy food. It’s easier to go straight to the pantry and eat a bag of chips for lunch than make yourself a nice sandwich. But if you don’t have access to the junk, then you won’t eat it. It’s that simple.
It might start off hard, but once you get the hang of grocery shopping and planning meals, it becomes nothing more than a weekly chore that some people even look forward to.