We've briefly discussed organic foods and meal planning and now we're moving on to the grocery, or groceries in my case. Before I delve into that, I want to point you in the direction of a great article I recently read about organic milk. Katie goes into a lot more depth than I did and I think you'll find her information very informative.
So now that you've got your menu planned, it's time to make your grocery list. Since I'm generally on the computer searching and selecting recipes, I've found it's much easier to just type my menu and grocery list in Word (on the same page). I actually save my menus/lists from week to week so I can refer back to them when making future food posts or to recall the names of certain recipes so I can go back and record any notes I might have for that recipe.
I divide my list into 2 columns - one for Meijer and one for Whole Foods. There are some items that are cheaper at Meijer and I find it worth my (Wes' since he's the grocery shopper) while to venture to 2 stores to get the best deals. There are other items that Meijer either doesn't offer or doesn't offer as organic. Those items fall on the Whole Foods list. It's also nice to go to 2 stores in case one doesn't have an item, we can usually find it at our next stop. I'm a big believer in limiting the number of trips to the grocery, so this helps cut down on that.
So I've got my 2 columns started and then I begin reviewing the recipes to see what items I need. I try to arrange the items on my list in the order they appear in the grocery. This makes it much quicker to shop and I also feel like it's the least I can do for Wes since he's doing the shopping with at least 1 kid in tow! By making the list in Word, it's easy enough to go back and add a line or move things around in order to keep it all neat and organized. Wes being the efficient shopper he is marks the items off as he goes along, circling the items he was unable to locate.
The end result is a pantry and fridge stocked with just enough to get us by that week. There's little to no waste and no impulse buying. Sure we have the occasional deviations if something is on sale or something catches our eye, but for the most part we stick to the list. Wes takes a lot of pride in his efficiency and loves to report how little we spent.
I know some people cut coupons and I think that's great but most of the items I buy do not offer coupons. You don't find too many coupons for fresh produce or meat. I read once that you should concentrate the majority of your time and budget to the perimeter of the store. Think about it, that's your produce, meats, and dairy - makes sense.
And just one last word on convenience foods, specifically pre-chopped fruits and veggies. As easy and tempting as these products are, they are not equal to their whole counterparts. Johnny Bowden, PhD, and author of "The Healthiest Meals on Earth" says, "When sliced and peeled, or shredded, then shipped to stores, their nutrients are significantly reduced." So when possible, buy whole and prep right before you're ready to cook. At a minimum, be sure to use your fresh produce within a week of buying.
To read more about the nutritional value of fruits and veggies, you can check out a story on MSNBC here.