Organizing a grocery list before heading to the store will help you speed up your shopping trip and get the most bang for your buck.
You can put it together however you’d like–scribbled on paper, a saved list on your phone that you refresh weekly, and yep, there’s also an app for that! Mealime and Yummly are two options to streamline your shopping list and recipes.
There’s a saying that you’ve probably heard, “Shop the perimeter of the store.” The premise is that the perimeter is typically where you’ll find produce, meat/seafood, and dairy. But don’t discount the middle of the store; it’s where you’ll find versatile shelf stable staples like whole grain cereals, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits along with frozen fruits and vegetables and convenience items to stock your freezer.
Organizing your list by section of the store is an easy way to make sure you don’t miss anything you need. List out by section in the order that you visit them in your store. For example, produce, meat/seafood, dry goods, dairy or other refrigerated foods, and frozen foods. Another option is organizing by type of food (fruits and vegetables, proteins, grains, etc.) to help you visualize what menus you can put together for the week. Finally, adding a section for notes on what meals you plan to make may be helpful.
The majority of your shopping list should be staple foods that you can easily incorporate into multiple dishes and meals throughout the week. Think of foods like pasta, brown rice, canned or dried beans, fresh or frozen vegetables, and oils for cooking. Tip: grab staples while they’re on sale because you’ll use them often!
Include a few items earmarked for specific recipes. The amount of time you’ll want to spend in the kitchen varies from person to person and week to week, but 1-2 dinner recipes is a nice start and should yield multiple servings for the week. Recipes can include staple ingredients that are multipurpose as well as more specialized items, like fresh herbs, olives, or a particular cut of meat. Try not to let these special items dominate your list or you may find yourself feeling like you have a lot of food and nothing to eat at the same time.
Plan to have ingredients on hand to make 2-3 breakfast, lunch, and dinner options as well as a few snacks that you can rotate throughout the week. The UHC Nutrition Kitchen recipe archive has plenty of ideas to get you started. Or maybe try out one of our National Nutrition Month 15 Minute Recipes: One Pan Taco Skillet, Peanut Noodles with Edamame, Black Bean & Veggie Quesadilla, Salmon with Pineapple Salsa, or Spicy Noodle Bowl!
Written by: Beth Kindamo, Nutrition Education Coordinator, UHC Health Promotion