Veggies cut, prepped and labeled for upcoming meals.
There is no way to discuss grocery shopping for a family our size without also discussing meal planning. When we first got married, Chuck and I went grocery shopping together. On our bikes. Really. I was pregnant with Adalia and we lived in Hawaii and didn’t own a car. Every Saturday we’d hop on our bikes, ride to the store, then fill our backpacks and saddlebags with enough food for a week. If you want to save money at the grocery store, ride your bike to do the shopping. It drastically cuts back on impulse buys. It aids in weight loss too. All the better if you live in Hawaii like we did. Buying ice cream is completely out of the question!
when I first got married, I approached grocery shopping exactly as I’d observed my mom doing it. On the day I was planning on shopping, I’d pull out a piece of paper and pen and assemble a list. If I was feeling especially ambitious, I’d even walk over to the pantry and see what was in it. I never planned meals. Cooking dinner every night was already a task I didn’t enjoy. Why prolong the suffering with things like meal plans?
Fast forward to today. I now have a printed list of everything we shop for. It hangs on a clipboard in our pantry. As we run out of an item, it gets highlighted on the list. The day before I actually head out to grocery shop, I get the clipboard, do a quick inventory of the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and highlight any additional items. I then get the calendar and plan out our meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While I positively dread the job of meal planning, it makes the week flow so much more smoothly. I know I have the ingredients for each meal we will eat (for two weeks at a time). A new thing I’ve recently added it posting this list on the refrigerator. My twelve-year-old, Tilly, is in charge of cooking breakfast, so this makes her job easier. If I am busy and need help preparing lunch, if I’m out of the house later than usual, or just need some extra hands, the meal plan can be checked.
I only take one child grocery shopping with me at a time. It’s all about logistics. We drive a 15 passenger van, and if it is filled with children, there is nowhere to put groceries. If you’ve ever been in one of these vans filled to capacity, you know what I’m talking about. Instead, I take our Jeep, and we fold the back seat down to contain our groceries.
We shop primarily a Costco, Cash & Carry (a restaurant supply store), Wal-Mart and a local grocery store. I shop every two weeks. Some times Chuck does the shopping. When I get home from stocking up, we immediately put the groceries away. My goal is always to prep the food and assemble a few meals, as we put the groceries away. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s ideal. I blogged here back in 2007 about our method of assembling four to six meals (for a family of 12- imagine how many meals that would be for an “average” family) while we unload the groceries.
A big job is done, in half a day. With a stocked pantry and a printed plan, I’m ready to take on life’s challenges.