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5 Secrets to Organize Your Groceries

Believe me, I realize what a ridiculously sounding title that is. THAT being said, organizing your groceries from the shopping cart, to bagging, to unloading, and the putting them away can be transformational.

Raise your hand if you are the primary grocery shopper in your family (mine is raised). Let me share with you my five secrets to organizing your grocery shopping experience to ensure that it is as pain free and efficient as possible:

1. Do have a shopping list, it doesn't need to be written down, in a phone note, or even printed on an excel sheet (like mine is), just have a plan for what you are going to make for the period of time. This means that if you shop once per week, you have those meals planned out. If you shop once per two weeks or once per month, have that entire time period planned out. Don't just plan for the dinners, but what you will need for snacks, and enough fixings for breakfast. In my home, lunches are always fixings from leftover dinner the night before. And NO, we don't always have leftovers, but we make our best effort to make extra so that there will be (this means less prep, less clean-up, and less time headache thinking about what you are going to eat). But why does having a meal plan matter? Having a predetermined list can help stay on budget, make grocery store trips quicker, and make buying healthy food easier as junk food tends not to be on the list in the first place. On this train, do not go grocery shopping when you are hungry.

2. Food prep is your best friend and it should be done right away! Making healthy food choices is easier when there isn't a choice to make. When you look in the refrigerator and you have all scrumptious looking veggies already washed and cut that you can grab them and go, you will actually get in your veggies for the day (instead of opting for Hot Takis, or whatever your guilty pleasure is). There are no barriers. It's when you look at the cucumbers still inside their wrapping, stuck behind the leftovers from three weeks ago that are growing mold, that you skip the healthy option and go for what's in reach or worse buy something when your fridge and/or pantry is fully stocked. In our household, we food prep on Mondays (grocery shopping day) for the week. The weekends are always leftovers, maybe eating out a meal, or on the fly as needed.

3. Glass (or clear plastic) containers - Make your groceries visible. My biggest pet-peeve are groceries that have gone bad, talk about a waste of money and resources. Having things in glass and organized by like-ness means that nothing goes missing and there are no mystery containers that inevitably will get mold. Mind you that this is coming from a girl that was raised in a household where finding moldy things in the fridge was almost an every day occurrence. In fact, should I feel the urge to organize a certain family member's fridge when visiting, you can bet I will find something moldy. Now, as an adult, it is with great joy that I can dedicate one entire drawer to my glass tupperware. I made the investment a while back and it is so worth it. Many of my clients aspire to having an actual tupperware drawer and it IS transformational.

4. Use a meal plan: Over the years, I have begun to compile an ongoing list of healthy meals I can quickly whip up, with their associated ingredients (it's all on that one spreadsheet I mentioned earlier). It tells me what I'll need to buy, when I'll eat it, and how I can use leftovers. The best meal plans are sequential by leftovers that can easily be turned into the next day's meal. An example of this are Monday's go to, Pan-Fried Veggie Bowls. Grocery shopping happens on all Mondays, before I put anything into the fridge and pantry, I get chopping and put in two sheets of veggies. Come dinner time, we each compile our own bowl, throw on some dressing and dinner is made. For Tuesday's dinner, which is always Burger Bowls (notice a theme here?), we pull from the previous day's prepped and cooked pan fried veggies and guess what, we only make the burgers that night and cut up some fresh avocados. The week's meals continue in this thoughtful and easy manner. My whole meal plan covers the entire month, many meals are repeats because they are healthy and nutritious. It is a game changer. Do I use it religiously, absolutely not. BUT, it's a quarter piece of paper, it's always in my purse, there's a second copy on the cooking oils lazy susan/spinner, and it is there if I need it. I'll pull from this master calendar on average four nights out of the week. This is Taco Tuesday for some families, and similar for our family, we have designated nights of who is cooking and what.

5. Bag your groceries by type. Always bag your groceries based on where they will go in the kitchen. Don't make extra work for yourself, put your back-up pantry items together, snacks, freezer items, and fresh veggies. Getting and staying organized means taking those little steps to make life easier. Don't waste your time with 10 trips back and forth when it could be one.

So yes, this still sounds like a totally ridiculous title, and yet, organizing your grocery shopping is a game changer and worth it. Over the course of a week, you can save a lot of time and money. Imagine that compounding over a year and over your lifetime. It just makes sense.

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