Does the thought of going to the grocery store conjure up negative emotions for you? Do you experience anxiety, depression or procrastinate the task? If you are like me, you don't enjoy grocery shopping. You wait in line. You self-checkout. You navigate the parking lot. You get stuck in traffic on the way home. You lug the bags inside. You put everything away. Then you order a pizza! There has to be a better way!
By day I am quite analytical. By night I'm creative and the kitchen is the place where I get to express my creativity. I love to cook. I love to make something out of nothing, or what appears to my family to be "nothing". They'll open the fridge and claim that there's nothing to eat. While I open the fridge and see opportunity. Yes, cooking makes me happy. Cooking is my love language. I love to prepare home cooked meals for my family. We all benefit. I get to relax by slicing and dicing and my family gets a healthy dinner. We look forward to dinner because it is quality family time. We have a tradition of doing "high point, low point". We each take a turn sharing our high and low point of the day. Sharing our low point is optional, sharing our high point is not. We've found that it is a great way to connect and share about our day.
So, while I love cooking, I don't love grocery shopping. In fact I hate going grocery shopping so much that I have boycotted going to the grocery store. It's been well over a year since I've gone grocery shopping. Yes. Over a year! I don't miss it. Not even one little bit. Are you wondering if you should boycott the grocery store too? It is easy with just a bit of planning. I'll share with you the 3 steps I take in order to be able to pursue my passion of cooking while avoiding an activity that I despise.
Step 1: Start With A Plan
There are different ways to plan ahead. First...you need a source of inspiration. Since I like to make at least one new recipe per week, for relaxation I'll look at cookbooks or cooking websites and choose a new recipe to put on my dinner menu for the upcoming week. I check my pantry, refrigerator and freezer for what I have on hand as sources of inspiration. I call it "Cooking From The Pantry." A bag of dried split peas means we can have split pea soup next Wednesday. Arborio rice...wonderful! I'll make risotto on Saturday.
I consult with my family for inspiration. Try this: tonight at dinner, ask your family what they would like to eat in the upcoming week. Keep a pen and paper handy to record their wishes. Another idea to try, the next time your spouse asks you "What's for dinner?" reply back with, "What would you like to have for dinner?". Tell them you can put that on the menu for next week. If your kids groan about what you're making for dinner, ask what they would rather be having. Tell them that you think their suggestion is a great idea and then promise to make it for dinner in the next week or two. Thank them for their input and tell them you appreciate their idea! As they enjoy their requested meal they'll remember that you honored their request and that they helped you with the task of coming up with a plan for dinner. Everybody is happy.
Another great way to meal plan is to use a meal planning service. A quick Google search provides plenty of ways to plan meals. It may take some experimenting to find the ideal way to meal plan so keep trying until you find the method or combination of methods that work for you. I like to keep it simple. In my kitchen I have a spiral bound notebook and a pen. Usually I plan two weeks worth of dinners. Left overs are either my lunch the next day or I reinvent them for a new meal. Left over veggies are great for egg scrambles in the morning!
Step 2: Keep A List
At all times I have an ongoing list next to the menu. When I am running low on something or I've used the last of it, "it" goes on "THE LIST". When my husband or son ask me to buy something, I ask them to add it to "THE LIST". They know that if it isn't on "THE LIST" that it probably won't make it into the kitchen. They understand the benefit of writing it down on "THE LIST".
Because I do "THE LIST" the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, it is a simple process to take it with me to the pantry, fridge, and freezer. I see what we have on hand for recipes over the next couple of weeks and add the missing ingredients to "THE LIST".
Step 3: Shop Online
After you've created your menu and grocery list you get to enjoy the third step which is online grocery shopping. You get to have someone shop for you! There are two shopping services/delivery services that I use. In our area we are fortunate to have a wonderful service called Red Apron Grocery redaprongrocery.com. I place an order for delivery with them on a regular basis. I also use Walmart for non-perishable items including 40 lb. bags of dog food!
What used to be a 2 hour less-than-pleasurable task now takes less than 20 minutes. With "THE LIST" next to my computer I open both Walmart and Red Apron Grocery websites in two separate windows. I order non-perishables, toiletries, cleaning supplies and dog food from Walmart. Everything else comes from Red Apron. Walmart takes a few days for delivery and items get delivered on different days so I make sure that menu items that I need right away are on my Red Apron Grocery order. It is a beautiful thing to see your groceries on your front porch waiting for you when you get home from work. I also love the experience of not spending my Saturday morning at the grocery store and simply opening the door to the delivery person. I can place an order on Friday night and the groceries are delivered the next morning!
Online grocery shopping offers other conveniences like being able to shop from anywhere. Last summer I ordered groceries while we were on the lake enjoying a beautiful West Michigan summer day. I've shopped for groceries on a Thursday night in Tennessee and had them delivered by 9:30am on Saturday. On a road trip to Chicago I was able to complete 3 weeks of menu planning and grocery ordering! Oh, Happy Day!!!
BONUS: 3 Benefits of Online Grocery Shopping
1) The discipline of making a menu and a grocery list helps keep you honest. There is virtually no temptation to get sweets or junk food when placing an internet grocery order so it is easier to maintain healthy eating choices. Also, I no longer hear, "Mom, can we get this? Please can we get this? Pleeease?".
2) It is easy to stay on budget. Since you have a running total being displayed to you with each item added to your cart you know exactly how much you are spending. You aren't surprised at the end! Additionally, there is less temptation to make impulse purchases with online grocery shopping. You don't see the clearance or sale displays. You don't see the cute new clothes, nail polish, or holiday items. You buy what is on your list. When your menu is planned in advance and your shopping is done for you and your pantry is full, there is less reason to spend money on restaurant meals or pizza.
3) You can use your time more effectively. Time is precious. What would you rather be doing? I can think of lots of things I would rather do than go to the grocery store. Life is short. Having someone else do the tasks you would rather not do is a great idea! With minimal effort you can create a menu plan and a list. In less than 20 minutes you can shop once for two weeks worth of meals. It is easy. Make the menu, make the list, and make fewer trips to the place you want to avoid!
How much money do you spend on groceries and restaurants?
If your answer is, "Too much!" it may be time for a no-fee cash flow consultation. In my experience, those who answer "Too much!" know they should be making other decisions and want expert advice on how to redirect their spending. Those who engage in the financial planning process are able to see and appreciate how spending patterns today can impact their lifestyle in retirement.
Melissa Myers, CFP®
Melissa is a Gen X business owner and CFP® professional. She teaches what she has learned on her way to success. She wants to share her secrets to prosperity with you. Call or email Melissa at (231) 733-1166 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.