Hey, guys! You ready to rock getting organized today? Today’s project is one that will help keep you sane on a weekly basis. I love that! How about you? It may not be the most exciting organization project in that there aren’t going to be any great before and after shots (like I’m going to be able to show you next week), but it will help keep you just a touch more on top of things in your house and that is worth its weight in gold…if you are like me.
Let’s talk about grocery shopping and meal prep today. I know, not really all that fun of topics, but they are something I am willing to bet you deal with at least once a week if not on a daily basis. Am I right? If we can get some of these little things that we have to do on a weekly or more frequent basis organized it frees up time and brain space/power and that equals some additional time and freedom for me and it will for you as well.
This is just one post in my Real Organized series. The whole series has been going on since January and you can still join in. I’ve been bringing you a small project each week that will help you get your home/family management a touch more organized. If you are like me, getting these things organized equals a little more sanity for mom and means that mom may have a little less brain clutter and possibly even a little freedom or spare time to do something I love. Maybe. 😀
Ok, so let me show you the ways that work for me to keep my grocery shopping organized as well as keep my sanity with getting meals on the table. If you need missed, I would recommend that you go back to last week where I talked about meal planning. Read that and then come back here.
Once you have your meals for the week planned, you will need to make a grocery list. I find that this is a very personal decision about what works for you. It seems that lots of people I have talked to have a very specific way they like to keep a grocery list. It truly doesn’t matter what way you keep a list.
The thing that I think you need to do to save yourself and to be able to accept and/or ask for or require help from your partner (if you have one) is to have a way that everyone can access the list.
I have a few printables for you and if you insist, paper is fine, but I want to encourage you to find a digital solution. It will be so nice in the long run because if you do it in a way that others that will help you can access it, then at any given time, someone knows what is on the list and can grab things while they are already out.
So the first thing I have for you is a free editable grocery list. You can print it out and stick it on your fridge, or wherever and add to it as the week progresses. Once you plan your meals for the week, you can add all those items to the list as well and head out to the store.
Going to the store only once a week will save you time and money. If you currently are going grocery shopping more, make small changes to break that habit and get to once a week shopping. I promise you will like it once you get used to it.
If you choose to use this grocery list, as I said, you can print it out and add items to it throughout the week. If it were me, I would save this in Dropbox in a file that both my husband and I can access. That way if he happens to be near Trader Joe’s he can pick up whatever is on the list and save me the time. I can also add to that list throughout the week and so can he if he remembers he needs something even while he is out of town. You could even save the file under multiple names, one for each store where you shop. That way if you are running to Target for glue, but you had on your list to get a blanket the next time you were there, you won’t forget. (Yes, glue and blankets are random items I would totally buy together at Target…lol!)
The next option is a touch more organized. Again, you can save this to Dropbox and allow anyone that you want to have access to the file so sthat things can be added to the list and you have a shot at shopping once a week versus more often. At my house, we all have learned to plan ahead.
At my house, we all have learned to plan ahead. We have extras bins in the linen closet that contain most all of our toiletries. When anyone pulls something out it is supposed to go on the grocery list. I have had to be a bit tough from time to time by not running to the store when someone forgot to put something on the list and because of that, they have learned (for the most part) to add things to the list. It might feel mean (or feel really mean if you ever write it out in a blog post for the world to read) but it helps save me in the long run and teaches them to think ahead as well, which I think will be useful when they are adults.
Anyway, this list has slots for your meal planning down the left side as well as an organized grocery list. It will make things a bit more efficient both in your planning as well as your shopping.
Once again, you can print this and hang it on your fridge if you really prefer paper, but I love my meal planning cards and digital technology makes me a touch more sane for this, so it wouldn’t be my choice. I just wanted to give you guys a few options so you can find what works for you.
The way that I prefer to make grocery lists is in an app. I have two that you can see above that I have used over the years.
I used Mighty Grocery for years and really love it. I think it can do some great things that Out of Milk can’t, but my husband has a iPhone for work and I love Android, so we were having issues with Mighty Grocery because it is only available on Android. He could access it on the web, but not all of the features were there.
So, a few months ago, we found Out of Milk which does work on both platforms and has most of the features I wanted. For some reason you can’t access both versions of Out of Milk from their site, so here is Android and here is iOS.
First off, my husband created this list and is not a good speller…yes, I noticed after I had put away all of my photography equipment his spelling of Avocado. So, anyway…these lists are ones that you create and you can create your own spelling as well, if you like. 😉
With Out of Milk(Android and iOS) and Mighty Grocery, you can create multiple lists in one app. I have lists for Costco, Trader Joes, Target, and the Grocery Store. Those are the usual places that we shop. Either app will scan a barcode and add it to your list. Out of Milk will even automatically categorize most items, making it easy to be efficient going through the store.
As you can see above(which is Out of Milk), they both have the option to keep track of prices as well as will tell you the cost of what is in your cart. This was my number one reason for switching to an app in the first place. I know before I even walk out the door what I am spending on groceries. I can go back and change a meal or two if I need to save some money, etc. It makes it so much easier to stay on budget.
Using an app that syncs between our devices also means that if I create the list but my husband is doing the shopping, he easily has the full shopping list right with him AND he can check items off as he shops so things don’t get forgotten.
As you can tell, this is my recommended way to be organized with your grocery list and save you time and money. If you are trying to stick to a budget, this is the best way to go. Both of these apps also have a way to enter coupons so you can see that reflected in your totals. The one thing that Might Grocery has that Out of Milk does not(and I really wish Out of Milk had) is the ability to postpone an item. If for example, we need Kleenex and we usually buy in bulk at Costco, but we don’t have the money this week, in Mighty Grocery, I can postpone that item and when I checkout in the app from this week’s shopping trip, it will ask me if I want to add the postponed items back to the list. I miss this feature because my husband does most of the shopping and is forgetful. Currently, the only way to postpone an item in Out of Milk is to either leave it on your list and make a note on the item or to delete it and remember to add it back. At my house, it often gets deleted and never re-added back to the list. 🙁
As I started with, it really doesn’t matter which way you like to keep a grocery list. I think what matters the most is that you start a list and start the habit of planning ahead so that you can shop only one time per week. You will love the money and time savings.
To finish up organizing our family/home a little bit, I wanted to talk for just a second about actually getting the meals onto the table. We have planned meals, we have grocery shopped, but now we need to execute. The little meal planning cards that I use help me immensely, but I know they aren’t for everyone.
I have grown to swear by freezer cooking. I wrote about that here, so I won’t go into tons of detail here, but I cook once a month and have meals that last me for that month and beyond. We tend to eat a freezer meal 3-4 nights a week. It is so stinkin’ helpful. It means that rather than spend an hour on a busy weeknight making dinner, I spent a Saturday making a bunch of meals and now on busy weeknights I have anywhere from 15-30 minutes or prep to get dinner on the table. Woot, Woot! It does kind of stink in the making of all the meals on one day, but the long-term payoff makes it totally work it. Oh and I use Once a Month Meals (affiliate link) program to make the whole planning and set up of my cooking day super easy.
The thing that I was struggling with in terms of freezer cooking, was when to pull things out of the freezer so they would be defrosted when I needed them. I had my graphic designer create this printable to keep me (and you) on track with that. It has a spot to put what is for dinner tonight as well a what you need to pull out for future meals. I included a slot on the side for the future meals to put how to cook the meal for tonigth as well. Might as well keep everything in one place. It is all editable, so you can change it week after week. Perfect!
Finally, the other thing that I was struggling with was keeping track of what was in the freezer. We have a 2nd fridge/freezer that is in this room for our heat pump return that is outside our house but attached to our house. I didn’t want to have to run out there while I was planning meals to have a clue what I still had out in the freezer. I have a spreadsheet like this in Excel(though it is not nearly as cute!) that I keep track of what I have, when it was frozen, what ingredients I need the day of cooking, etc. It takes me a few minutes to enter things in, but again, it is that initial setup that makes things a breeze on a weekly basis. Totally helps every time!
Whew! That was a ton! What questions do you have for me about organized grocery shopping and meal prep? Just pop them in the comments below and I will happily answer them. You can also leave your tips and tricks below…
or pop over to my facebook page and leave them there as we can always learn from each other. 🙂 Oh and don’t forget to take pictures of your organized shopping list and meal prep and tag me on Instagram. Use the hashtag #RealOrganized.
Next week, I can’t wait to show you how to have an organized pantry! I have wanted to do this project in my house for 9 years and it is done now and it is spectacular! LOVE it! See you next week.
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