One of the questions/complaints/excuses we hear most often about making the lifestyle change to exclude processed and grain-containing ingredients relates to what you can eat…or more specifically what you should buy when you go to the store. The typical excuse starts out with something like, “But I just don’t know what to get…” Even people that fully embrace the concept of changing the way they eat can get hung up on the idea of revising their shopping strategies a bit.
Years ago, Karen and I had run across a notepad checklist in a novelty shop that contained a pre-made list of groceries arranged by section (Deli, Produce, Meat, etc). Recognizing immediately the potential this list had for streamlining our grocery shopping (or just hoping it would eliminate us forgetting something when we quickly compiled our list while heading out the door to the store each week), we bought it. And we used it. Religiously. And almost immediately, we found that the list contained a substantial number of things we just didn’t buy (even before we changed our lifestyle), and at the same time was very lacking in its inclusion of other things we did buy.
Luckily (for us and now for you as well), I have some OCD tendencies – perhaps part of the reason I pursued engineering in college. As we worked our way through this purchased notepad, I began keeping notes on the things we didn’t want on the list and the things we did want on the list. I also paid closer attention to our own shopping habits and the stores where we shopped – what order we went through the store, and what items were found in what sections. Sort of like optimal foraging strategy applied to grocery shopping.
The result was a simple database with a single report – GROCERY LIST By Store Section. We’ve been using, tweaking, and refining it for at least 4 years now, with this latest version reflecting the foods we buy and use on a regular basis in our kitchen. And since we’ve been sharing recipes from our kitchen on this site now for 4 months (this is our 100th post), we thought it would be a good time to share this “Secret” as well – to help you improve your shopping strategies as you live and eat healthy.
The attached file is a single-page PDF. The intended use is to print out a stack of these and keep them in the kitchen where they are handy. As you run low on something, simply check it off on the list. When you are making up your menu for the week, check your stock on the ingredients for each recipe, then mark down the items you are short on (there are blank lines in most sections for things you buy less often). Record specific varieties of things on the blank line after the word (such as “sirloin” next to Beef, Steak, ________). And then, just before you head to the store, you can run your way down the list and do a quick double-check on anything not selected to make sure you either don’t need it or have stock of it already. Now you’re all set. Happy Shopping!