How To Grocery Shop On A Budget And Cook Basic Meals Like A Pro

best grocery shopping advice


Some people genuinely enjoy perusing the aisles of the grocery store after work, coming home and making a beautiful meal. Others consider it a nightmare scenario that’s usually replaced with Seamless or takeout. But what if we told you that grocery shopping and meal prepping can be easy? Laugh now, but if you follow our advice, you’ll be stocking your kitchen and cooking up a storm effortlessly in no time.

Step 1: Download a few savings apps.

There’s nothing more daunting (and discouraging) than looking at a huge grocery bill. Why spend all that money on ingredients you have to prep and cook when you could just get takeout and call it a night? But if you shop the right way, you could save so much more than if you just ordered meals every day. You can find our ultimate list of money-saving and money-making apps that you can use at supermarkets here.

On top of a quick app download, you can save even more money by following a few quick tips while you’re in the store. A few of our favorites? Don’t be a brand loyalist — if the store’s brand is selling an item for cheaper than your desired brand, take one for the team and go with the cheaper option. Trust us when we say that all of those little savings do add up. Also, think about meatless meals when shopping. It’s no surprise that meat can get pricey, and a can of lentils or kidney beans could be just as filling and cost a lot less.

Unsplash/Jakub Kapusnak

Step 2: Get a weekly grocery plan together.

And we’re not just talking about the grocery list (which we’ll get to in a bit). We suggest doing weekly grocery runs for a couple of reasons. First, you’ll have less trouble planning if you’re only looking at a span of seven days. And second, you’ll waste less food than if you attempted to buy everything in bulk once a month (or even once every few weeks).

Now, here’s our tried-and-true process for getting together a weekly grocery list:

  1. Identify how many people you’re feeding. If it’s just you, then you can figure out how many meals you want to make that you’d likely eat leftovers of later. Breakfast is simple, and most people eat the same thing every day, so we’re really focusing on lunch and dinner here. If you prefer more variety, think about four or five different meals that you could spread out over the course of your week. If you prefer to cook less and just have meals ready to go, plan to make two big meals (obviously in much bigger portions).
  2. Choose a few proteins, four to five vegetables and two or three grains to alternate with throughout the week so you don’t get bored. (Fruit and breakfast items can be written out separately since you’ll know if you’re going to make eggs for yourself or if you’re opting for pre-made oatmeal each morning.) The easiest way to consider a grocery list is in these three main parts, with extras (like condiments, snacks, spices and sauces) in their own category.
  3. Plan out your meals. Once you identify some of your favorite ingredients that you eat often and enjoy, start thinking about meals you’d like to make with them. For example, if you know you like chicken, broccoli, potatoes and rice, you can make two completely different meals with those ingredients, like chicken and broccoli stir-fry and roasted chicken and potatoes. From there, you can identify your “extras” like soy sauce for the stir-fry and garlic for the potatoes.
  4. Write out your grocery list in the order of your preferred grocery store’s layout. Our best trick for saving time and frustration at the supermarket is to get to know your store’s floorplan. Fresher foods will most likely be on the outer edges of the store while packaged foods will be in the middle. If produce is the first thing you see when you walk in, write all of your produce items at the top of your list.

And if you’re saying, “The hell with it! I just want an easy grocery list to follow!” we made one specifically for the lazy cook.

best grocery shopping advice
Unsplash/Brooke Lark

Step 3: Have a few easy recipes bookmarked for when you draw a blank.

We have a few recipes up our sleeves that we love to pull out when in doubt. If you need some easy salad recipes, we love our balsamic chickpea and cherry tomato salad, and our winter kale salad is to die for. If you’re feeling like throwing something hot and bubbly in a slow cooker or on the stove, you can try our winning chili recipe. And for those days when you’re dead tired but starving for something comforting, our Tuscan chicken and zoodles recipe will be done in 30 minutes or less.

Step 4: Take a lesson from us on the logistics of meal prepping.

We have a step-by-step guide on prepping that walks you through a monthly, weekly and on-the-fly plan so you’re covered no matter what you’re feeling. Bonus: We love easy recipes, and we also love to keep our meals in one pot or on one baking sheet to keep the mess to a minimum.

Making the most of your grocery shopping and meal prepping experience is difficult without a little help. But once you’re through with our guides, we hope you hop, skip and jump to the grocery store and get started with a smile on your face.


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