Beyond the Tips – What to do When you Forget To Plan Ahead

I originally wrote this for IGA and you can see it here:

  • Eat before you go grocery shopping.
  • Make a list before heading to the store.
  • Read the ad to plan ahead.

When it comes to shopping for food, these are tips that surface time and time again. And while they are certainly helpful, all is not lost if you happen to miss one or more of these grocery shopping musts. Here are four of my favorite things to do when you find yourself at the grocery store without a list, and with no clue about what is on sale.

  1. Mix it up. We are such creatures of habit that we tend to shop the same way, week after week, without any thought to it. One of my favorite tips is also one of the simplest: Just mix up a little when it comes to the way you shop. Park a little farther away (you’ll get more exercise and more time to think!), go in the door you usually don’t, and circle the opposite way from where you usually start. This sensation may feel a little strange at first, but it will likely be a good strange (think about that fresh feeling you get when you move your furniture around in your house). Also, this new shopping approach will force you to look at things in a different way, which will help you find new and exciting things to try in your meals and snacks.
  2. Read the box. The whole box. Ever notice when you get food home that there is a recipe on the side of your favorite oatmeal, frozen veggie bag, or dried fruit container? Instead of waiting until you get home to check that out, look for these recipes on some of your favorite foods while you’re in your Hometown Proud IGA and use them as your shopping list. Shopping to the exact recipe ensures you will end up with everything you need at home when you are ready to make it. Bonus points if you find a couple of ideas that use ingredients you know you already have at home and/or are already in your cart. And you may just find a new favorite recipe to boot!
  3. Don’t forget the basics. Soap, paper towels, reusable containers, thermal lunch bags, measuring cups. Whether you’re making dinner for a crowd or preparing lunch for work the next day, there are some essentials you need for preparing, cooking and carrying nutritious food. If you know you are missing some of these things, grab them on your next trip. Hate making lists? Use your phone to take a picture of your pantry, freezer, fridge, and drawer(s) (remember to open them first) to remind you of what you already have/what you’re running low on.
  4. Swing through the condiments and “extras”. Ever heard that accessories make the outfit? Well the same can be said about the staple cooking ingredients that you need on-hand to turn basic proteins, vegetables and grains into family-favorite meals. Having items like herbs, spices, oils, different kinds of vinegar, reduced sodium soup stock/bouillon, reduced sodium soy sauce and salsa are a must. Find your favorites. Some of mine include extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon zest, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Having these items at home makes dressings, meals and sides a snap.