How to Buy Groceries Without Losing Your Mind

If you’re like me, you absolutely HATE, and I do mean HATE the grocery store.  People everywhere, boxes in the aisles, no parking, long lines.  Ugh. Who needs it?

I got fed up.  Then, I thought, “I can either sit here and admire the problem, or I can think of a solution.”  I chose the latter.

Here it is, in a few, easy steps. Go to the grocery store twice a month, an hour each time.  30 minutes of planning before each trip. 3 hours per month total.  That’s it.

Think, carefully, about how much time you really spend there now per month. I’d be willing to bet that, unless you have a system, it’s more than 3 hours.

What you’ll need:

The recipes you want to use, in whatever form they live.

Writing utensil/s. I use a black pen, but you’ll see how you can use color too.

NOTE:  Yes, the pen was lifted from a hotel I once stayed in.  They’re free, right?

The markers are McKenna’s. She let me borrow. I asked nicely.

A notebook to write in.  Heck, you can use two pieces of paper.  Whatever.

Yes, these pics were taken in the Hen Pen.  Doing something keeps me sane.

Start by opening the book to two, blank, facing pages. Like this:

Begin on one side. Pick a side.  I like to start on the right, but it’s your list.  On the side you picked, make a menu plan.  Mine goes for two weeks, but you could just as easily do one, or three or four, or ten. If you have a big freezer.

Space for each day. I only write down dinners.

Unless I’m making something special for breakfast.

Otherwise, breakfasts and lunches are relatively standard.

Extras at the bottom are generally desserts.  I usually make about one per week.  Coupled          with other snacks and stuff, it’s generally enough for us.

Now, on the other side, make a Tree Map, categorizing as you go. I like to put mine in the order, from left to right, that I will encounter these groups in the store.

If you’re real industrious, you can do the categories in different colors. Like this:

I’m not sayin’ I’m gonna. I’m just sayin’ you could.

I’m not that industrious.

I’m organized. But I’m not crazy.

Okay, back to the point.  Now you have the two sides done.

First, write down all the staples you know you’ll need. Eggs, bread, milk, peanut butter, toilet paper, Snickers. You know, the necessities. Put them in your Tree Map under their proper category headings.

Then, on the Menu Plan, note any days that will be busy days for you. On these days, which you’ll plan first, you’ll need to have something easy, or even plan to eat out.

Like this:

The pic is horrible, but you get the point that, on Wednesday, we (in the Diva sense of the word) have tumbling, so I need something easy.

After that, you can plan the rest of the meals.

Finally, transfer ingredients from those meals into your Tree Map on the other side.

You should have something that looks like this:


…plus this…

…equals this.

Now, go to your pantry and refrigerator (or anywhere else you stash food) and see what you already have that you can mark off your list.  Not only are we saving time, but we’re saving money too!  Yaaaayyyyy!

Now the Tree Map looks like this:

Next, get out your trusty coupons. Go through them and pull any that you’ll need related to what’s on your list.  More savings.  Yaaaayyyy!

Again, if you put your coupons in order of the way you’ll shop, it’ll save tons of time.

Our system is this:

If we end up using a pulled coupon, we put it in our right pocket.  If it’s not used, it goes in the left pocket to later be put back in the coupon organizer. This is a great way for the kids to help when shopping. It gives them purpose and keeps me from killing them.

Then, when I get to the register, I have all my coupons in my right pocket (where I’ve already stashed my debit card and ID, if I’m shopping at the commissary…and I am).

That’s it.

Give it a try and tell me what you think.

I’d love to hear how you tweak it to meet your needs.

UPDATE: 2-28-10 When you get home from the store, tear out the Menu Plan and post it on your fridge. Like this:

Now you have a road map.



One thought on “How to Buy Groceries Without Losing Your Mind

  1. One of the things I love about you the most is your love for organization. Although sometimes it gets on my nerves when I am looking for something that I was using two seconds ago, but has now fallen victim to the flying organization machine! I love you. 🙂


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