Growing up, I remember my mom coming back from her weekly trip to the grocery store and coming back with a receipt that was almost as long as the kitchen counter.
Nowadays, all grocery store receipts are long because they tack all those messages and promotional items on the bottom, but in the 70s and 80s a grocery receipt was just a list of what you purchased.
It would take at least an hour each week to complete her weekly shopping as she went down each aisle of the grocery store. Add to that additional trips to a warehouse store like Costco, and that’s a lot of valuable weekend time spent running errands. As I became an adult I formed the same habit. I would do my weekly shopping, along the way picking up more items than I really needed. Even though my grocery store is less than a mile from my house, I was stocking up my kitchen as if we lived in the frozen tundra of Alaska and might find myself without enough food.
The unfortunate end result of all this stockpiling is a pantry and refrigerator that are too full. When it comes time to cook dinner, trying to come up with an idea is made much harder by the sheer volume of items on the shelves. Faced with the choice between figuring out what items I should use up, I often would resort to going out or ordering in.
This ends up being a very expensive and wasteful proposition:
- excess food products in the fridge and pantry that end up expiring and going to waste
- paying up to 5x what it would cost to prepare a meal at home when I choose to eat out or order takeout
- eating out or ordering in takes more time than preparing something at home
- It can be very frustrating when you plan to have meals at home, only to scrap your plan because of disorganization. There is a certain art around having an adequately stocked pantry, but not having so much stuff around that it becomes a distraction. One of the best ways to do that is to kick the weekly shopping habit. Embrace the fact that life is unpredictable and you don’t necessarily know what dinnertime is going to look like for the next 7 days. Instead just think about a couple of days at a time. Go to the store this afternoon and pick up the items you want to dinner tonight and tomorrow. You can be in and out of the store in 15 minutes and will leave feeling inspired to cook, rather than being weighed down with the job of putting an entire carload of groceries away, and then needing to figure out “what’s for dinner tonight”.