Grocery Shopping Strategy

Ok so typically you make a grocery list with foods you need or want–go buy it–and wait for results. Maybe you’re anal and you plan 5 meals and buy ingredients for those meals. Good for you. For me–I try to keep a certain ration of these three categories of foods: standalones, ready-to-eat meals, and builder ingredients. No matter what you buy, if you make sure you have enough of each of these three categories, you will eat normal(ish) over the length of your grocery purchase.
Examples: Builder ingredients, like flour, need to be combined with other ingredients in order to make edible food. You can make great pancakes with flour, but you won’t do it without eggs. Have these builders around. You don’t need many: vegetable oil, baking powder, salt.
Ready to eat meals: Quite simply–for all your planning–sometimes you get lazy and need to pop the top on some split pea soup. Or sometimes it doesn’t make sense to spend the time and effort to make stuffed grape leaves when you can buy them in a can and save yourself time and money. Have some frozen dinners, cans of soup, and prepared foods that can last a few days as fillers for when your motivation to cook disappears. They are usually more expensive and limit your choice on any given night, so they shouldn’t make up your entire load.
Standalones: These are foods you can eat without cooking them: fruits, yogurt, pickles, hummus, cheese, etc.. They can also be added to something else–pickles on your sandwich, for example–but you don’t have to do anything to them to get fed. They differ from complete meals because they are usually less processed and, as a result, healthier (usually).
Want the most standalones because you’ll get more food for your money–and more eating for your time spent. Next comes ready to eat meals, and you should buy the fewest of builders so you don’t end up with a cupboard full of ingredients and no food.
That’s my two cents–I always make it a point to try and eat well no matter what my budget or time available. At home this ratio helps.

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