Grocery Shopping Checklist

I used to be one of those people in college who could somehow pull off entire parties (with decorations), or give a speech or presentation with little to no planning involved. I actually used to pride myself on this "talent". Because last minute miracles was kinda my thing, friends and family would also pull me into random projects or events where not enough planning was done. I've literally set up an entire wedding reception with just a box of decorations left by a panicking maid of honor...

While this skill has served me well at various points in life, I wouldn't actually recommend it, and it's something I'm trying very hard to distance myself from. Because it's VERY stressful and you usually need a little bit of luck to pull it off. I've also realized that when it comes to goals (vs. events or a test), if you don't plan ahead, all the luck in the world won't be able to help you. Grown up life is busy, and not planning ahead means you don't work out, you eat whatever is available, and years will fly by with the same New Years resolutions. 

So if you don't like your current routine as it pertains to food, look at your grocery shopping habits. Did you plan ahead for the week? Now here's what I mean by plan ahead. Traditional "meal planning" (as in, I decide ahead of time that I will eat chicken and rice on Thursday night for dinner) has never really worked for me. I don't like locking myself into a specific meal on Sunday... I mean, I don't know what I'm going to feel like eating later in the week!! I tried for years, but could never be consistent, and usually by Wednesday my plan was shot, and by the following week I was throwing food away. 

This sometimes crushing it, sometimes throwing WAY too much food away cycle went on and on until 2 years ago when I met my boyfriend. Sean and I met while taking a kettlebell certification course (I gained more than just a love of those odd shaped weights that weekend!). At the time Sean was still a pretty serious bodybuilder, which meant he looked like Captain America, but his diet was SO BORING! He literally ate the SAME thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day. So much chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli... 

Sean's eating habits have diversified (I always joke that I'm a bad influence), but his consistent grocery shopping habits have totally changed the way I think about "meal planning" and buying food. Instead of stressing about planning ahead and making long lists of what I need for the week (and then promptly buying anything except my list), I simply do a quick checklist of my core grocery items, and then add the 1 or 2 additional things I want for the week. This one-list-only method saves money, time, and your waistline will thank you. 

I've put together a downloadable checklist. Literally on Sunday, or whatever day you go to the store, you simply pull out this list, and buy the things you are out of. Removing the complicated planning from shopping will greatly increase your odds of consistently eating better food. This list is basic and doesn't include a "snacks" category... THIS IS ON PURPOSE. If there are snack or additional once-in-a-while items (sometimes we get blue corn tortilla chips for example), you can buy them, but there shouldn't be many, and sticking closely to this list will help you stay on track (again both budget wise and getting food that you will actually eat). 

You might be wondering if I get bored, like isn't it pretty much the same thing every week? Didn't you make fun of Sean for eating that way?! Well, yes, I did totally make fun of Sean when we first started dating... BUT no, to answer your first question, I don't get bored. And that's for two reasons. 1. You can prepare things infinite ways (spices rule), 2. Predictability means easy, and easy means I'll be consistent, and consistent is what allows me to look and feel the way I want.

If you give yourself too many options you won't stick to it. Another added benefit of diligent grocery shopping is that you have budget (both in calories and on your credit card), for occasional tacos and margaritas! We eat home cooked food we buy during the week, and usually have dinner out on Friday and Saturday night. Because we have a list to stick to, shopping only takes about 30 minutes to do (if there is a line). And my favorite part is no stress or spending hours planning ahead. Seriously, try this (or a version of it), so helpful!