The Good, the Bad, and the Grocery: Tips to Make Food Shopping a Piece of Cake

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The time has come to bid farewell the comfort of a dining plan and prepare for the endeavor of grocery shopping and cooking on your own. While to some this is a daunting task, for others it is the perfect opportunity to take control over your eating habits and show off your culinary skills! For those of you who are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or even hopeless when it comes to mastering the art of the supermarket, this guide will help you discern the most efficient habits for stocking up on sustenance!

It’s easier said than done to make the transition from an all-inclusive dining hall plan to budgeting money and time for meals on your own. Some of your friends may have had years of practice and are effortlessly whipping up gourmet-looking meals. It’s important to avoid comparing yourself to your friends - everyone learns at their own pace. Focus on your personal goals and how you can either maintain or improve your culinary knowledge. Without further ado, here are what I consider to be the most important tricks to follow to make grocery shopping simple!

1. Plan ahead: make a list!

It’s quite possible that nothing is more overwhelming than aimlessly wandering around a crowded grocery store and attempting to remember all the essentials you’ll need for the week. Before you leave for the store, check out your fridge and jot down a quick list of anything that you need to replace. This way, you won’t have to stand in front of the avocados for ten minutes wondering if you need to replenish your supply.

2. Scope out your local markets beforehand

No two grocery stores are the same. Take the time to go to a few and decide which better suits your needs. Maybe you like the specialty items at Trader Joe’s, or the prices at Star Market can’t be beat. Or, maybe you like that the BC Shuttle takes you to Wegman’s with no fuss on Sundays. Whichever you prefer, find a store that you can get comfortable with!

When it comes to navigating the store, don’t be intimidated! Your first time in an unfamiliar market, the aisles may seem like a labyrinth. Orient yourself - you’ll be acquainted in no time.

3. Pay attention to sales

Even when you’re grocery shopping for one, prices can add up quickly and make you break into a sweat as your total climbs at check-out. This feeling can be easily avoided by being mindful of what you’re buying. Look at the weekly sales, and stock up on necessities when they’re cheaper.

4. Don’t overstuff your fridge

Most of the time, overstuffing your fridge will just end with you finding rotten, forgotten produce in the very back - gross AND wasteful. To avoid this, stay organized and clean out your fridge weekly! It can be difficult when you’re sharing a fridge with your roommates. However, if you consolidate, and only buy what you need, you won’t run into as many problems!

5. If you can, share with your roommates

It’s inevitably easier to buy groceries separately when you’re living in a house with other people. But when you have limited fridge space, it can be silly to fill up the door with 5 separate bottles of ketchup or tubs of cream cheese. For long-lasting essentials, it may be easier to buy for the whole house and split the price. Keep a list on your fridge of what needs to be replaced, and you can take turns replenishing these fridge or pantry staples.

With these tips in mind, you can easily turn the process of purchasing and organizing your groceries into just another part of your weekly routine. Have discipline with yourself and make sure you’re eating right. For those who are afraid to test their cooking skills, it may seem easier to eat a bowl of cereal and call it a night - but don’t succumb! If you challenge yourself and show interest in your diet, you may even find shopping and cooking for yourself to be fun!

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