How often do you go grocery shopping? Do you tend to go every other day, picking up what you’re cooking for the night? Do you just grab something cooked from the store and eat it there? Or, do you go every two weeks when payday comes?

Regardless of which one you choose, they’re all wrong to me. Hey, I’m just keepin’ it real.

It’s hard enough to eat clean – buying mainly produce and deli – without breaking the bank. If you grocery shop for clean eating every other night, what are you leaving to rot and waste at home? (And for crying out loud, how much gas are you wasting?) If you’re buying cooked dinners from the deli in the grocery, how much money are you spending per plate per night? (And for goodness sake, how much trash are you accumulating?)

And if you’re going grocery shopping every two weeks, I’m almost certain that you’re buying an influx of processed foods. What else is going to keep that well for two weeks without eventually beginning to wilt? (And as I previously outlined, just how much money are you wasting buying pre-prepared foods, instead of ingredients to create your own good stuff?)

I’m sayin’. There has to be a sensible solution, right? Right?

Right! My answer is to pick one day – usually a nice, lazy, comfy Sunday – and go grocery shopping. Wake up that morning, spend a good 15 minutes thinking about what you’ll eat this week, what you’ll need, sketch out a list, scratch out the [processed foods and] stuff you’ve already got plenty of in your fridge already and get moving!

Why weekly?

For starters, it allows you to avoid your produce rotting. If you dedicate one day to grocery shopping and food prep, you can spend the rest of the week cooking from your fridge, your cabinets and your pantry. It allows you to “shop” from your own reserves. This way, you prevent wasting your money on stuff you “can’t eat” because it doesn’t look quite as fresh as it did when you got it.

Secondly, you have to make a list. How is it that we go grocery shopping, spend an arm/a leg/a first born and still… wind up staring at the fridge for five minutes repeating to ourselves, “I have nothing to cook.” Oh, no. Not only do you have plenty of ingredients and not pre-prepared foods that you may or may not have a taste for – for example, instead of buying garlic cheese bread in a box, why not pick up a baguette from the grocery bakery, some garlic powder, cheese and use your butter/oil? – but you have options. A pre-packaged box doesn’t give you options. At all. Ever. That same garlic powder, cheese and oil could be used on bread, macaroni, leafy greens and rice. Options.

Shopping this way forces you to think about exactly what you’re going to realistically eat in a week. For example – I know I’ll need a big container of oatmeal and various types of fruit for breakfast. I know I’ll need bread, peanut butter, apples, strawberries and bananas for lunch. I also know I’ll need lots of rice, veggies/veggie blends, leafy greens, herbs, spices and the like for dinner. In my head, when I do this planning, I’m sketching out my week. I’ll even have a few magazines or good recipe websites on hand to look at what I can accomplish with my potential ingredient list.

Lastly, it re-emphasizes portion control. If you know you’re only going through that whole ordeal one time and you’re adamant about not breaking your rule (and your rule is imposed by someone worth respecting – yourself), then you’ll exercise portion control to ensure that you don’t break your promise to yourself.

For those of you who only go grocery shopping 2x a month, why not split up what you usually purchase and put the other half “under the mattress?” If you’re afraid of that money “turning into shoe money,” then I can’t help ya. Exercise a little restraint. That’s grocery money… not “free money.”

Get into the habit of eating what’s in your house, and stop letting commercials and cravings run you. I’ll never forget the day my Sorority sister and I went grocery shopping together. With all those groceries in the car, I said to her, “You wanna go to Checkers/Rally’s? I’m starving.” She surely did look at me like I had a booger on my face and said, “Didn’t we just go to the grocery store? Any particular reason why you aren’t hungry for what you just bought?”

That’s not exactly what she said. I think I cleaned it up a little bit.

Not like it wasn’t bad enough that just the sight and smell of the fast food joint made me wanna levitate out of the car and into the Checkers’ drive-thru to inhale some fries, but I would’ve easily spent $6 there. $6 is a week and a half worth of frozen veggies! Y’all playin’!

My daughter and I get up early Sunday morning, have breakfast, then hit the grocery stores together. Aside from the occasional hand-swatting (“No, you better not reach for the Booberry… and unless you have a job, you can’t get it.“) and begging for samples, we make it fun. We get home, I do my prep work of chopping and sorting the veggies, and that’s it for the week. It’s literally like making my own “pre-prepared foods.” Give it a shot and see how it works for you!

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