How to Cut Back on Time Spent Food Shopping (Without Using Delivery Services)

A student in my classes recently asked, “You mentioned that you food shop 1 – 2 times a month. I’m trying to cut back on going food shopping since it takes up a lot of my time. Just curious…Am I to assume you buy frozen vegetables for the most part?”

How to cut back on time spent food shopping

Somewhere in the past few years, I have come to loathe food shopping, which is weird, since I used to love it. Here are my survival strategies to save time on food shopping.

I only do a “big shop” once or usually twice a month. I shop at Aldi, which is a small store, so I’m in and out in an hour, and I only spend about 1/3 what my friends spend. I know because I’ve asked. The savings is real.

I load up on fresh veggies and fruits when I go, so that’s at least 1 week of fresh items. And yes, I do have plenty of frozen items on hand, but they all fit in my kitchen freezer. I don’t have a chest or standing freezer, and don’t have one in the garage, either. That’s just a power outage waiting to happen.

I also buy a mix of non-frozen veggies that have to be eaten quickly before they go bad (zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers) and the veggies that are pretty hardy, mostly root vegetables, that can stick around for a few weeks (carrots, winter squash, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes). More importantly, we eat the fragile veggies faster.

I keep several bagged veggies (peas, corn, broccoli), side dishes (prepared couscous mixes, mozzarella sticks) and entrees (frozen chicken breasts, hamburger patties, fish filets, pasta dishes, pizza), and we mix and match for easy prep, but it’s rare that anything stays in the freezer for more than 6 months.

I keep a stocked pantry, but nothing “extra” in the basement as many families do. The trick is “First In, First Out” FIFO management; things don’t disappear into the wayback of the pantry.

Once a week, we run in for milk, and I buy high quality whole grain bread from a baker in town when I can. We eat 95% of our meals at home, and we all take our lunches to school and work.

And yes, there are months when I swing by Trader Joes or even Wegmans for some variety or an ingredient that I can’t get at Aldi’s, or even a little more convenience. But overall, I stick to my 1-2 times a month shopping trips and keep my meals simple.

Could this work for you?