Cooking and eating clean are the later steps in the meal prep experience — buying the food comes first. For creating healthy meals in advance, being a prepared shopper is vital, but it can be difficult to stay focused. Without a list, it’s too easy to give in to tempting junk foods, spend more money than a budget allows, or get enough ingredients for cohesive and balanced meals. Luckily, there are some really helpful tips for making your lists and sticking to them.
- Use an app: If pen and paper isn’t your jam, the notes app on your phone is a very helpful resource. On the iPhone, the Reminders app is also a great choice to check off the things you’ve already put in your cart. For more grocery specific lists, Mealime or Out of Milk are two popular options with features like nutritional facts and a saved recipes folder to make planning a trip to the store more interactive.
- Organize your list by location: Separating your list based on the different parts of the store cuts down shopping time and frustration of forgetting something in the aisle you were just in. Making a column for produce, grains, canned goods, snacks, and dairy products streamlines the trip itself and makes a mission out of shopping, which can help distract from indulging in treats you don’t need.
- Base your list around weekly deals and coupons: Looking at sales and specials will not only get you excited about saving money, it will also help you decide what to cook throughout a couple of weeks. Budgeting food allowance based on sales ensures that you keep to your list (and maybe adds more cushion in other budgeted areas). This is also a nice way to treat yourself to that pack of Oreos or two boxes of cereal instead of one. Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every once in awhile.