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optimizing shopping

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 17, 2010 at 7:45 PM

how many times do you guys go to the market a month/week?

How do you select what vegetables/meats you get? do you have a set list you buy every time or do you sort of forage?

I used to have a pretty strict schedule of going to the market only once every 2 weeks and buying for two weeks. This was convenient but didn't work for vegetables, which go bad/lose flavor before the two weeks were up (ended up finishing with a lot of cabbage, which keeps well, squash and onions--any soft/leafy vegetables were long gone by then)

I still find that I do not utilize all of the vegetables I buy. How do you portion out what you buy/calculate what you'll need?

Obviously this is not a hard science quantitative question, and with a little bit of track and tweak in a NB I could nail this. Just curious what you guys do.

Thanks!

p.s. I never realized how many questions I had until I came to this forum. This is a really incredible/supportive community. Sorry in advance if I'm ever a jerk in my comments--I just get really focused around theoretical/intellectual debate. Nothing personal, everyone here is inspiring and lovely.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on December 17, 2010
at 11:10 PM

OMG. Not crazy. I think I'm in love. Seriously. I know it sounds weird, but I find that incredibly sexy. Hahaha. I love spreadsheets and lists and data. I used to keep my grocery list like that, but my family changes their mind about what they like so often that I just had extra food too often.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 17, 2010
at 10:02 PM

Not crazy, brilliant. I do the same thing, but for a different reason. I am of the preparedness mindset, so I like to try to have 6-12 months worth of food on hand. This proved difficult when switching to Paleo for obvious reason. Now instead of stocking rice, beans, pasta, etc.. it's Sardines, Dark chocolate, Coconut oil, tuna, whiskey, red wine, nuts. Not all perfect foods but could get me through a spell without eating complete rubbish. But yes, I track and stock these according to my spreadsheets. And people think you're crazy ;)...

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6 Answers

3
5489f67c05ca5fc68f2b984e48b6da5e

on December 18, 2010
at 07:03 PM

I've been optimizing food shopping by simply reducing the variety of foods that I eat.

Grass-finished Beef, Pastured Eggs, Pastured Pork Sausage, Grass-fed Butter, Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil, Organic Avocados, Organic Lettuce, Organic Green Onions, Organic Celery.

That's the bulk of my diet now. I supplement with some other foods occasionally.

Slow cooking is amazing.

3
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on December 17, 2010
at 08:32 PM

This might sound un-paleo crazy, but I have an Excel spreadsheet with all the items I buy regularly, their location, and their cost. Every 15 days (1st and 15th of the month, payday) I scroll through and delete everything I have in good supply (good=won't run out in 15 days). Then I can incorporate "foraging" with whatever else I have to do. I print out the spreadsheet, keep it in my bag, and if I'm near the Asian grocery and need coconut milk, I'm reminded to pick that up. I've had to do this to reign in costs and I'm finally making progress. I keep a different spreadsheet for bill payment that has my grocery costs pinpointed very accurately.

In addition to eating the foods that I like and believe to be healthy, I've attempted to add in foods that I don't necessarily have a taste for. Liver, for example, for vitamin A and choline (the taste has grown on me, actually). Radicchio for vitamin K. Red palm oil. Etc. So those go on the spreadsheet. I buy perishable stuff in microquantities on the day I plan on using them. The freezer is kept full of meat and fish. I don't preplan menus far in advance but I'll grab four or five packages of different things for thawing at a time, conscious that this is what I'll be eating for the next 3 days or so, paying attention to diversity (liver, beef/bones, chicken, salmon, halibut, for example). This way I waste nothing and am not "locked in" to a specific meal at a specific time.

I rarely buy "fresh" meat. If I do and don't plan on eating it immediately, it goes in the freezer. I always keep liver, salmon, sole, halibut, beef, and chicken on hand. When I travel, I carry food with me in a cooler.

People think I'm crazy.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on December 17, 2010
at 11:10 PM

OMG. Not crazy. I think I'm in love. Seriously. I know it sounds weird, but I find that incredibly sexy. Hahaha. I love spreadsheets and lists and data. I used to keep my grocery list like that, but my family changes their mind about what they like so often that I just had extra food too often.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 17, 2010
at 10:02 PM

Not crazy, brilliant. I do the same thing, but for a different reason. I am of the preparedness mindset, so I like to try to have 6-12 months worth of food on hand. This proved difficult when switching to Paleo for obvious reason. Now instead of stocking rice, beans, pasta, etc.. it's Sardines, Dark chocolate, Coconut oil, tuna, whiskey, red wine, nuts. Not all perfect foods but could get me through a spell without eating complete rubbish. But yes, I track and stock these according to my spreadsheets. And people think you're crazy ;)...

2
95601768ec9cb75cc3a9cbcd2271ed14

(2206)

on December 17, 2010
at 09:29 PM

As mentioned in another thread, I don't drive, so I am limited to what I can carry at any given time. This results in me going to some type of food store at least a few times a week, if not more. This has its pros and cons. On one hand I catch mark downs and sales more often and fresher things being stocked just because I am there so often. On the other hand I can't really buy in bulk, sometimes have to put things back I really need because I just don't have enough hands, and other times I end up picking up little things here and there on several trips that I probably don't need which adds up.

I am trying to get a little more efficient with my shopping because of budgetary constraints and the selfish reason that I don't want to lug stuff home in sub zero temperatures three to five times a week over the coming months. To that end I have implemented the following changes to my instinctual foraging on many small trips regime:

-At the beginning of the month my boyfriend and I get a bulk freezer meat deal from the butcher that has a variety of meats and cuts--it is heavy as hell to carry home, but cheaply provides us with a bulk of our proteins for the month. This frees up the rest of the month to pick up veggies, supplemental meats, eggs, other staples as needed. This has forced us to get better about defrosting things and then using them ASAP.

-I simply can't plan meals ahead of time unless I am craving something in particular. Instead, if we have chicken thawing we say "what sounds good?", decide on a use and go pick up the things we need to use with the chicken at that point. It has reduced rotting veggies in the crisper by a lot.

-I make it a point to check my fridge inventory often to try and avoid moldy leftovers and slimy veggies and adapt accordingly. Leftovers get bumped to the top of the list and meals get crafted around using up what is in there (or they are thrown in the stockpot), period. Poverty is forcing me to be less fickle and waste less. If I start to get all "But I hate planning! I just want X,Y,Z!" I remind myself that I eat by desire and instinct most of the time and eating that leftover curry is not going to end that.

-I keep a running shopping list in a dedicated notebook that stays in my backpack so I have a better idea of what I need and don't blank out in the store.

-Meat on sale takes priority and gets bought and used over the recipe I had in mind nine times out of ten. The other time it gets bought and frozen.

1
47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on December 19, 2010
at 01:00 AM

Two quick points.

I read this on a paleo forum somewhere but I don't remember where. If you like to shop both at a farmers market and a grocery store you can do them both on the same day. Since most meat at the farmers market is frozen, you keep it frozen and then thaw it gradually while you're eating the fresh meat from the grocery store in the first half of the week -- since most meat from the grocery store is fresh. When the fresh grocery store meat runs out, you've got the thawed farmers market meat waiting to go for the second half of the week. That way you only have to shop one day a week.

Second, I think it could be a good idea to get a chest freezer like our Melissa was talking about recently, to store large amounts of meat. It seems like they're not so hard to find -- hers is from Home Depot -- and they don't use too much electricity. I've been thinking about it for a while now.

1
9b1da5c61c41bb93afb668f9ab3bc76a

(422)

on December 18, 2010
at 02:01 AM

My husband and I shop about once a week, and eat out at least one of those meals. Luckily my mother in law has a dozen or so chickens, so we get free eggs! So we mostly buy bacon, sausage (I haven't weaned myself off that yet!), some onions, mushrooms and I pick a few recipies to try out a week based on what's on sale.

I try to pick up one "expensive" items a week. This week it was coconut oil, next week it'll probably be almond butter.

1
E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

on December 17, 2010
at 08:19 PM

We go to the grocery store every week, and the farmer's market every week if we don't have interfering plans. The farm (lots and lots of raw dairy) and the Amish natural foods store is more or less every other week, with a run to a local health food/organic store once every 6 weeks or so.

I usually buy fresh carrots (they keep a long time) and frozen broccoli. Cabbage and kale/chard/whatever usually gets chopped up and sauteed and then frozen. Onions keep forever, and green peppers get sliced up and frozen. I also keep a few frozen veggie mixes on hand, since sometimes I'm just too overwhelmed to take the time out to wash and chop, failed to plan ahead, fresh veggies rotted out from under me, or I just crave a specific type/mix. I also try to keep sauerkraut on hand. 1-2 cups (cooked, more if raw) of veggies a day is usually my ideal, much more and it replaces meat and fat which is not good, and much less and I don't feel quite right.

I love salads, but because the lettuce usually doesn't last long, it annoys me too much to buy/make often.

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