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When you grocery shop, do you buy...

some chicken, some fish, some pork, some red meat? In other words do you try to plan different protein sources for each meal? How do you grocery shop? How do you meal plan? I used to buy just what looked good and was at a good price...for everything, not just meat. But now, I am trying to plan meals more or less by the week. So when I shop, I am thinking, "we need a chicken meal, a meat meal, fish meal, vegetarian meal,..." Is this how you do it? If not, what are your thought processes as you grocery shop.

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  1. Yes. We go to the supermarket armed with a list of things we need to buy to cook specific recipes over the coming days.

    1. I go to the farmers market first and get whatever produce looks good. Then I form the menu for the week around that. I'm a vegetarian, but my significant other isn't, so for him I usually do try to vary the meats during the week. When I have time to really sit down and enjoy my menu planning I look through my cookbooks (or use eatyourbooks.com) to find new recipes that include the produce that I bought. When I don't have as much time to plan, I stick with more basic preparations.

      1 Reply
      1. re: emoore

        I'll be at a farmers market tomorrow in hopes of finding great shrooms and vidalia's. XxXx < fingers crossed.

      2. We shop more or less as Harters described with some modification. As prices soar here in the Northeast US I now plan dinner menus for the week with 3 vegetarian, 1 fish and 3 meats, incorporating organic poultry, pork and bison and wild caught seafood We try to buy seasonal produce as far as we are able. During the winter, when local farms are not selling "their own", we try to avoid imported fruit and vegetables and buy as close to home as possible...east coast. On the meatless days I cook legumes, whole grains, and pasta.

        Because we like a variety of cuisines and because we participate in the COTM our pantry is frequently in need of restocking one or two items. As it is now we can cook practically anything we want without added expense. We only shop once a week and cook everything "from scratch:.

        1. My wife does most of the grocery shopping. She follows a process quite similar to the OP's description, but with a fist full of coupons in hand. If she has a specific meal plan in mind for any of the groceries she's purchased she tells me about it. Otherwise, it's open season on anything and everything. I like to reach into the freezer (or one of her shopping bags) and grab something, anything, and use whatever it is to plan a meal around. It's almost as much fun as planning a meal around left overs. it's also an excellent way to learn more about the versatility of all kinds of foods.

          1. Before I head to the grocery store on monday morning ( my shopping for the week|) I will look thr what is in the freezer,have a rough plan for the week . I also tend to bulk cook and freeze so that its easier for me.But here is an example:
            Monday - chilli ( from the freezer) need to make corn bread and salad( stuff for that)
            Tue - Rice and lentils and a vegetable( which i decide at the grocery store looking at produce and the rest of the stuff is already in the pantry)
            Wed - Soup and salad ( stuff needed for the soup and salad to be got)

            etc....This works the best for me ,after all my permutations and combinations.
            I dont think I can handle a chicken meal, a fish meal kind of planning. I will try keep it easy and cook two diff meats two vegi meals one leftovers and fix it yourself day and one day just open either for take out or last min planning. But my last minute meal will be a mix of whatever is there .

            1. I definitely don't plan for a different meat each day, but I also don't like to eat the same thing four days in a row. I probably fall closest to the "buy whatever looks good/ is on sale" or the "plan around the produce from the market," although vegetables are versatile. I do sometimes try to think of a couple of things I can do with a package of meat so I can go grab whatever other ingredients I'll need. But I never meal plan more than a day or two in advance.

              1. I buy various cuts of chicken, pork, fish, and beef based on what's on sale for multiple meals, and freeze them raw in meal size portions, without any thought to meal planning. Likewise, on a weekly basis I buy produce and staples largely as a function of what's on sale and/or for which I have coupons, stockpiling when the prices are good as to shelf-staple items. I generally do not meal plan any earlier than the night-before or morning of the meal, when I decide what meat to defrost and may at that time also decide how it will be prep'd and with what sides. But often I don't know until I'm on my way home from work exactly what the menu will be.

                There are certain products that I buy regardless of price because they are staples that we use every week -- e.g., lettuce, cheese, carrots.

                3 Replies
                1. re: masha

                  I like your style. If I had a style I'd say I shop mostly your way.

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    I describe my approach as Chopped (the FN tv show) without the weird ingredients. I have a well-stocked pantry and fridge, and wing it from there, based on about 30 different recipes that are part of my or my husband's stock repertoire. The only time I meal plan first is for guests or special meals.

                  2. I'm a planner - every weekend I sit down and plan out the menus for each day of the coming week. I put the main dish & sides in my calendar, along w/a reference to where I can find the recipe (cookbooks, on-line, pulled from a magazine, etc.). As I decide on a menu, I list the ingredients I need on the shopping list . . . then head to the store. When we're getting a CSA share (late fall and summer - early fall) I am more flexible - I always have chicken in the freezer, tofu in the fridge, beans in the cupboard and have a VERY extensively stocked pantry so that I can throw together most anything w/the veggies we receive (or w/minor modifications).

                    Hope this helps!


                    1. I'm very much an "on sale" guy and plan meals accordingly. This works well for produce in that you usually get what is in season and fresh. With meat and fish, it tends to be more random. I've started buying the family packs of meat or poultry and using what I need and freezing the rest for stew (not so with fish).

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: gourmaniac

                        Not sure why more people don't shop this way. With high prices and more and more budgeting, it makes sense to market where sales occuror shop sales.
                        Apples and pears are best priced in Fall.
                        Cherrys are plentiful in Spring.
                        Zucchini in summer as well as corn on the cob.
                        Fresh and reasonable.

                        1. re: iL Divo

                          I like to think it's better for the environment too compared to getting cherries in Feb from Chile. That said, I'm sure there are hidden costs and factors. If I really need out of season fruits/veggies, frozen usually works and have the advantage that they are picked when in season and abundant. I've noticed a slight seasonal trend to meat/fish e.g. swordfish in july, corned beef in March (in Boston at least), turkey in Nov-Dec.

                        2. re: gourmaniac

                          This is me. It feels like thowing money away to eat something when it isn't on sale, just because I want it- it will be on sale within the next 6 weeks, and I can wait.

                          The only exceptions are staples that I cannot be without (onions, olive oil, flour,) and I do still try and stock up when on sale.

                          1. re: gourmaniac

                            I shop sales and specials, too. The only things I buy whether on sale or not are basics like milk, eggs, flour, and sugar. I have a small chest freezer, so often I will stock up a little on whatever meats are on sale. A local butcher shop that sells locally raised pork and beef always has weekly specials on certain cuts, so I'll buy extra and freeze. The result is that I have a freezer full of meat options and a fairly well stocked - although small - pantry. All I have to buy is fruit, veggies, and dairy items. Most of our fruit and veggie purchases are in-season as the prices for those tend to be lower. Fruit more so than veggies. I think fruit just doesn't transport/store as well as things like lettuce, broccoli, onions, cabbage, etc.

                          2. I use your old method. What is at a good price and make it work throughout the week. To me that's more fun.

                            I definitely try to mix up the proteins and veggies and dried pulses.

                            1. Especially now with food prices going ever higher, I STRONGLY prefer and frequently recommend a meal plan based on carbs. Let me explain before people wig out. The price of flour, rice, pasta, bread, and grains is far less prone to fluctuation. It'll go steadily up but thanks (snort) to grain subsidies, it's not going to spike like meat and veggies, plus it's much more rare to find grains discounted *as much as* meats or veggies can be. Add to that the fact that, when grain-based stuff *does* go on sale, you can stock up because they're mostly shelf-stable.

                              Now. That does NOT mean that you plan meals with the grains/carbs as the focus of the meal, just that those are the constants, with veggies and meats being the changeable element of each dinner. So, for example, rice might be your carb component on Mondays. So you buy the ham that's on sale, and combine it with the black beans in your cupboard and the yummy greens from the farmers' market -- et voila, dinner. Then Tuesday you do pasta, Wednesday is quinoa, Thursday is pasta or potatoes, Friday is homemade pizza, or whatever.

                              This method, IME, gives you a ton of flexibility to buy what's on sale, in season, and/or really yummy-looking while still giving you a guideline for dinners each week.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                i kinda follow lauragrace...
                                i go thru the flyers for coupons and such...
                                have a basic idea of what meats/proteins are on sale..
                                but always buy the staple sides..like veggies,rice, pasta ...
                                but with a 3 yo i dont always stick to an exact plan..i learned to be flexible..
                                i may just wing it when shes not up for a full meal..
                                and we may just have a meal of cereal and fresh fruit...or yogurt..

                                like the time i asked her what do u want for dinner?
                                and out of the blue she says "garlic bread"!!!

                                1. re: LauraGrace

                                  I like your method, it definitely makes me think about it a completely different way.

                                  I am a planner - I decide on recipes (usually several vegetarian, and two different meats). I write down everything I need for the recipes in order by section of the store. I don't have a specific day planned for each meal, but do keep in mind that I better make the fish the first day and have more "shelf stable" at the end. I also like to plan for a mix of ethnicities throughout the week. To me that's more important that switching up what meats I use.

                                2. I buy meats when on sale, and freeze in meal sized portions. If there is a good sale on a large lamb or beef roast, I buy and cut in half for two dinners. I buy shell on, raw shrimp when on sale, so I always have about two ponds available. My pantry is well stocked with pasta, rice and grains ( bought on sale!). I visit a local farm to purchase vegatables and fruit every other week, and fill in with trips to the grocery store when items are on sale ( especially oranges and red grapes) I do not plan meals for a week- the only meal really planned is Sunday meals, as I have a houseful of company to feed most Sundays. I take out the meat or fish the day before I am using it. the pantry and vegetable make up the rest of my meals.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: macca

                                    Like to buy ground beef in those large flats. Come home rip them open then score in sections.
                                    Individual portions for burgers, bigger potions for meatloaf, chili, stuffed peppers-cabbage, half portions for tacos, burritos or enchiladas. Seal a Meal each of them and freeze them. My husband can eat a hamburger patty and crispy cold iceburg lettuce every night and never tire...go figure.

                                  2. I go to the farmer's market, buy whatever I think looks good and interesting, occassionally stop at grocery store for 'pantry items' (pasta, rice, etc). Then each meal, just sort of dig around in fridge and pantry for whatever I think might go together well and concoct something. Not a planner, not a recipe person. I seldom make a dish the same way twice.

                                    1. I have a "write-on/wipe off" board on my countertop. Each week, before I go to the grocery store, I look at what's on sale, and then plan my menu for the week. I'll write down things like, "Monday - Pasta & Meatballs", "Tuesday - Chicken Fahita Salad", "Wednesday - soup night", etc. This way, I know what to make each night when I get home, I can plan my shopping for ingredients and my husband knows what NOT to have for lunch that day (to avoid any duplication between lunch and dinner). It's been working for 15 years for me! :-) If you come up with any ideas, please post them! :-)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Again masha is most like I do it.
                                        It's different depending on mood and task.
                                        List = yes or no.
                                        Sales are often the catalyst.
                                        Needed ingredient I'll go for too or won't.
                                        (If I think of something else to make instead).
                                        Just depends.

                                        1. When I'm well-organized, I head to the store with a list of meals/sides I'd like to make throughout the week. The list usually draws on items I already have in my pantry and freezer, along with anything in the fridge that needs using. Occasionally I'll buy all the ingredients I need to make a particular meal, but that often ends up being expensive and requires planning to use up the leftover ingredients.

                                          Then, when I'm at the store, I pick up the usual staples (milk, bread, eggs, cheesesticks, whole fruit, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, etc.). If I see meat that is on a good sale or reduced price, I buy that, too.

                                          I try not to overcomplicate things, and I like to keep my cupboards, pantry, and spice rack well stocked, so that if I want to make something on a whim, I have what I need to do so.

                                          1. During the winter I plan the menu for Sun-Fri on Saturday and make the grocery list from there. I usually check the freezer and pantry first to see if I have some things to work around. Then I shop on Saturday or Sunday and usually get everything needed for the upcoming week and prep several nights worth of meals on Sunday. For Friday I plan for leftovers and Saturday is pizza night. I don't worry about a specific protein as we get enough with milk, cheese and other foods. The only land-meat we'll eat is chicken and that only sometimes. In the summer I plan around the CSA delivery and plan a trip to the fish monger on Saturday for dinner Sunday and Monday. This plan lets me come home and get a great dinner served in under an hour and I don't have those pesky after work stops for this or that.

                                            1. Yes, sort of. Protein wise, most of the stuff I get is frozen from costco. As for the actual dish, I don't really plan that. I just get whatever produce looks good and go on from there. Grains, beans and other stuff I keep well-stocked, so the produce determines what's made. Get good ingredients and you'll end up with a good dish.

                                              Course, I do sometimes run into the issue of having bought too much produce.

                                              1. I'm definitely a planner. On Friday night and/or Saturday I make a list of the next week's menu. This way I know what I need to pull out of the freezer or put onto the shopping list to cook during the week. I like to have a menu set for at least Monday-Wednesday since, although I work full time, some of the days I work at home and I can get out to the store mid-week to get whatever else we might need for Thursday and Friday (some weeks we don't need anything).

                                                Saturday nights (most) my husband and I go out, so kids have something from freezer/pantry. And Sunday nights we generally go out or have chinese food (which makes good leftovers of "chicken and rice" for my picky son!).

                                                I am not very good about using coupons, but I am very good about buying things that are on sale when I am at the store. Some things I buy regardless of price. For example, grapes. My son will only eat grapes, apples, bananas and strawberries in the way of fruit. So even when grapes get expensive, we always have some on hand.

                                                1. We start at the farmer's market. We will usually pick up at least one bean/tofu/fish/clam etc. item that is cetnral protein for the dish. That morning, I also check the freezer to see what goodies from the lamb share, or pig quarter are left or any meat from the last week and start some beans soaking. When I get back from the market, I plan for the week and run to Whole Foods while the kids nap. If I have time, I also stop at the good butcher that carries good fish.

                                                  Regardless of what we cook for dinner, I always make some sort of kid friendly beany/ veggie soupy thing with a bit of meat and whole wheat pasta for the kid's lunches during the week.

                                                  Usually there is a quick trip to Trader Joes during the week for TJ things and one midweek to WF for dairy.

                                                  1. I start at the Farmer's Market in summer/fall, and buy what produce and meats/fish look good. From there I decide what to make and augment with trips to the grocery store if needed. When the Farmer's Market is sparse, I make a plan each week for what to make, make a list, and shop from the list. I try to mix it up between dishes that are in our regular rotation, and new recipes I want to try. If there are good sales, I make changes on the fly in the store, but I like to go in with an idea of what I want to make that week or I get overwhelmed and wind up with a bunch of random stuff that doesn't work together. I do try to mix up the proteins, but will do multiple chicken or pork or seafood dishes in a week if that's what I feel like making.

                                                    1. Generally we just go shopping. Starting at the veg dept. we get veg that looks good, then bakery for bread and dessert.....We both have a sweet tooth. then deli, dairy....basically we walk around with no plan until we (actually me I do most of the cooking) get ingredients then go from there. as long as there is dessert Dinner will be good.

                                                      1. I write small, so I take a post-it-note pad, remove the tan backing, and place one of the pages onto the back so that the two sticky sides stick together. On that side, I make my list, writing the grocery items on the left, drug store items in the middle, and Trader Joe stuff on the right. Then I turn it over and list what is on sale at the 2 different megamarts according to the weekly flyers I get in the mail (both may be having a sale on ribeye, but one will sell it for 3.99/lb and the other will have it at 4.99/lb.) Then I underline what I NEED to get on these lists.
                                                        I also take mental note of how the weather looks for the week: will it be warm enough to have entree salads, or will it be cold, causing everyone to prefer comfort food like stew or lasagne?
                                                        Then I take a look at the schedule; Dad's visiting on Friday, so we'll be going out for dinner, L has soccer practice Wed, so pizza or leftovers that night, etc. Then I use a small notebook to make a rough plan of what we'll have that week, based on all the above, and what I have on hand.
                                                        We're a small family, so while I stock up on paper towels, canned foods and meats when they're on sale (we have a second freezer with a running list of the meat I have in there), the essential perishables -milk, eggs, bread, cheddar, parmesan (Trader Joe's)- I don't bother looking for sales; I just get them when I need them.
                                                        As for the meals themselves: I generally try to not have more than one red-meat meal a week (or I'll have the second red meat meal just have some red meat, rather than be concentrating on the red meat...example: one day, roast beef, potatoes, salad or broccoli; the next day, veggie soup with cubed beef added, crusty bread). On the other hand, I'll do more veggie-based meals in a week.
                                                        My lifesavers are meals that include protein, veggies and starches in one dish: stir-fries, grilled veggies with leftover meat over pasta, etc. Also buy Cornish game hens and put them in the freezer: they roast much quicker than whole chickens, you don't have bags of gizzards to deal with, and the carcasses fit nicely in a pot to make stock. Oh, and you can add all SORTS of things to mac and cheese: sauteed ground beef, peas, flash-boiled broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, chopped sun-dried tomatoes & spinach, sliced sausage of any kind, etc. (use smoked gouda for more adult yumminess)
                                                        And be somewhat flexible, too! Who says you can't have a spinach omelet for dinner?

                                                        1. My grocery shopping is a mess, but it works for me. Once a month we go to New York to visit my family (about a 3.5 hour drive). I bring a large cooler and stock up on a lot of my meat from the butcher shop I've been shopping at my whole life, as well as cases of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, ravioli, delicious fresh mozzarella and other goodies that aren't readily available in Washington DC (yes, I know you can buy crushed tomatoes, but I am really particular about the brand, which I can not find down here).

                                                          I buy various cuts of meat, but meal plan to the point where I know if I need a "specialty" cut, like osso buco, for example. If I know I'm going to be making it that month, I'll buy it, along with veal cutlets, chicken cutlets, steak, etc. (I have a deep freezer at home)

                                                          At home, I mostly shop at Trader Joe's for things like yogurt, milk, eggs, crackers, etc, and supplement that with trips to the local food co-op for produce and bulk stuff. In the summer I shop at farmer's markets a lot, and we also go fruit/vegetable picking.

                                                          As far as meal planning, I make very detailed lists for the week ahead, along with what ingrediants I need to buy, the recipe if needed, etc. However, I must admit, I stray from the list often, based on whims (for example, last night was supposed to be chicken marsala, but my partner brought home delicious crusty bread that the bread delivery guy she is friends with gave her. So we stopped by the cheese shop, picked up a few different kinds along with some mango chutney, and enjoyed that with a nice salad)

                                                          1. we decide how many protein dinners we'll have in the week, and then pick out what looks best according to how much we need. after we pick out the protein, then we go to the produce section to shape the dinners and pair vegetables with the different proteins.

                                                            1. I go to the farmer's market in seasons when there's a selection, to Whole Foods for most of my items, and TJ's for certain specialty items.
                                                              I have a routine in my whole foods. And it is possible to shop there and not spend more than at other stores. I start in the produce section and see what looks good, winding my way to pick up the fresh pasta, cheese if I need it (I always have parmigiano reggiano and locatelli romano in the fridge in plastic bags). maybe a cheese and a pate slice for snacking.
                                                              I see how the fish looks, if there's anything on sale I might get a little more than enough for one meal so that I have some to bring for lunch. At work I don't care if it's re-heated fish, as long as it is decent I eat it.
                                                              I then try to see how I'm feeling about meats. I usually buy a total of 3 animal proteins including the fish. Sometimes 2. I have those flash frozen chicken breasts in the freezer but I prefer fresh meat. On the other hand I never know how much meat I will really want during the week. Before you think I'm totally capricious, while this is true, I also have a 2yo, work full time, and have a husband who works out of state.
                                                              Anyhow, I might buy a whole chicken which comes sealed, and this is convenient so that I can cook it later in the week. I also buy either lamb or ground beef. Rarely chicken cutlets, or thighs or steak.
                                                              We buy good quality dairy, butter, yoghurt, eggs. I make all of my daughter's oatmeal from scratch (really no work and then I keep it in the fridge for the week).
                                                              Once in a while we go to Costco and stock up on paper goods and the big 10lb bag of mixed frozen berries, cases of canned beans, and ketchup.
                                                              So basically I just over-fill my fridge and pantry(the pantry especially, I do try to empty the fridge with cooking) and I see what I'm in the mood for and have time to cook. I try to give myself enough options, because I may or may not feel like eating meat, like cooking a meal ahead, etc.
                                                              I used to plan everything on the weekend but I ended up with too much food actually, especially with dh not here and it just took up too much time on the weekend because I would end up cooking more elaborately.
                                                              Oh and my meals for the week, mostly from whole foods, comes to about $100. I basically have the prices of all items from all stores around here memorized.

                                                              1. We grocery shop for the staples (pastas, rice, etc) but we buy our meats at different places. We have a neighbor who owns an organic Black Angus farm so we buy a side of beef from them once a year and freeze it. Anytime we want to have beef, I just defrost it a day or so before I need it. I also go to a monthly food auction (no, I am not making that up) and so I buy all other meats (pork, chicken, occasionally lamb) from the people at the auction who butcher their own meat and I freeze it. Other than that, I do buy fruits and veggies at the grocery store in the winter but in the summer (if we ever have one here in Maryland this year) I pick from the garden. If I don't grow it then I ride the nine miles to my parents and pick from their garden and if they don't have it, I'll go to a neighbor, or a local farmer will sell it at our local auction and I'll pick it up there. I also occasionally go to Farmer's Markets (our big one starts this Sunday! YAY!) and buy stuff there.

                                                                1. I keep a range of frozen protein, and buy what's on sale fresh. If the fresh stuff has enough diversity of protein, then I just cook up whatever using that. If the fresh stuff doesn't have enough diversity, then I defrost something to supplement.

                                                                  Veggies are from the farmer's market, so whatever's in season (and typically, cheaper).

                                                                  1. I live alone and I'm a vegetarian, so my priorities are probably totally different than yours. I ALWAYS cook once on the weekend for the upcoming week of work lunches. This means I go to the grocery store with a list of things I will need for that meal. I usually also have a list of things I want to eat for dinner, but this is more flexible. I always try to stick to the outside "aisles" of the store and really only venture "inland" for things like canned tomatoes and dried beans. I also try to avoid using a shopping cart, as I buy less when I have to fit it in a basket!

                                                                    1. I usually buy bulk meats at Costco, divide it up for single meals and restock as needed. I can eat my weight in fruit, so usually get that if it looks good and whatever veg I think I can go through in a week. Except for Sundays - I can't plan anything because if I don't feel like eating it, I'm not going to cook it, therefore it will be wasted. Second stop is the grocery store for those staples that I can't use enough of to warrant bulk packaging. the Farmer's Market for me is an "event" and I am terrible about buying too much, so I proceed with caution. Quick stops on the way home from work for anything I need for that night. If I'm too lazy for that - it's eggs or oatmeal for dinner if no leftovers are hanging around.

                                                                      1. It's probably the German (or European) in me, but I pretty much shop for groceries every day. By the time I get to the store - Wegmans, in this case - or the farmer's market, I generally have an idea for dinner already, and will buy what I need for that. If those ingredients aren't around or something else strikes my fancy, my dinner plans might change. I'm pretty flexible like that.

                                                                        I never shop groceries for a whole week ahead, but I really tend to mix up my "proteins", vegetables, etc., otherwise I'd get bored.

                                                                        1. I buy the majority of my meat and all of my eggs from my co-op, produce from my local independent market, and staples like frozen veggies from a regular supermarket. I have a chest freezer so I can stock up and go a couple weeks without shopping if necessary. Our meals are always meat and veggies.

                                                                          1. I like to rotate protein sources, but by and large I only buy meat the day I plan to cook it - the main exception being for major dinner parties, where I tend to shop the day before to make sure I can get the cut and quality I need for the menu I have in mind.

                                                                            I'm in the city and there's a good supermarket a few doors down from the gym I go to most days after work - both just ten minutes walk from my house (and I work from a home office).

                                                                            For daily dinners I just pop in after my workout and see what looks good and/or is on sale. I've got a vast repertoire of "on the table in under an hour" meals, and tend to save the braising and other slow recipes for the weekends.

                                                                            1. I don't plan. I just buy whatever's cheap at the greengrocer, butcher and at the supermarket. I tend to shop quite a few times a week. This works well for me because then end up buying what I actually feel like cooking and don't end up wasting food.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Billy33

                                                                                As so many have said, when I'm at my best I'm very organized. I have used various computerized cooking databases for many years. Now I use something call Now Your Cooking. I have various cookbooks within the database but I'll plan from first from either the group of favorites or from the TRIED list. I also have a collection labelled TRY SOON. I look at the calendar--how much time will I have, are we going out etc.--then I check the refrigerator. I keep a stocked pantry so I check it and the freezer to see what do I want to be sure is used soon. The recipes I choose will create a shopping list. i will also have a menu plan that is always available for me to check. I check off things I already have and plan my shopping from that. I have a lovely set of cookbooks that I rarely use anymore. I prefer the farmer's market when possible, but I also use the luxury of Fresh Direct here in NYC.
                                                                                I'm bad about planning quick/easy meals and always have been so dinner time in my house is a roving target. I think it was better, had to be, when I had little children.

                                                                              2. I am a vegetarian, and I find that makes it much easier to shop as most veg proteins have a much longer shelf life than meat. I always keep a large selection of beans and lentils on hand, keep tempeh in the fridge and freezer and some tofu in the fridge. The only thing I need to buy to keep things rotating are vegetables and in that case I just buy whatever looks good/fresh/in season or I've been craving. I shop often and usually with specfic meals in mind but do that at the market.

                                                                                The stock-up shop is more for breakfast when I get yogurt, juice, fruit, frozen fruit, bread, honey, peanut butter, that stuff. We are only two people and don't have kids so shopping often is not an inconvenience.

                                                                                1. This must sound completely disorganized and I realize that I'm wasting money, but I shop every day for what I would like for lunch and dinner.Things I always keep in the house are rice and pasta, cheese and butter, and I have a well stocked spice cabinet. But I have no way of knowing what I will be hungry for on any given day until that day is there. It's fine for me as my grocery store is 5 minutes away. And it's particularly important in my case that all my meals are really appealing as I've dealt with some appetite loss due to a medication I need to take.
                                                                                  And I just enjoy going to the store :) It's a part of my day.

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                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                    I'm just like you. I have no idea what I want to eat until the very day I'm cooking. We get seasonal fruit and veg delivered as well as some meat and staples such as bread milk and eggs, so I can always pull a meal together if need be. I live so close to the shop and am such a disorganised person that shopping most days is the only way I can make it work.

                                                                                  2. Every Friday or Saturday I sit down with a notebook and list a bunch of foods I would like to make for the week. I then pencil in all the days where I already have meal commitments. From there I slot in the meal ideas that I have in ways that make sense. For example I like cooking things early in the week that will provide leftovers for upcoming lunches. On Fridays I'm not concerned with having leftovers.

                                                                                    I like to have variety in my proteins but it isn't a goal necessarily. My body will automatically veto a 5-night beef run or something so I usually end up with a vegetarian nights, a seafood night or two and then maybe chicken, beef or pork.

                                                                                    I always go to the store with a list grouped by ingredients for each meal that way if I don't get a particular ingredient that is crucial for a certain meal I can easily identify the rest of the ingredients for that particular dish and know not to buy them.


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                                                                                    1. re: wontonfm

                                                                                      just worked with a vegan a week or so ago, a new lady, I didn't know her.
                                                                                      anyway, she made quite a bit of sense about the choices you can have eating vegan.
                                                                                      although I like some meat/poultry/fish proteins quite a bit, sometimes it's just
                                                                                      a good feeling in my stomach to have fruits and vegs. I honestly crave green foods.
                                                                                      so my body veto's too :)

                                                                                    2. No. I'm on food stamps and my weekly grocery budget is 40 dollars per week. So I have to choose, usually I get some pig product and a whole chicken. One meal is meant to last two or three days.

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                                                                                      1. re: YAYME

                                                                                        You're doing a lot with little, then, YAYME. Props.

                                                                                        1. re: YAYME

                                                                                          I can definitely see getting several meals from a chicken. We don't eat a lot of protein at one sitting, so for the four of us, I might serve a roasted chicken one night, use the leftover meat with some veggies to make a chicken salad, and then use the bones in a soup that is mostly veggies.

                                                                                          1. re: YAYME

                                                                                            Whole chickens are awesome. My husband and I ate 4 dinners out of the last chicken I made, and I save the backbones and necks from each chicken in a gallon freezer bag. When it's full, I make stock in the crockpot. If I cut the whole chicken into separate pieces, then I usually cut the breast meat off the ribs and save the whole carcass, plus neck and wings but minus the legs, in the freezer for stock.

                                                                                            1. re: Jen76

                                                                                              Another one for breaking down whole chickens - probably the best animal protein value to be had.

                                                                                          2. Like masha upstream, I also take a Chopped approach to meals, so I buy whatever proteins look good and are reasonably priced or on sale (and I do try every week to get some poultry, some red meat, something from the sea), and go nuts on produce. And then I decide day to day what I'm going to make for dinner based on what I've got.

                                                                                            1. Like many here I'm driven by what looks good, what's on sale and what I need. I don't plan menus in advance. Menu items are most often thought up as I walk through the produce and meat section of the market but then all can change once I get home. I currently have a side of salmon that was on sale that has been brined and is drying and is ready to smoke. A whole chicken is sitting in the fridge as well and a large primal beef shoulder in cryo is also tucked in the fridge and will make some really good pulled BBQ beef in the near future. All items looked good and were on sale or I had some in store coupon for X off if you spend Z.

                                                                                              1. very different system of shopping here, mainly because I live in a small city and transport myself and whatever I'm carrying by bike only.

                                                                                                My husband shops for the basics twice a week - joghurt, milk, juice, cleaning products, TP, granola, mineral water, wine and beer. Then I shop on a daily basis for whatever I'm cooking for dinner that night. It usually means a brief stop at the grocery store on the way home for fresh vegetables, meat, fish or chicken (allthough we often eat vegetarian dinners).

                                                                                                I start thinking about what I feel like cooking and eating when I get on my bike, and after 10 minutes when I get to the grocery store I know what's for dinner (combining, in my head, things that I still have in the fridge with stuff I have to buy).

                                                                                                1. During the school year, I am a huge menu planner. I have 3 kids who are all really busy with activities and without a meal plan, we would never eat. I meal plan on Sunday or Monday and shop on one of those days too. I have a master calendar on Outlook for the whole family and I include each day's meals on that calendar. I also have the recipe location in the details of Outlook so I can easily pull up my recipe.

                                                                                                  I do vary what we eat during the week by both protein source and cuisune (italian, asian etc).

                                                                                                  1. Once a month/everyother month make a trip to Costco for my proteins (chicken, salmon) to stick in the freezer. Weekly I check the ads for good sales on meat to supplement what is in the freezer. I try to plan my meals for the week, but I tend to wait at see what is a good price. It gets tiresome trying to plan ever week.
                                                                                                    I do keep a list on the fridge so I know what needs to be replaced. My weekly budget for shopping for the two of us is $60 (including paper goods, cat food, etc.). So I tend to start @ Russo's (small local market) to buy my fresh produce. Then Shaws (larger change) or Market Basket (another chain) for staples and sales items. And then if I have anything left over (or if the sales are good) I head to Whole foods. I'm luckily enough to have plenty of options of where to shop w/in walking distance so if I forget a critical ingredient (and I have the $$ to buy it) it is not a big hassle to make multiple trips.

                                                                                                    1. I have three kinds of grocery runs I do. There's the monthly "everything" run (that includes a caramel latte to enhance the "shopping experience") where I get soap and condiments and whatever items that only loosely count as "food." To me, cinnamon and mustard aren't part of the "food" category...chicken, broccoli and cheese are foods (it makes sense to me!) Then there are my weekly perishable ingredient runs. That's where I get the chicken, broccoli and cheese so that I get the freshest products. In those runs I'll tactically buy super deals (like $0.79/lb chicken) but other wise it's only enough food for the week. The last run is the random OH **** I need capers, one fig and a small bag of corn nuts.

                                                                                                      One strategic run per month, four tactical runs and emergency runs as necessary. Yes I think like this. No, no one else understands.