How We Do: Groceries

This post is going to be rivoting. Mind-boggling good. Blow your socks off. Super boring?….Or maybe actually very interesting for others….I don’t really know!

I got a lot of questions after I posted in passing that I get groceries 2 times a month. So this post is about just that. I like to figure out ‘systems’ for doing things; I guess I’m a creature of habit and it makes life a lot easier. As far as groceries go, I’ve done the once-a-month system, the freezer-meals system, the no-plan lack of system, the I’m-hungry system, the I’m-nauseated-constantly-but-still-have-to-cook system………everything has had a season. HA! I like reading how other families do things and stealing their ideas. 😉 I stalk other bloggers and pinterest in my spare time, AKA after 10pm when I should be sleeping!

Get ready for this wildly exciting ride….


Aldi here we come! (They’re remodeling)

I start usually 1 or 2 days before I get groceries, and I plan dinners for 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes what I plan actually lasts longer than that. I have a master set of dinner recipes with listed ingredients that I have in a binder in sheet protectors. This way the papers don’t get all nasty when I cook, because when the kids help in the kitchen there’s no hope for neatness. There’s probably 30 of the recipes, I’ve never counted. They are easy recipes that I know we like and are decently healthy and GF. Win-win-win. I don’t like to re-invent the wheel every 2 weeks. I don’t plan for breakfast or lunches because it’s always the same…..we eat eggs or cereal or protein bar for breakfast and leftovers for lunch (G and L eat school lunch). I have the name of each recipe written on a post-it. I keep this all in a binder. So I take my calendar and stick a post it to the days for the next 2 or 3 weeks to designate which meals we’ll have when. I like the post-its as then I can change it up if I want without having to scribble all over the calendar. And yes I recently color coded the post-its because I AM A HUGE ORGANIZING DORK. I blame Mel for that quality. 😉 Blue is soups/stews, green/yellow is stuff to bake or grill, coral/pink is crock pot. And the fighter plane on the right is just for you to wonder about 😉


So then I make a grocery list for all the recipes I’ve stuck to the calendar. This is super quick because all of the recipes have the ingredients listed in the binder! Genius, I know. Too bad it wasn’t my original idea (thanks Pinterest). I have a little magnetic list on the fridge too where we write things when they run out, so I add those to the list as well. I get super nerdy here and organize my list by category – pantry (canned/boxed goods, etc), fridge/freezer, and produce because this makes sense to me and saves me time. I’ve also started buying flats of common canned goods that we go through a ton of. A flat at Aldi cost like $4-5 depending what it is. I get what’s on the list plus quite a bit more because I don’t always write the regular things down (ie bananas or milk) or specials they may have in store that day. This whole planning session takes me maybe 15 mins depending how many times I’m interrupted.


So then it’s time to shop. I seriously have to psyche myself up for this, and sometimes I’ll even tell my coworkers or J that tomorrow I’m getting groceries so I’m trying to prepare myself. This is legit. It’s an undertaking. I pack the diaper bag and put my list in there the night before because it really sucks when you go to all this work then forget your list!

Amelia and Ruth are always my 2 tag-alongs because we go right after we drop the bigs at school in the morning. Ruth goes in my sling and Amelia either walks or sits in the top of the cart. We  go to Walmart first and get the few things that we cannot get at Aldi, then we go to Aldi and get the rest. Amelia does really well grocery shopping if I let her get licorice. You see, the licorice is right by the entrance door to the store. I let her get a licorice, and she sits in the cart the rest of the time coddling and protecting her tiny box of licorice that she’s been told she can have a few of after we’re done, as long as she’s a good helper. She does this through the whole store. I try to cross stuff off as we go, but soon my cart is overflowing and I cannot locate the list because it’s now buried beneath the 6 dozen eggs and 3 loaves of bread…..


Would you believe that on this very day I forgot my BAGS!? Rookie mistake! It was almost a tragedy. I snagged a mountain of produce boxes and we trudged along. Aldi rocks.


So we go to check out. I forgot the salsa…dang it. My kids have been great, Ruth hasn’t even made a peep. I always get a lot of looks at the checkout. I think it’s either pity or the she’s-crazy look, but I can never tell. What???? Doesn’t everyone buy 6 gallons of milk at a time?!?! So some guy named Larry (Amelia wanted to know his name) who’s behind us in line gets tired of waiting on me to unload this heap, so he takes it upon himself to unload half of the cart for me. Bless his heart. I pay for our food and thank him, then it’s onto another huge task, boxing/bagging all that food! I get it all in the boxes, but then it won’t all fit in my cart. I’m mentally assessing the problem when stranger #2, and Aldi worker, takes pity on me and tells me to take an extra cart that she has. So I have TWO CARTS. This is another issue. I have a baby strapped to me, a 3 year old who is darn ready to eat her licorice, and 2 carts to get to the car. I take the gigantic cart first, put girls in the car, unload cart #1, lock the car, run furiously back into the store and grab cart #2, unload it into the car, buckle up kids, lock car, run furiously again to return the cart to the corral, then hop in. Another issue–Ruth needs a diaper change! There is no empty available flat space in the car. I am NOT going back into the store. I change her on my lap.


Cart #1

So we drive home. At home I unload all the groceries into the kitchen….my weightlifting for the day! Talk about multitasking! Amelia is in charge of putting away canned goods into the corner pantry and I put away the rest. If G or L happens to be home on grocery day, they are in charge of putting away produce and upper corner pantry stuff, but today it’s just me and the 3 year old.  4 gallons of milk and 4 dozen eggs go into the overflow fridge in the basement along with anything else I can’t find a home for. 3 loaves of bread go into the deep freeze. The rest goes in the kitchen.


I’m tired. And now it’s time to make lunch. Licorice for lunch, anyone? JK….


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