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Supermarket Shopping 101: Our advice, tips & tricks will make your next trip to the supermarket a breeze!

Supermarket Shopping 101

Here on A Family Feast, we’re all about sharing all kinds of delicious recipes. But shopping for, and choosing the best ingredients you can find, is just as important as following the recipe itself.

Make a meal plan for the week

Meal planning (and meal prepping) is all the rage these days. It really is a great way to save time and money when it comes to grocery shopping, and getting meals on the table when schedules are busy.

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

The concept of meal planning is to make a list of ALL of the meals you plan to serve for the entire week ahead. Gather the recipes, review the ingredients list (and cooking instructions), then make a complete list of all of the foods and other cooking supplies you’ll need to prepare the recipes. (In some cases you might realize that you can “cook once, eat twice” – eating leftovers from one meal at another meal later on in the week!)

Having a meal plan really is a great way to get organized even before you set foot in the supermarket. When you head to the store – buy everything for the meals you make during the week ahead in just one shopping trip. This is a great time saver because you won’t have to make any other stops for groceries during the week – and you might find it saves you money too! (No impulse purchases when you are hungry!)

Supermarket Shopping 101

Group similar items together on your shopping list

You might laugh when you read this, but Jack and I typically do two versions of our grocery shopping lists – especially when we have a big shopping trip ahead of us.

The first version is the list of everything we need for the week ahead. Then, we re-write the list, grouping similar items together on the list so when we’re at the store, we can more easily find everything we need off the list. For example, group all produce together, all dairy, all meats, etc. (Confession time: When I don’t do this, I’m notorious for missing that one item on the shopping list – even if I’m crossing items off as I put them in my cart!)

If you are familiar with the layout of your supermarket, you could even go a step further – and list the groups of items on your shopping list in the order you’ll find them at the store.

Click here for a Sample Shopping List

Supermarket Shopping 101

Choose the freshest produce available

Your recipes will turn out the best when you use the freshest ingredients available. Here are some tips for choosing the best options:

  • Avoid produce with bruises and brown spots.
  • Seek out the products with the longest sell-by dates on the package.
  • Know when fruits and vegetables are in season – then plan your meals around that as much as possible. You’ll also pay less for in-season produce because it can be grown locally and won’t need to travel as far to get onto your supermarket shelves.

Supermarket Shopping 101

  • Ask your store’s produce manager to tell you when they receive their produce shipments each week (they will be happy to tell you) – then shop around that time. Mornings are often the best time to shop for produce because larger supermarkets have staff that works overnight to unload trucks and restock stores.
  • We also recommend staying away from produce that is pre-cut or premixed and most other convenience items. While they can be a time saver in the kitchen, you’ll never know how fresh the produce is. Plus – it’s so much less expensive to buy the whole fruit or vegetable – then cut it at home.
  • If possible, check out your local farmer’s market and buy produce there. Sure – the prices are sometimes higher – but consider that you are helping to support a local farmer’s business. Plus – you are more likely to be buying organic produce that is fresh from the farm.

Supermarket Shopping 101

Choose the freshest meats, seafood, and dairy available

  • Similar to produce, search for packages with the longest codes.
  • For meats – look at the color and avoid beef that is starting to turn brown or gray
  • Chicken should look plump and pale, not withered and pasty.
  • Seafood should smell like salt air – if it smells ‘fishy’ stay away.

Supermarket Shopping 101

Get perishables safely home

Bring a cooler or insulated tote with ice to store perishables for the ride home – especially on warm summer days. Even a short ride home in a hot car can start to impact the freshness of produce, fish and meats.

Supermarket Shopping 101

Watch for sales on Pantry Items

Click here to read more about Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry. Then, watch for sales on dry goods, canned items, and other pantry items with a long shelf life – and stock up when you can.


These are some of the products we use for our own shopping trips

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  • Cary wrote:

    I love the pictures! I shop at the same brand supermarket as you do! Great tips. I do the same, making my list and organizing what I need by the pattern of the store. I also review each weeks flyer as well as specials in the rewards program. I love saving money!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Cary!

  • Debbie wrote:

    I take my grocery shopping one step further and designed an excel spreadsheet laid out by each aisle of 3 stores I shopped at. It makes my trips to the store faster and more efficient. I also add to the list of items I may need later as well.

    • Martha wrote:

      Great idea Debbie!

  • Robin Lee wrote:

    Most of your hot linkd on’t work on my windows computer. Some do which tells me it’s not my computer causing the problem.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Robin – Thanks for letting us know…is the link issue in our emails or on our site? Would you let me know which browser you are using too? Would love to troubleshoot if I can. Thanks.

  • Jessica wrote:

    Hi guys! Stumbled onto your website as I was searching for a recipe and I am SO THANKFUL I did!! I just read your article Supermarket Shopping 101 and I couldn’t but laugh. Everything you suggested is my normal routine for meal planning/grocery shopping. My husband ALWAYS laughs at me when he sees my 2 or 3 different lists and then laughs harder when I rewrite it in order of our grocery store. Although he does know this saves time and money, it just wouldn’t be the same if he didn’t make fun of me. Good to know I’m not alone in this. Cheers!!

    • Martha wrote:

      LOL – we’re glad you found us Jessica – good to know we’re not alone either! 🙂

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