Do You Need to Plan Before Going to the Grocery Store?

If you know me, you know I definitely fall under the “Type A” personality. I’m organized. I hate being late and am (usually) very punctual. I am also very much so into planning and try to plan (or at least control) pretty much any aspect of my life.

Being a Type A personality, you’d imagine that I plan out my meals for the week and write a list of items to get for when I get to the grocery store. This is all true. I actually spend about 20-30 minutes a week exploring recipes on Pinterest to then plan my meals and grocery list before going to the store.

However, this past week, I didn’t have that extra time to plan, so I just walked into the grocery store with the plan of just getting a bunch of fruits, veggies, and protein and figuring it out later. I absolutely “winged” it. What?!

Before you call me crazy, hear me out. 

I definitely understand the importance of planning at least the slightest bit before going to the grocery store. It can save you time, money, waste, and as long as you don’t go hungry, can help you avoid picking up food you don’t need. On top of all that, if you’re failing to plan for your grocery trip, you’re much more likely to fail to eat healthy throughout the week. But….

It was SO refreshing to go without a plan this week. Here’s why. 

I was actually more efficient. 

Remember how I mentioned I spent 20-30 minutes each week scrolling through recipes on Pinterest? Well, I saved those 30 minutes this week and just focused on picking up healthy items I typically get.

I was able to make a variety of meals instead of one for each meal. 

Meal prepping is great. However, one thing Conor began to get sick of with meal prepping was sticking with one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner throughout the week. We could just be failing at meal prepping in general, but it just felt complicated planning for multiple meals for each meal of the day, so we generally planned one (maybe two) breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals for the week.

It gave me creativity and flexibility to make what I was feeling. 

You know when you get home from a busy day at work and you’re just not in the mood to eat what you planned at the beginning of the week? For Conor and I, when that happens, we typically end up ordering a pizza or going out to eat, which can be bad for your waistline. Not having a plan just forced me to get creative and use what we bought!

It forced me to actually use what I bought. 

Because we didn’t get sick of what we planned to make mid-way through the week, we actually used all of the food. What I mean by this is I noticed I hadn’t made a dent in the bag of tomatoes mid-way through the week. So, our next dinner, we used a hefty amount of tomatoes. It is only Thursday, but we’ve made a great dent in the amount of food we bought and are on track to clear the fridge come Sunday.

It forced me to use leftovers that had been sitting in the pantry/fridge. 

You know when you create a particular meal and it calls for something you don’t typically buy? Buying our groceries this way forced us to use some of the half-consumed items in our fridge and pantry such as rice, sauces/dressings, tuna, etc.

Most of all, it was REFRESHING. 

We are so regimented on a day to day basis. We follow a schedule. We have a list of to-do’s. We plan out nearly every aspect of our lives so it was so refreshing to have one less thing to worry about this week and to just act intuitively.

All in all, I see both sides of the argument.

If you wing it each time you go to the grocery store, you may end up either buying a bunch of crap, or not getting something you need for a particular meal you end up making. However, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the benefits of intuitively grocery shopping and making meals as the week progressed. So pleased I could definitely see myself going this route for a little while and see how it affects my eating habits!

Now, if you’re typically a planner and want to give intuitively grocery shopping a go, here are a couple tips I have for you. 

  • Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Duh.
  • Stick to healthy eats. If you don’t buy crappy food, you won’t eat it.
  • When in the store… generally, walk the perimeter and avoid the inside aisles.
  • Be sure to get staple items (items you typically always need like eggs, yogurt, lettuce, etc.)
  • Stock up on veggies especially. They’re versatile and you’ll end up using them all.
  • Get a variety of meats and some of your favorite fruits.
  • Get a variety of foods to base your meals off of such as lettuce, rice, noodles, potatoes, etc.
  • Make sure you’re stocked up on decently healthy sauces/dressings to give your taste buds new flavors throughout the week.

Are you a planner or a winger? Do you have some meal planning/prepping tips to share? I’m curious! Share them in the comments below!