Grocery shopping is one of the basic foundations of our health. Learning how to do it well can help you save tons of time and money. If you incorporate these simple steps into your weekly routine, you will not only reap the benefits of home cooked meals, as well as delicious leftovers for lunch, but will also be able to maintain a busy work schedule and usually get everything done.

vancouver market

Buying food in bulk is much more affordable, and also produces much less waste. These beautiful bulk legumes are from a public market in Vancouver, Canada.

Here are some useful tips for saving time shopping, so that you can spend more time being healthy:

• Avoid the rush. Always try to shop at unpopular times and off hours whenever possible.

• Plan your meals in advance. You have two different opportunities here: First, you can plan your meals during the weekend; then make a list and purchase all of your ingredients at once. You can also pick up more fresh produce mid-week for the remaining meals. The second option is creating a regular meal schedule. Compile 7-10 meals that you are really good at preparing; create meal “nights”, like “Curry Night” or “Taco Tuesdays”. In the long run this will save you a great deal of time, because not only does practice makes perfect, but practice also makes for better efficiency and time usage.

• Grocery map shopping list. Huh? Here’s the real genius — try shopping in the same order every time and begin to create your list based off aisles and the general layout of the store. If you shop at a co-op, memorize or print out your most common PLU numbers for bulk items.

• Stock up. Buy large amounts of things that you use regularly, like toilet paper and dish soap. Have backup so you aren’t going to the store mid-week for things you already know you need; otherwise you’ll leave the store with more than you came for. Fewer trips to the store saves you more money as well as time.

• Shop full. Don’t shop hungry; you will spend way more money and buy things that aren’t as good for you on an empty stomach. If you have to go to the market  hungry, first buy a nutritious meal, then sit down and eat it before you begin shopping. Make this a regular practice.

• Shop at the same place. This will save you more time as you become familiar with the store layout as well as discount specials.

• Prep your groceries as soon as you get home. Wash and dry produce and store them in containers or bags. Put a paper towel in with the lettuce, cilantro and parsley after washing to keep it fresh and from getting soggy. Consider investing in green produce bags; they can help to increase the life of fruits and vegetables.

• Master grocery list. Always keep it in the same place and when you run out of something, just add it to the list.