easing grocery shopping woes

Drumroll please.

I'm not a cook. Hence, grocery shopping is usually a whirlwind of an experience lacking any rhyme or reason. I usually don't even attend such events. Chad is the elected food gatherer; I just eat what the pantry holds. 

Enter Ricky and Carla. Sweet new friends of ours who welcomed us for dinner last night. Our dogs played (actually, their Australian Shepard herded our Shiba Ina-quite a show) while we enjoyed yummy cajun chicken alfredo. Conversation was not lacking, and took a turn toward grocery shopping. I can't remember how this happened, but I'm glad it did.

Carla, the great cook, grocery shops once a month. Yup, once a month. This is how she makes it work.

1. In a notebook, vertically list every day of the next month.

2. Assign a recipe that you commonly make and are familiar with (or a new one you want to try) to each day of the month. *Hint: If you know one meal always leaves your family with leftovers, be sure to pencil in the leftover meal.

3. Grab some small cards to serve as "dinner cards". You can use card stock and just cut them down to desired size. On one side of the card write the dinner's name; "breakfast for dinner", "chicken parmesan", "chili". On the other side, write down the ingredients you needed to make that dinner. 

4. Group and arrange the dinner cards by days of the week.

5. Flip the dinner cards over to show the ingredients necessary. Make your grocery list directly from your recipes for the month. Structure your list by areas of the grocery store to make your visit most effective. (For obvious reasons, Carla buys produce and dairy items weekly or biweekly.)

6. Carla then arranges the dinner cards on a menu bulletin board she constructed. Her menu board was a pinterest-inspired project similar to this.

7. When freezing meat for the month, separate it by recipe and label. That way, as Carla notes, it makes it easy for husbands to fetch the chicken for chicken pasta when they simply search the freezer for the item labeled "chicken pasta".