As mentioned in another thread, I don't drive, so I am limited to what I can carry at any given time. This results in me going to some type of food store at least a few times a week, if not more. This has its pros and cons. On one hand I catch mark downs and sales more often and fresher things being stocked just because I am there so often. On the other hand I can't really buy in bulk, sometimes have to put things back I really need because I just don't have enough hands, and other times I end up picking up little things here and there on several trips that I probably don't need which adds up.
I am trying to get a little more efficient with my shopping because of budgetary constraints and the selfish reason that I don't want to lug stuff home in sub zero temperatures three to five times a week over the coming months. To that end I have implemented the following changes to my instinctual foraging on many small trips regime:
-At the beginning of the month my boyfriend and I get a bulk freezer meat deal from the butcher that has a variety of meats and cuts--it is heavy as hell to carry home, but cheaply provides us with a bulk of our proteins for the month. This frees up the rest of the month to pick up veggies, supplemental meats, eggs, other staples as needed. This has forced us to get better about defrosting things and then using them ASAP.
-I simply can't plan meals ahead of time unless I am craving something in particular. Instead, if we have chicken thawing we say "what sounds good?", decide on a use and go pick up the things we need to use with the chicken at that point. It has reduced rotting veggies in the crisper by a lot.
-I make it a point to check my fridge inventory often to try and avoid moldy leftovers and slimy veggies and adapt accordingly. Leftovers get bumped to the top of the list and meals get crafted around using up what is in there (or they are thrown in the stockpot), period. Poverty is forcing me to be less fickle and waste less. If I start to get all "But I hate planning! I just want X,Y,Z!" I remind myself that I eat by desire and instinct most of the time and eating that leftover curry is not going to end that.
-I keep a running shopping list in a dedicated notebook that stays in my backpack so I have a better idea of what I need and don't blank out in the store.
-Meat on sale takes priority and gets bought and used over the recipe I had in mind nine times out of ten. The other time it gets bought and frozen.