A grocery shopping list is a beautiful thing.

FullSizeRender.jpg I’m old school when it comes to shopping lists. I still write them down. I’ll write them on a paper towel, paper plate, back of a receipt, anything I can find. My daughter likes to collect my shopping lists. She’s asked me to save them so someday she can make a collage out of them, which I think is sort of sweet. I’m old enough that she wants to keep track of those weird little quirks of mine.

Now it’s the norm to use your phone or tablet for your shopping list. Technology is front and center when it comes to meal planning and cooking. New tools are being developed everyday to make grocery shopping easier and more efficient.

Whether you favor old-school handwritten lists or high-tech mobile lists, it’s a beautiful thing. Here’s why:
  1. If you are making a list, that means you are looking ahead and planning your meals. Meal planning saves you time and money. You’ll save time by making fewer trips to the store and you’ll make good use of your time while you’re in the store. You’ll save money because you have plans to use up what you are buying.
  2. If you make a list, stick to it. When you plan your meals, don’t forget to add healthy snacks to your list. If you have good food at home, it will be easier to make good food choices. Remember: The more you prepare your own meals, the healthier you will be. The only way to really know what’s in your food is to make it yourself.
  3. If you have kids, they will learn by your example. If they see you making lists and planning ahead, there’s a better chance they’ll do it too. I let my kids cross stuff off the list as we went through the store. Now that they are grown, they click the ingredients off their lists on their phones. Makes me happy :-)
Here are a few tips to make your shopping list better.
  1. When you make your list, put the items you need in these categories: Meat/ Seafood, Produce, Deli, Frozen, Dairy, and Packaged Goods. It will improve your chances that you are not forgetting anything.
  2. Check your pantry and fridge to make sure you don’t already have something. Frequently, I have thought I needed to purchase something only to find I already had 1 or 2 of the same item stashed at the back of my pantry.
  3. Be consistent about bringing a list. It’s always tempting to “wing it” but you’ll end up purchasing random ingredients that don’t get used.
Tips to reduce food waste:
  1. There are lots of opportunities to use leftovers in recipes. Be creative and throw in leftover parsley, garlic, onions, scallions or herbs into almost anything.
  2. Force yourself to cook out of what you have in the fridge and freezer once a week. Take 5 minutes to think about it and come up with something. I promise you will. With a little effort and imagination, you’ll make a wonderful meal and feel good knowing you used up ingredients.
  3. Pack or serve leftovers for lunch. You’ll reduce waste, save money by not going out, and save a LOT of calories because your home cooked food is better for you than restaurant fare or fast food.

Never underestimate the power of cooking your own meals. It’s hard to eat well in America. There are so many choices and even when you try to choose the best things for yourself and your family, the packaging is hard to navigate through even for the best cooks. Stick to fresh ingredients and learn to enjoy simpler preparations.

Eat real food. Feel good. Stay active.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to share it with a friend, please do. At Meal5.com, our mission is to help people who know they should be eating better actually do it on a consistent basis. Our meal planning tool uses simple, healthy video recipes to teach you how to cook easy, healthy meals for yourself and your family. Thank you for taking time to read this article.