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How To Buy Groceries When You Don't Know How To Buy Groceries

Updated: May 21, 2020

In my post "What Living Alone Has Taught Me" I mentioned that in my first alone, adult trip to the grocery store, I had to call my mom because I didn't know what to buy to not go hungry.

In this post, I will share with you my mother's wisdom on "hacer los mandados."

1. Don't go hungry

Eat before you set foot in the grocery store or you'll end up with a cart full of things only a child would buy. Once, I did not heed this advice and ended up with two boxes of doughnuts, bananas that went bad in a day, greek blueberry yogurt I never ate and chips. Lots of chips. So yeah, make sure you have at least a Snickers before you do the buying.

2. Make a list

Basic but oh so essential. When you go in blind you can't rely on your photographic memory to remember if you need milk and if the coffee is low or if the rice canister is empty. You have to make a list. Make it at home while looking through your cupboards and in your fridge. This will save you money and time spent aimlessly wandering through aisles at the store.

3. Check off all the food groups

Let's say you're starting off from scratch with an empty fridge and pantry.

Make sure your list includes proteins like fish, chicken, beef, turkey, pork, eggs. Also get some grain in there like beans (your preference), rice, quinoa, couscous.

Don't forget the veggies but the ones you know you will actually eat. For me those are spinach, arugula, kale, carrots, cherry tomatoes.

Fruits are also a must. My favorites are bananas, avocados, and pineapples. 100% fruit juices are also a great way to get your daily fruit intake.

Get breakfast items like milk, bread, oats, coffee or whatever it is you like to start your day with.

And last but not least: Aliños which is spices in Spanish. This is what makes the food flavorful. They include but are not limited to: peppers, onions, garlic, tomato paste, vinegar, achiote, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, turmeric and so on.

4. Some things should last longer than others

Buy meat for at least two weeks. I like to buy enough for a month but often it lasts way more than that because my mom still makes me meals hehehe. Spices should also last you a long while. More so if they are in powder form.

Milk and other dairy products go bad sooner so those you will want to buy less of and more often. This also goes for fruits and veggies if not frozen.

5. Stay in your budget

Do not be tricked by end cap displays in grocery stores! I worked retail for three years and I learned that you can always find the same item at lower cost within the aisle than on that end cap. Trust me.

That's it.

Happy grocery shopping everybody!

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