If you have worked through parts 1-3 for developing a capsule menu and your “go-to” dishes, the next step is to develop a pantry list/grocery list so that you always have all needed ingredients on hand. This is NOT a necessary step to having a happily functioning capsule menu…but can make grocery shopping and price comparing so much easier!
First, take a piece of paper and divide it into eight columns. Label your columns: Meat, Dairy, Grains & Beans, Vegetables, Fruits, Baking, Spices, Other.
Next, look at your capsule menu and begin to list the ingredients you need for each meal in the appropriate category. Or, look through your cupboards and write down what you find. Remember, this is a working document…don’t worry about getting it perfect or about forgetting something…you can always add it later! This list can help yo make your grocery list, restock your pantry/freezer and compare prices from multiple stores easily…or you just may not need to make this list because you already have a well stocked pantry/freezer! (Or you may just hate making lists!)
I grocery shop once each week (usually on Wednesday afternoon). So, when I make my list, I look at the next 7 or 8 days of my capsule menu and see what ingredients I may need. Then I compare with what I already have and see what I need to add to my list. I try to keep on hand at least twice of what I might need for the next week…that way if I forget something or we have unexpected guests and need to double a recipe, I still have enough.
Knowing my capsule menu and my pantry/freezer, I can easily purchase in bulk when I see a good sale on things I know I will use. Dry goods are easy to store and last for a large time in storage. I buy oatmeal, brown rice, dried black beans, barley, millet, craisins, coconut oil, etc in bulk. We like craisins on baked oatmeal and in trail mix, so when Costco had a $4 instant rebate on each bag, I bought two bags (the limit) each time we went to Costco during the sale. The sale lasted for about a month. So, I ended up with eight bags of craisins for almost 50% off!
I use sticky notes stuck to my fridge to keep a running list of the all things that we are running low on. I keep a separate sticky not for each store (brick and mortar and online) so that my list is always ready. Most of my online purchases are from Vitacost and Azure Standard. I tend to order from Vitacost every couple of months…sometimes once a month. I order from Azure Standard a few times a year. The rest of my grocery shopping is done at Aldi and Costco with the occasional run to another grocery store for the few items I can’t get at either place. We also buy raw goat milk (in season) and some pasture raised chickens from a small farm near us. We keep our meals simple and repeat many ingredients. This keeps our cooking, shopping and pantry/freezer simple to!