When I was in college, I claimed to love grocery shopping. There was something about going to a supermarket to pick up ingredients for a Sunday dinner or just a batch of cookies with the girls that felt so…adult.
Now that grocery shopping has become a “have-to” instead of a “get-to,” my feelings on this activity have certainly soured. You mean I have to feed myself, and other people, every day, multiple times a day? And I have to plan what to feed all of us and then go drive somewhere and pick out/pay for/cart home/prepare all of these things that will do the feeding? YIKES!
As a mama who also works full time outside the home, I am often overwhelmed with the weight of my responsibilities, as so many of us are. But today I want to share two solutions I have found that allow me to spend less time preparing to feed my family and more time actually enjoying my family!
A couple Christmases ago, my husband gifted me an app called Paprika.
You all – this has become my MOST frequently used recipe/meal planning/shopping app. It even beats out Pinterest for me as a place to have easy access to all my recipes. I seriously don’t know what I did before I had it.
Let me take you on a little walk through this app so you can see what I mean.
One of my favorite things about Paprika is how easy it is to save recipes. It is compatible with many popular recipe sites, so usually all you have to do is tap once or twice and your recipe is saved. Even when I find a site that isn’t supported, it’s not difficult at all to save a recipe manually. Paprika has a built-in browser, so you can copy/paste a URL or just go directly to the site you want. Once you find the post with the recipe, just hit Save Recipe at the bottom, and it will more than likely auto-populate the fields for you. Then tap Create Recipe, and you’re done!
This app also creates its own shopping lists based on your recipes, which is a fantastic feature that I used all the time before I quit going to the grocery store (more on that later!). No more forgetting to write down that one ingredient! Inside a recipe, tap the little shopping cart icon, and a list of all the ingredients will pop up. I uncheck everything I know I have in the pantry already (and you can actually save a list of your pantry items too!), and then hit Add.
Boom, shopping list is done and organized by store section! You can customize the aisle too, if you need to.
You can also create weekly meal plans within the app. I don’t use this feature much anymore now that I have my paper planner, but it helps to see at a glance what meals I was thinking about making on a given week, and therefore what ingredients I should have on hand.
Paprika gives you the ability to sync your recipes, menu, and shopping list between devices, which means my husband can add to our list while I am at the grocery store if he happens to notice we are out of something. That, and he can see exactly where I am in the process of shopping (just dairy products to go, she’s almost done!).
We did have to purchase the app separately for iPad, unfortunately, but it was worth it to us (bigger screen while cooking vs. portability at the grocery store). If we wanted Paprika on Mac, that would be a separate purchase too.
Now I want to circle back to how I quit going grocery shopping.
Since the store with the lowest grocery prices around is directly across the street from where I work, it always made sense for me to do our shopping on the way home from work.
Typically we shop for 10-14 days worth of meals, so these are huge, overwhelming grocery trips. Spending less than an hour in this monstrous supermarket is absolutely impossible (I practically get my daily step count in just traipsing to the dairy section in the back!), so I have a hard time getting home before 5:30 or 6:00 on grocery days.
Then once I get home I have to actually MAKE something out of the groceries I just bought (isn’t it funny how we want to eat out immediately after purchasing a fridge full of ingredients?), which means I hardly get to see my little boy on shopping days, since he goes to bed between 6:30 and 7:00 every night. For a while I was shopping on Saturdays to avoid these kinds of hectic evenings, but I don’t enjoy spending my precious Saturdays fighting crowds at the supermarket, and since I didn’t want to drive all the way out to the cheaper store on the weekend, I was spending more on groceries too. Not ideal.
Then I heard that the discount superstore had begun offering store pickup, and I was intrigued. I figured that shopping on my couch in my jammies and then letting someone else load my carefully selected groceries into the back of my car was completely worth the extra $5. And then I learned that this service is FREE if you spend over $100, which we always end up doing anyway.
Um, someone else spends time picking out my groceries and I don’t even have to pay anything extra for it? SIGN ME UP!
In the Milwaukee area, the store I use is Woodman’s Food Market, but I imagine many stores in other areas offer a similar service, so be sure to search around wherever you are if this is something that interests you. Delivery is also an option here, and that may fit some families’ lifestyles better, but it is a little pricier than store pickup ($9.95).
It’s not a perfect system; sometimes I can’t find something in the database I know I’d be able to locate in store, or an item gets substituted with something I wouldn’t have selected myself, or they forget paper bags even though I specified I wanted them. But it’s been completely worth it to me.
Now every couple weeks I sit on my couch with Paprika open and decide what meals I want to make, then I pull up my online grocery order on the computer and load things into my cart. The next day, I swing by the giant, formerly-overwhelming store on my way home, and my grocery shopping is done.
We do still make the occasional quick stop at a smaller local chain for the things we constantly run out of (milk, bread, chocolate), but I have saved HOURS of time over the past few months I have been doing this, and I haven’t spent a dime more than I would have anyway.
How do YOU make your feeding-your-people life easier? Let me know in the comments!
(As a disclaimer, I am not receiving compensation of any kind for giving my opinions here. Neither of these companies knows I exist, which is a shame, since I tell people about them all the time.)
Melissa Harden is a full-time elementary school speech
language pathologist and mama to a little man who will be, unfathomably, two this year. Her kitchen is chronically messy and her best friends are those people for whom she doesn’t feel she needs to clean it even a little. Melissa loves reading, coffee, grammar, colorful pens, snuggling, essential oils, and snark. She spends way too much time on the internet but vows to change that someday.