The Lazy Way to Grocery Shop without a List and Still Get What You Need

I’m excited to share this guest post written by Tiffany of Eat at Home today.  I’m also excited to begin using her new meal-planning service! I love how practical and realistic she is, and her recipes always look so good! 

Do you sometimes feel too lazy to make a meal plan and grocery list?

Yep. Me too.

Even if you don’t feel lazy, sometimes you’re so busy and rushed there isn’t time to plan. Even though your head tells you that planning saves time, it’s hard to convince yourself to spend time to save time.

The good news is there are a few tricks you can use to hit the store without a list and still come home with enough groceries to get you through the week.

1. Shop at the store most familiar to you. This isn’t the time to try out a new store or one that you don’t go to often. By shopping in a familiar store, you’ll be prompted on what to buy by how the aisles are laid out and seeing the items you usually pick up in a familiar setting.

2. Think of a few common, easy meals that your family likes. Pick up the items to make those dinners. Things like tacos, spaghetti or ravioli, chicken legs etc.

3. Grab what your family eats for breakfast. Whether it’s bagels, frozen waffles or cereal make sure it goes in your cart. Let your mind be prompted for breakfast when you’re in the freezer section or cereal aisle.

4. Shop for lunches. If you pack lunches, make sure you get the items you need for making them.

5. Buy the amount of milk, eggs and butter you normally use in a week.

6. Weave through all the center aisles of the store and pick up anything you’ll need for the meals you thought of earlier. Be sure to grab things like diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Those common ingredients can be used in a lot of different meals and they store for a long time. So even if you aren’t sure you need them, grab some. You’ll be glad later.

7. In the produce aisle, buy fruit and veggies your family likes for snacks. I usually buy a bag of apples and a bunch of bananas. I grab other fruits that are in season or on sale. Don’t forget veggies for side dishes (if you didn’t get those in the frozen section) and salad fixings.

You’ll leave the store with a cart full of groceries and a couple of meal ideas. Jot them down as soon as you can, so you won’t forget your ideas. I call that reverse meal planning.

One important point – you don’t want to do this every week. Eventually, the lack of planning will catch up with you. It will blow your budget to shop like this often. It really is best to have a meal plan and a grocery list to make that plan work.

If you don’t like to plan menus or you just don’t have time, I’ve got a solution for you – Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plan Service. Each week you’ll have two meal plans emailed to you.

  • All Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Traditional Meal Plan

Each plan has 6 dinners and 1 dessert. It comes with a grocery list and printable recipes. There are also tips on cooking, freezing extras for future meals and timing things so you can fit the meals to your schedule.

Choose which plan to print for the week and head to the store. At just $4 per month, it’s a great way to save time on meal planning.

See, you can be lazy and organized too.

Tiffany King has been married 25 years and is mom to 4 kids, from college age to elementary. You can find her sharing easy recipes, cooking tips and Weekly Meal Plans at Eat at Home.



  1. 1

    This is sooo me! Great post. 🙂

  2. 2
    unmowngrass says:

    The reason my Mum never made a meal plan is, as she says, “suppose you plan to do chicken, and then you get to the shop and pork chops are on sale? Buy the pork chops and use them, and get the chicken next week.” I couldn’t do it like that, but glad it works for her! [These days, it’s quite easy to find the sales online beforehand, if you have the time for it.]

    • 3

      I agree with this (yes, I know it was posted a few months ago) but – I still buy stuff that’s on offer that I know I use on a regular basis – if lamb, chicken / turkey or pork / soy sauce / cheese are on offer I’ll buy them, even if they’re not on the meal plan – that way they’re in the freezer / pantry / fridge for when the meal plan does call for them. On occasion my weekly shop is more expensive than normal, but I tend to find that it evens out. Most weeks I buy something I don’t need, but don’t have to buy something I do need. Hope that helps someone out there.

  3. 4

    We have a basket in the kitchen we use to put labels of stuff we run out of. When I leave to go to the store, I take a pic – it works great!

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