The 10-Minute Task You Should Do Before You Go to the Grocery Store

The 10-Minute Task You Should Do Before You Go to the Grocery Store

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

In my house, we go to the grocery store about once a week. Sometimes we can stretch it to eight or nine days, if we have lots of food in the freezer, but the general routine is to go on Monday so we have a week of healthy foods ready to go. And while it's tempting to just run out the door to the store, there's one 10-minute task that should really be done before you go to the grocery store: organizing your fridge and pantry.

Just give the shelves a quick reordering. Take note of what you have and what needs to be replaced. And make sure stuff is where it belongs, clearing out things that have gone bad as you go. There are three main reasons why this is so important.

1. It's a good way to take stock of what you have and need.

When I organize my fridge, it gives me a chance to take stock of what's in there. Sometimes I discover that I have more of something than I realized, and don't need to buy it that week. Other times I learn that I'm out of an important staple. I shuffle things around and see if there's anything that needs to be consumed ASAP so it doesn't go bad, or if I have all the fixings for a favorite meal if I just get one more thing.

Same thing with the pantry: It's easy to get to the grocery store and think you're out of something, then come home and realize already have two of them, because last week you thought you were out, too, and it's still in your head. That has happened to us with random things like brown sugar and canned tomatoes. Taking a few minutes to do inventory in the pantry keeps me from spending more than I need, stocking up on stuff we won't get through, cluttering up the pantry, and wasting food. It's just good practice.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

2. It might spark some ideas.

Often, once I've organized my refrigerator and pantry, I've sparked a few ideas of what I can make for the week, and what I haven't made in a while that everyone loves. That can of mustard powder might have gone unnoticed, but seeing it might remind you that your family loves your egg and potato hash brown casserole!

3. It makes room for the new stuff.

If your fridge is full of week-old leftovers that aren't going to get eaten, not only is that a shame, but it's also taking up room for the new stuff that's about to get home and needs to be put away. If you make room in your fridge or freezer, you won't struggle to get stuff to fit comfortably.

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