Whew.....I almost didn't make it. But it's only 6:02pm on Tuesday, so it still counts!
Here's a very basic tip. Make up a shopping list.
No, it's more than just your average, frantically-written out list right before you head out the door. Here's how ours has evolved:
I was an overwhelmed Momma to four babies, 5 and under. I need simplicity, yet wanted to be this wonderful wife and mother who made great, creative, tasty meals - hot and ready when my dh walked in the door.
The dream did not materialize.
Instead, we made up 2 weeks worth of basic, tasty, inexpensive meals. From those 2 weeks worth of meals, I made up a list of EVERYTHING we needed. Every Tbl. of butter, every pinch of salt, every 1/4 c. of shredded cheese.
Then I added in our basics - you know, stuff for the pantry: flour, sugar, coffee, butter, yeast, PB & J, etc.etc.etc. I don't have everything we ever use on here - but most things.
So this is what I do. At the start of each 2 week period, I print out one of these handy-dandy tools. I put it up on the fridge. Everytime I run out of something, or I begin to run low, I check the list. If it's on the list, I simply put a check mark by it. If it's not on the list, I add it. Before we head out the door, I simply grab this list off the fridge. No more freaking out right before we head to the store!
Ideally, we would simply shop every two weeks or so. In reality, it works out to be even less, what with left-overs, unexpected meals with friends, food left-over from a church meeting, etc. I simply make a quick walk-through the house right before I leave for the store to check on toiletries, cleaning supplies, diapers, house items, etc.
This process has made my life *so* much easier. I plan a week's worth of meals (from our 2 week list) on Sunday - then I just check this list each day to find out what we're having for supper. No last minute freak-outs, no missing ingredients.
And yes, we still make the occasional meal that isn't on the list. But for the most part, we stick to this list. Some may say it sounds stifling but in reality, it's quite freeing. I am so much more relaxed about meals now. Dh has approved the list, so I KNOW he'll be happy with whatever we're having that night.
Ok, so that's it. Just spend some initial time making up the master list, save it to your computer and print whenever you need it. Simple. Beautiful.