Step Two to Streamline Dinnertime: Purchase with a Purpose

Have you ever gone into a grocery store and just wandered around, randomly tossing food in your cart and yet have no clue what you are going to do with it? We usually toss staples like bread, milk or eggs into our cart, which is fine because we usually need them, but how do you know what else you need? Are you trying to create meal ideas as you roll your cart up and down the aisles?  Do you ever put things in your cart and later have no idea why you bought it, or have you ever started making dinner and you are missing that one key ingredient?

By following the first step to streamline dinnertime, which is planning your meals, you can now purchase with a purpose. You can conquer grocery store trips when you purchase exactly what you need, ultimately saving time and money, both hot commodities for families.  To begin your list, simply take your one or two of your menu cards and make your grocery list based on what is on the menu for the week.

For example, if one of the meals is spaghetti, think about what you need to make that dinner. If you already have a lot of noodles on hand, no need to put noodles on the list, however, if you need tomato sauce, add that item to your list.  Work systematically through each meal, adding the necessary items to your list.   This is best done when you are at home, and you can take inventory of your current supplies.

The next things to add to your grocery list after reviewing each meal on your menu card, are the other items that you pair with the main theme of each meal.  For example, if you like to pair spaghetti with salad, you will need to add salad items to your list. You may need to add a variety of vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned), to your list as well, so you have an ample supply to choose from for every dinner. And yes, I did say canned, as it is preferable to eat canned vegetables rather than not eating vegetables at all, but fresh and frozen are preferable.

Now that you have added all necessary items to your grocery list for dinner, continue to expand your list with necessary breakfast and lunch items as well as staples.  You can also take advantage of ordering groceries online if you have not looked into this option for your family. It is a viable time-saving option where you can place your order online and someone else does the shopping for you. You simply arrive at a scheduled time, pay your bill and the groceries are loaded in your car!   Streamlining dinnertime starts with planning what to have for dinner and then making sure you have the supplies on hand to do just that!

Tracy Owens, owner of Triangle Nutrition Therapy, is a board-certified sports dietician and clinical dietician. She is the UNC-Greensboro sports dietician and also works with the athletes of Triangle Volleyball Club. She has 29-plus years of experience and develops customized nutrition solutions that are simple and easy to follow. Learn more about Tracy at

Categories: Fit Family