6 Tips for Cutting Down Trips to the Grocery Store

Maria Lin Kim, Unsplash
Maria Lin Kim, Unsplash

Unless you’re willing to eat takeout for every meal, regular trips to the grocery store are necessary. You may not be able to avoid them, but you can reduce the number of supermarket trips you take by planning ahead and building smarter shopping habits. That way, you can spend less time navigating crowded aisles and spend more time enjoying your quiet dinner in. We spoke with Heather Ramsdell, editorial director for The Spruce Eats, about the best ways to optimize your grocery runs.

1. Shop from your pantry first.

If your pantry is well-stocked, consider waiting a while before spending money on perishables. Many pantry items—like pasta, rice, beans, and canned vegetables—make hearty and nutritious meals. These foods are especially good to have on hand at the end of the week when you’re running low on fresh meat and produce. “Before you go shopping, understand the food you already have and when it needs to be eaten.” Ramsdell tells Mental Floss. “This sounds so boring and time-consuming but it’s worth it.”

2. Memorize recipes that use forgotten foods.

The sad head of lettuce in the back of your fridge or the old loaf of your bread on your counter can be transformed into a comforting meal with the right recipe. Memorize a few recipes and figuring out what to do with groceries that are about to expire becomes a lot less stressful. “Some recipes are made to use up leftovers and foods about to turn," Ramsdell says. "Soup, frittatas, salads, all-in-one pastas, and savory bread puddings are delicious ways to eat up the odd carrot, mildly wilted greens, and nearly stale bread hanging out in your kitchen.”

3. Optimize your meal rotation.

Heading to the supermarket without a plan leads to food waste. By cooking a bunch of new recipes that require different sets of ingredients each week, you’ll end up with bags of unfinished groceries cluttering your fridge. A smart alternative is choosing a few, reliable meals that make good use of whatever’s in your kitchen. “Instead of making a dozen dishes a month from a number of cuisines, focus on a few, perfect them, then create a rotation that makes sense over time,” Ramsdell says. “You can vary spices or toppings so that you don’t get bored.”

4. Aim for two-thirds pantry items and one-third fresh.

Buying mostly nonperishables means you won’t be in such a rush to cook your groceries after you bring them home. To make sure the perishable items in a grocery haul (ideally one-third of it) do get eaten, Ramsdell uses this guideline: “Center your meals around the longest lasting foods in your pantry, like rice, cornmeal, tortillas, pasta and dried beans, hard cheeses or frozen foods. Then add fresh foods as flavorings or side dishes for color, freshness and variety. Learn which foods last longest. Eat the fresh meat, fish, and more fleeting veggies and fruits like peaches, melons, tomatoes, and berries soon after your trip. Oatmeal is great with fresh fruit. Rice lasts for a long time. Make rice bowls using your perishable goodies.”

5. Take advantage of your freezer.

Your kitchen inventory shouldn’t just be stored in the fridge and pantry. According to Ramsdell, your freezer is an invaluable resource. “Frozen food is there for you,” she says. “Frozen vegetables require less prep and are often more nutritious than fresh. They are also sometimes more affordable.” Even if you buy groceries fresh, sticking food in the freezer before it hits its expiration date is an easy way to extend its shelf life.

6. Experiment with meal-planning apps.

Even equipped with the advice above, buying two-weeks-worth of groceries at once can feel overwhelming. If you’re still plagued by meal-planning stress, don’t hesitate to use an app for guidance. Ramsdell recommends a few options: “There are so many out there for every kind of person. Are you a ‘Type A’ meal prepper? Use MealPreppro. Are you cooking on a budget? Try Meal Board. Want to make sure that you don’t toss a morsel of food in the trash? Big Oven is great for suggestions on how to use leftovers.”

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

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The 20 Most Valuable Companies in the World

The Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Laurenz Heymann, Unsplash

It seems like the most valuable companies should be those whose products and services we use on a near-daily basis. And according to Forbes’s most recent list, they are: The top five highest-valued brands in the world are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook.

The annual study is based on a complex mixture of metrics that cover revenue and earnings, tax rates, price-to-earnings ratios, and capital employed. Since the data is from 2017 to 2019, the list doesn’t reflect how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the companies in question. That said, it does reflect what many have long assumed: that Big Tech is running laps around all the other industries. The top five are all considered technology companies, as are four others in the top 20 (Samsung, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle). Other companies aren’t in the technology category, but they own lucrative offshoots that are. Disney, in seventh place with an estimated value of $61.3 billion, falls under the “leisure” umbrella—but Disney+ itself would likely be marked “technology.” (Netflix is.)

The list isn’t completely devoid of time-tested classics that don’t involve software or hardware. Coca-Cola edged out Disney by about $3 billion to take sixth place; Toyota placed 11th with a brand value of $41.5 billion; and McDonald’s just cracked the top 10 with $46.1 billion. Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Walmart all also made the top 20.

Just because a brand ranked high on this year’s list doesn’t necessarily mean it’s doing well (and vice versa). Facebook, for example, suffered a 21-percent decrease in brand value compared to Forbes’ 2019 list—the largest loss of all 200 companies included in the study. Netflix’s brand value, on the other hand, jumped a staggering 72 percent from 2019 to 2020. With an estimated $26.7 billion value, it still missed the top 20 by six spots.

See Forbes’s top 20 below, and check out the full list here.

  1. Apple // $241.2 billion
  1. Google // $207.5 billion
  1. Microsoft // $162.9 billion
  1. Amazon // $135.4 billion
  1. Facebook // $70.3 billion
  1. Coca-Cola // $64.4 billion
  1. Disney // $61.3 billion
  1. Samsung // $50.4 billion
  1. Louis Vuitton // $47.2 billion
  1. McDonald’s // $46.1 billion
  1. Toyota // $41.5 billion
  1. Intel // $39.5 billion
  1. Nike // $39.1 billion
  1. AT&T // $37.3 billion
  1. Cisco // $36 billion
  1. Oracle // $35.7 billion
  1. Verizon // $32.3 billion
  1. Visa // $31.8 billion
  1. Walmart // $29.5 billion
  1. GE // $29.5 billion

[h/t Forbes]