I have a confession. As crazy as it may sound, I love to go grocery shopping. It’s a weekly ritual that I make a point of finding time for, because healthy food and eating are a rich part of my life. I truly enjoy cooking at home and then sitting down for a meal with my husband or friends as often as possible.

For many of us, though, grocery shopping can be stressful or burdensome. When is there time to go to the store? What should you buy? Should you plan ahead?

To minimize stress, I suggest introducing a shopping ritual into your week. Not sure how to make that happen? Here are a few strategies that have worked for me:

Mark your calendar. Sunday late afternoon is my typical shopping time. Occasionally something will force me to change my plans, but I try to seal off this time slot as I would any other commitment.

Make a list; get creative! My ritual begins at the kitchen bar, where I sit down with pen and paper to write my grocery list. I pull out recent issues of food magazines, a few favorite cookbooks, even my laptop.

I start with magazines to see the latest recipes around what’s in season; anything that takes 30 minutes or less gets my immediate attention. I mark favorites with a sticky note. If I don’t find enough recipes for the week, I’ll open up some of my go-to cookbooks for a few more options. My laptop comes in handy, too, particularly when I have a certain food I need to cook up—like those tomatoes that are starting to look a little too ripe—so I visit favorite food websites for recipe
ideas around that ingredient and bookmark them.

Then I scan the various recipe ingredients, compare to what I have in my fridge and pantry, and write up a list of what I need.

Know your route. At the store, I have a particular route of aisles I follow each time. It’s all part of the ritual. As I pick up items and check them off my list, I often detour toward products I might not necessarily need for a recipe but have heard or read about and have been curious to try. Sometimes they make it into my cart.

After I return home and unload everything, one of the most gratifying parts of my ritual is realizing that I now have my own “restaurant” for the week with a full kitchen and a delicious menu of options to prepare.

If you don’t have a shopping ritual, I encourage you to give it a try. It may end up being something you look forward to week after week. And what could be better than cooking up healthy, delicious meals and sharing them with the ones you love?

Enjoy creating your own healthy rituals!