Your Ultimate How-To Guide To The Scary Act of Grocery Shopping Alone

Here at Zenzy we’re always focused on asking the important questions- what can we say, we’re dedicated to journalism. We want to answer the questions that you don’t want to ask your mom or your friends, so we ask the questions and get the answers from the experts. This includes the questions that leave you thinking “is it just me?”. It’s not just you. It never was.

Grocery shopping alone for your first time ever is a bizarre experience. There, we said it (important journalism, see). You thought you were going to have all this freedom and then suddenly you’re roaming the aisles with a box of crackers and a tub of ice cream and no real food to feed yourself and you’re wondering how did I get here? How did my parents feed me all these years?

Or, you finally got your driver’s license (!!!) and you thought your days were going to be filled with joyrides from Starbucks to your friend’s house and back but instead you suddenly find yourself doing errands for your mom all the time? She gives you a grocery list and there you are- roaming the halls again, looking for chickpeas, staring at a wall of garbanzo beans, not knowing they’re the same thing (true story).



Little did you know that approaching the grocery store takes skill and strategy (and reusable bags and a swipe of Glossier’s balm dotcom)- whether you’re shopping for your family or find yourself at college responsible for feeding yourself for the first time. If you thought grocery shopping was as simple as strolling in and strolling out with a tub of plant-based ice cream… Well, that’s what we thought too and we were wrong.

We talked to Emily Schildt, founder of Pop Up Grocer and basically the expert in all things groceries and health about how to tactically approach shopping and emerge with not only healthy foods but also potentially a new BF/GF. She gave us the low-down on an easy Guide to Grocery Shopping. You’ll never confuse chickpeas and garbanzo beans again.


Credit: Pop Up Grocer // Anna Beeke 

Emily’s Guide to Grocery Shopping


Create Your Shopping List in Advance

Don’t think you can just run into the grocery store and figure out what you want on the fly. Emily knows that this is how you end up walking around with cheese and nothing else. Instead, you need to go in armed and ready with a detailed list of all the things you’ll need for the week ahead. But how do you plan said list? Read on, friends.


Base Your Shopping List On 2-3 Meals You Want That Week

Yes, you need to think about what you want to eat… In advance. And no, you cannot survive on granola bars alone. Emily suggests planning proper meals (even if it’s just salads and rice bowls- we do what we can), and then think about what ingredients each one needs. Need an easy meal idea to get you started? Emily loves a healthy curry chicken salad, so add greek yogurt, chicken, celery, grapes, curry powder and walnuts to your list!


Organize Your Shopping List By Aisle

Emily admits that this might be a little Type-A, but imagine how professional you’ll feel gliding through the grocery store one aisle at a time, filling your cart with everything you need? Who needs parents???


It’s Always a Good Idea to Dress Up

Throw on a cute outfit and a swipe of Glossier’s Balm Dotcom (told you it would come in handy)! Because what could be cuter than meeting your new crush as you reach for the last, same bottle of nut milk?


Spend Your Time in The Outer Aisles

“Always start on the outer rim of the grocery store and spend most of your time here- that’s where you find fresh produce, meats + fish, and dairy products, the center of the store is largely a trap. A funny thing for me to say, really, as Pop Up Grocer is nearly center store only.” [Laughs]. But Emily, like us, is focused on the importance of whole foods, and is setting out to reimagine the center store with snack foods that are still made of real food. Regardless, she recognizes that health-ified processed foods should only make up a small portion of your diet, and “the healthiest aisles in the center are going to be those with your dry goods like pasta, rice, and bulk nuts, plus sauces, spices and canned beans.”


+ A Zenzy Pro-Tip:

Bring reusable bags! We’re always out here trying to save the planet.


Credit: Emily Schildt // Daniela Spector

To spare us absolutely any need for creativity, Emily also gave us her ideal grocery shopping list. So before you head out on your grocery shopping adventure, grab this list (and then organize it by aisle, duh).


Emily’s Ideal Grocery List


The Essentials:

  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Nut Butter
  • Spices (Ie. Cumin & Cinnamon!)


The Layers:

  • Proteins (Ie. Eggs, Canned Tuna, A Rotisserie Chicken, etc.)
  • Yogurt (Greek Yogurt or Non-Dairy is great!)
  • Leafy Greens (We all love a good salad)
  • Fruits (Whatever your heart desires!)
  • One sauce or jam (Whichever gets you excited)


The Treats:

  • Round your cart out with some fun snack items and desserts (very necessary)


Looking for somewhere to do your grocery shopping? Why not check out Pop-Up Grocer? Ok, true, we can’t exactly go to the grocery store right now, but you can try their The Pop Up Grocer Box which is filled with all those healthy and yummy center-aisle snacks we talked about. Aka the things we need to survive quarantine- plus 10% of proceeds are going to Feeding America, which is a great bonus.


Main Image Credit: Pop Up Grocer // Heidi Bridge
Zenzy was not sponsored and will not receive any commission from this article!

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