Monday Start-Up: Grocery Shopping for the Busy Professional

by Rachel Yeomans | September 19th, 2011   

Someone told me that the best time to stock up at Costco was the weekend after a major holiday, especially a BBQ holiday. The weekend after Labor Day, the weekend after the Fourth of July, etc. I then realized that the conversation of when to visit the grocery store on a regular basis has also been brought up on occasion. Some larger grocery chains are best to go to on early Tuesday (but not before noon because that’s when things start getting crazy). Some local markets are best to go to on Thursday mornings because that’s when they get their new shipments in. Other specialty food stores are known for weekday evenings. And then of course, there are your local food markets.

Woman at Grocery Store Monday Start Up: Grocery Shopping for the Busy Professional

For the busy professional, the best time to go to the grocery store may not be the best time for our schedule. We have a full workday, networking events, sometimes families to care for back home, etc. Some of us work from home part-time or full-time, so the flexibility of hopping in the car or on the train to go to the store is more feasible.

I feel fortunate that I live in an urban area and can rely on a grocery delivery service. They come once a month, and then for tween trips I go to a local market every other week or so. When I happen to not have food on hand to make a meal – again I’m fortunate just to cook for myself – I opt for the fall-back of ordering food in.

However what truly changed my grocery shopping habits admittedly was technology. I recently discovered an iPad app that has single-handedly organized my cooking regimen and eating habits. It was rated as one of the best-selling iPad apps and I of course downloaded it immediately as I need all the help I can get in the kitchen department. The app: How to Cook Everything, by cooking personality Mark Bittman. I admittedly did not know who Mark Bittman was until purchasing this app, and now I am amongst a large crowd who swear by his recipes, love his variations, and appreciate his simple recipes and style that seem to make everything I attempt to cook fool-proof (a feat indeed)!

Picture 45 Monday Start Up: Grocery Shopping for the Busy Professional

I receive a push notification once a week from the app on a new featured recipe, and I can save the ones I want to in the app’s Favorites. I export the ingredients into a grocery list of which I email to myself and then send to Evernote for my grocery list for the week as I’d rather ready my grocery list from my phone vs my iPad. (Yes it’s a bit clunky as it doesn’t export straight to Evernote, but the organization of the ingredients is such that I don’t mind so much – maybe they’ll add that functionality into a future release). Then once I’m in the kitchen cooking, I prop the iPad up on my counter with the recipe in view. I have the app set to stay lit while I’m cooking. Plus whenever there’s a time instruction (i.e. “boil for 5 minutes“, etc.), you can touch the time and a time clock pops up on the screen and starts counting down for you! Genius, I know. Due to this app, I have been known to make one mean steak au poivre.

This app taught me one thing that people have been advising us over-scheduled professionals for years – plan out your meals! For those who don’t have nor want an iPad, don’t worry as these recipes are available via books.

Now that Labor Day is behind us and we feel the touch of Fall coming on with whispers of the holidays, we are settling in a bit more and thinking about hot tea, soups and sweaters. If we are homing in more, are we also stocking up our pantries? With your crazy work schedules, what is your grocery shopping routine? And what are your tried and true tips for those out there who may not have a routine?

Perhaps we can turn the fall-back of ordering in into a special treat that we know of ahead of time. Let’s see if we can fit that into our schedules…or send it to our Evernote apps!


I struggle with this all the time. Both myself and my sig. other work full time jobs and are both actors by night and weekend, so needless to say, time for shopping is TIGHT. But recently I've been able to find a balance that seems to be working: 1- Every month or so stocking up a one of the big chain supermarkets that's open late (shopping at 10:30pm is one of my favorite times!). 2-stopping by the deli for meat & cheese when needed. 3- The Lincoln Square Farmer's Market is now open on Thursday nights, as well! I try to hit that up for all my fruits & veggies. When that fails- Trader Joe's has decent veggies.