Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grocery Shopping 101

Grocery is the bane of some people's existence.

Nothing can seem more agonizing than loading into the car and driving to the store, attempting to locate the one cart in a sea of 57 that does not have a squeaky wheel (or a television), finding needed items, saying "No" approximately 2,251 times if shopping with children, uttering a silent prayer that the bakery has not run out of free cookies for children, purchasing groceries, racing home before the ice cream melts, and then realizing upon unloading all the goods that you forgot to buy three of your most needed items.

Due to rising food costs and the desire to not spend so much time (and money) at the grocery store and in desperate hope to save my sanity for at least a few more years, I have recently revised my whole grocery shopping method. Here are my new shopping strategies:

1. I grocery shop every two weeks, ALONE, on a Saturday morning before the stores become too busy. Shopping every two weeks prevents multiple trips to the store, which in turn prevents excess spending (research has shown that 6 out of 10 purchases made while grocery shopping are impulse buys). Shopping alone saves my sanity. Shopping early on Saturday morning is the only time when I can go alone and not have to go in the evening or during busy shopping times.

2. I write out our meal plans two weeks at a time and then construct a detailed grocery list from these plans. Making a meal plan for each week prevents that 5:30 pm panic of knowing the family has to eat but have not a clue as to what you are going to feed them other than a few packets of leftover ketchup and some dry cereal.

3. As mentioned in number 2, I make a detailed grocery list. This list is divided by sections of the store. I write the list in black ink, but take a pink pen to cross off items as I toss them in the cart. This change of color in ink prevents me from "losing" items on my list and never purchasing them. Again my sanity is saved by not having to experience the extreme frustration of arriving home with 72 grocery items and realizing that bread, milk, and apple juice are not among the stash.

4. I take my "tools" with me at all times. They are:
A clipboard to hold my grocery list.
This keeps my list nice and smooth during shopping and can be referred to easily.

The trusty pink pen to cross off items in my basket


Although I am not a crazed coupon clipper, I do manage to save about $15-20 every trip with coupons. Also, I rarely stock up on items simply because I have a coupon. I only clip and use coupons for things I normally purchase.

Target reusable grocery bags.

If you are still relying on plastic bags every trip you make to the store, you need to get to Target today and scoop some of these reusable bags up. They hold much more than any plastic bag ever dreamed of holding and they are reducing the amount of waste our country produces (If you travel abroad, you will quickly realize other countries do not use plastic bags as extensively as we do here in the United States). I *heart* these bags and currently own four of them.


Did I mention that I shop early in the morning? Well, I need me some coffee to navigate the aisles of the grocery store at such an hour. Also, I bring my own coffee from home and resist the temptation to pay $4.25 for a cup of coffee at the over-priced coffee house.

5. I unload the groceries (with the help of my family...even Evelyn can help take diapers to her room) immediately upon arriving home and put things in their correct location. This prevents the fridge or pantry from becoming out-of-control. Snacks (such as fruit snacks and raisins) that come in individual packages are immediately taken out of their main box and placed in our snack basket that resides in the pantry. Items such as flour, sugar, coffee, etc. are also removed from their original packages and placed in air-tight containers. My tools are put away until my next trip and we have the rest of the Saturday to spend together as a family.

Overall this takes me about 2.5 to 3 hours from start to finish. However, it is done and I do not have to think about groceries, the store, or my sanity for another 14 days (or more).

Works for Me!

For other Works for Me! tips, head over to Shannon's at Rocks in My Dryer.


Paige said...

I bought the reusable bags from Kroger, and every time I REMEMBER to bring them in I get .05 off for each bag. I love your organization! I shop once a week with a menu, lately with the kids but when I can...I love to go alone.

Gina said...

I love the reusable bags too! You can fit way more in them than the plastic ones and they are far more sturdy as well.

Your shopping habits sound like mine, only I don't have a clipboard. Great idea!

Robin said...

Great tips!

I might try the early morning idea...I usually go one night during the week, but as the days get shorter and colder, I know it will be harder to leave the house after 7 pm. :)

Amy said...

we love the target reusable bag (I bought it after you introduced it in an earlier post)! I only have one, but I keep it neatly folded in my diaper bag at all times. I use it everywhere! (I have others from other stores that we use for our big grocery trips). We've not used plastic bags for a while now (though we pick up the occasional one or two for reuse as bathroom trash liners) Great post!

Mallory said...

Great ideas! I'm a morning person so that's the best time for me too. But I would definitely need coffee to be a part of my tools as well! The biggest thing for me is not going when I'm hungry. That was one thing in the list of ways to make grocery shopping more peaceful that we talked about in our blog today too.
Where Families Connect

kelly said...

Fabulous ideas~ thanks for sharing! It just dawned on me that I still need to create my home organization binder, so I will be re-visiting that post of yours VERY soon.......

Jennifer Reinsch said...

I hadn't thought about the clipboard. That's a good idea. Generally, I invariably poke a hole or two or fourteen in my list as I try to mark off my items.

On another topic, have you seen the new show "Whatever, Martha"? It's Martha Stewart's daughter and one of her friends offering a running commentary on segments of Martha's show. While they are quite caustic, it is still somewhat funny. For example, the most recent show had them chiding Martha about whittling and sandpapering her smores sticks when all normal people simply pick up a stick, dust it off, and stick a marshmallow on it.

GPaty said...

Love this post...but sometimes, I just have to laugh sweet friend, because it makes me realize just HOW MUCH of a free-spirit I am. I tell myself that I don't fly by the seat of my pants...but in actuality, I really do. Your organizational skills are something to be proud of! I admire and love you for them! But the thought of implementing them in my own life, it makes me start to break out in hives. :) Keep inspiring us (me)..maybe as I get older, I will get "wiser".
By the way, in response to your question on my blog..No, I do not normally drive our Camry. I drive the Suburban so that I can haul all three little ones around. However, when I do get the luxury of being alone, I often take the Camry. Sometimes a little less mommy-ness does wonders for me. :)

Erika said...

I too go to the groc alone! It's impossible with Steven much less Silas! :) You've inspired me to try to make a weekly menu. We'll see how that goes. I have a pack of Envirosax that I use for shopping to eliminate the use for plastic bags. Oh, your shopping list made me smile. I too have used a similar method of crossing out items--I used a highlighter. However, the tech geek in me has emerged once again and I use a shopping list on my iPhone that divides my products into categories and stores. I can cross items off as I go. It is much easier for me to keep up with, and is with me at all times!