Today I have Jennifer from Mumma Gumma guest posting! Make sure to give her a warm welcome and lots of comment love. She describes herself as blissfully riding waves in the sea of motherhood. She is the mom of precious baby Tommy, who turned 6 months old just last week. Definitely head over to her blog to find out more and check her out on Twitter too.
Grocery Shopping Magic: How to Be In and Out of the Grocery Store in Thirty Minutes or Less
Grocery shopping is not as much fun as it used to be. In my pre-baby life, I took my time, read labels, and was picky about produce. I also used to treat myself to my favorite cheese or get fresh salmon from the butcher. Now, I do my groceries with one hand because T is usually in the other.
I never go to the grocery without a list, a budget, and a meal plan. Thanks to these tools, I'm in and out of there within thirty minutes. Here are some of my magic tricks.
We keep a chalk board in our kitchen. It has three columns. 'This Week's Meals', 'What We Need', and 'What We Have'. Any time we run out of something, we write it down in the 'What we Need' column. Any time we have leftovers, we write it down in the 'What We Have'. The leftovers column is great for our house. Food always gets pushed around in our fridge so I like to know what I can eat for lunch without going digging. Less waste this way, too.
This doesn't have to be as complicated as it sounds. For the next two weeks, keep a pen and paper at the dinner table. Write down all the meals that you eat. You can also ask the family to participate by calling out their favorites or something they'd like to try. Before you know it, you have a long list of meal ideas. It makes meal planning much easier.
If you prefer something more elaborate, here is a list of meal planning and recipe links. http://orgjunkie.com/menu-plan-monday-guidelines/menu-planning-resources
In this economy, no one can afford to pay full price for groceries or fill their cart with impulse buys. Simply going to the grocery store with a list is an easy way to prevent unnecessary purchases. To prevent impulse buys, I always eat before I go to the grocery store. Going hungry easily leads to a cart full of chips and chocolate.
M and I set a weekly grocery budget. This does not include baby items/food or toiletries. We find that if we spend more than that allotted budget, we end up buying junk food. If you're not sure what your family's grocery budget should be, keep your grocery receipts for a month and see if you notice a pattern.
Mailers & Coupons
Every week I collect the grocery mailers that get delivered to my house. I sit down with a Sharpie marker and circle all the foods that we eat that are on sale. Then I take my list of meals and combine the two to make a meal plan for the week. From here, I start my grocery list.
Now, I wouldn't consider myself an extreme-coupon-type-person but I do like to collect coupons. Once I've made my grocery list, I check to see if I have any coupons that coincide with the weekly deals or items on my list.
Most grocery stores allow price matching. Price matching means that you can take your mailers to one store and get the sale price from another store. But you have to be organized. When I write out my grocery list I put the code 'PM' beside the item that needs to be price matched then I write a code for the grocery store. This way, when I get to the cashier, I don't feel frazzled to get the right item with the right mailer. I also write the code 'CPN' next to the items that have a coupon.
If I'm lucky, I can save an extra $10 to $20 off our bill from using coupons and price matching. Once in a while, I'll get a dirty look from a customer in line behind me or the cashier. But the joke's on them, I save money – they pay full price!
Off to the Grocery Store
Feed the Monsters
Figure out what time of the day your children are at their best. Take advantage and go to the grocery store with well rested and fed children. Talk to your kids about rewards and/or consequences before you leave. Bring snacks from home. Remember that a grocery store is a great place to teach your children about healthy choices and budgeting. Expect a few “Mommy! Can I have this?” or “Mommy, can I have that?” There's no harm in your child asking once or twice for a few 'treat' items. If they have trouble with the word 'no', reinforce the consequences you talked about before you left for the store.
Hit the grocery store first thing in the morning or after dinner. Weekends and dinner time are the busiest times for most grocery stores.
The Grand Finale
Ok, with my list, meal plan, price matches, and coupons in hand, I'm off to the grocery store. Like I said, these tools might take you a few extra minutes during the week, but will save you time, energy, and money at the grocery store.
A Few Extra Things to Note
Before you choose a check-out lane, watch the cashier. Does she chat with the customers? Does she scan slowly? Does she look happy? Young male cashiers tend to not take their job too seriously and don't care how many coupons you hand over or how much time you need from him. This is just my personal opinion.
Although most stores are great about matching the prices on the shelves with the check-out, it doesn't always work out that way. To avoid getting overcharged for items, watch the computer as your cashier scans item. Speak up if something doesn't look right.
I hope you enjoy some of my tricks – they may not quite be magical, but the time and energy they can save you, will be.