Imagine for a moment your last grocery trip. Was it laser-focused in food gathering, or did your stomach and eyes get the better of impulse shopping? For most of us, grocery shopping is the most time consuming and last place we want to be errand, and what worse, it’s the time of the year when things become more difficult in food planning and preparation. We are getting into the “just dropped by” and family gatherings that stockpile our pantries and refrigerators. Keeping the essentials becomes a marathon. Shopping my be unavoidable, but by keeping a few simple tips on how to better plan the upcoming season, we may just make that living simply mantra something that is put into practice this year. OH… there is always hope!
Measure twice, cut once.
In other words, plan and prepare wisely. Begin the season planning what was successful in last year’s repertory and what new recipes you want to try this year. Measure twice…really plan with a realistic eye what is truly needed and don’t get caught up in the perfection mood. Keep a grocery list in view and train yourself to use it as one item goes out, it gets written on the list. That’s a great way to avoid the last minute rush for more milk.
Organize your list by aisle.
Face it, Madison Avenue knows us better than we do. They know where to place foods that cost more and to get you to buy more. Don’t succumb to this trick. Put a little energy into finding out how your store is laid out and this can save you a ton of time and money.
Think week not day.
Figure out the week’s worth of menus and begin your buying of nonperishable foods for the whole week, then buy a few days worth of perishable items. Fresh is always best, but going to the store everyday is unnecessary and a big time and wallet waster. Keep you menus simple and save new recipes for the weekend when other members can join in.
Some stores deli departments will put your order together before you arrive. OK now your talking 15-20 minutes of free time. Need I say more?
Time is not on your side.
Know when to shop. Early riser and late night shoppers are rewarded with smaller crowds and shorter checkout lines. Weekdays between 5-7PM are max-capacity times.
Check it out!
It does matter how you unload. Empty your cart either from heaviest to lightest items or from indestructible to fragile. You or your packer will have a better shot of getting your items home in good condition if loaded this way. Try to keep all perishable or refrigerated items in one bag or two. Unload these items first. The obvious is not always so.
Last but most importantly…go it alone!
If at all possible, don’t bring the kids. They keep us distracted, have wish lists a big as they are, and complicate all the unloading and getting in and out. If you MUST bring them, give specific tasks such as choosing that night’s vegetable etc.
High tech tools to make this even better!
Try a free Smartphone app called Grocery iQ to manage your list. You can even take a picture of the bar code with your camera and instantly add the item to your list. The app stores previously purchased items to help you make the next list. You can create different lists for different stores. Visit www.groceryiq.com
Many grocery stores are now using Twitter and Facebook to alert customers to specials and discounts. They may also offer specialized apps to help make shopping and saving easier. Check the stores home page for starters.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving…shopping stress free!
Eileen Koff CPO