Budget-Friendly in the Kitchen
As my husband and I were herding like sheep through the Costco aisles this past Memorial Day weekend, I realized that we were doing things wrong. So very, very wrong. We forgot our list at home. We came at the peak time. We were both cranky because we hadn’t had lunch (and we were NOT about to stand in yet another line for some Costco pizza). Worst of all, we brought the baby…during his naptime. Oh so wrong. Here are my helpful tips for avoiding situations just like this.
Ditch the Kids
Take them to grandma’s house, hire a sitter for an hour…whatever you have to do. Shopping with kids is like dragging cats through a fish market. If your children aren’t in school yet and you don’t have childcare, just make sure to bring them along when they’re well-rested and fed. It helps to let them pick out ONE special treat for themselves, and avoid the hectic afterschool hours if at all possible.
Make a List
Plan your meals ahead of time and make a shopping list based on what you need and what’s on sale. If you leave it to fate at the grocery store, you’re bound to spend a lot more money and end up wasting food that you don’t have a meal plan for. I personally use shopping list and organization apps like Cozi and ShopShop to keep my items (and my budget and time) under control. Maintaining a running list of things you need at home will also cut down on last-minute runs to the grocery store for that one critical item.
Don’t Shop Hungry
You’ve heard it a thousand times, and this old adage is definitely true. If you eat before shopping, you’ll be guided by your list and your budget through the grocery store as opposed to your growling stomach. If you can’t squeeze a meal in beforehand, pack some snacks in your purse such as dried fruit or nuts.
Avoid Peak Times
Back when I was in college and had all the time I wanted to myself, I loved going to 24-hour grocery stores at midnight. The stores were totally barren and I could freely roam the aisles at my leisure. That’s not entirely practical now that I have kids, but I still make a point to avoid the crowds. Try not to shop between 8 and 10am (when moms have just dropped kids off at school and are out running errands) or 2-7pm (post-school pickup time and after work).
Go Where You Know
While it may be tempting to check out every single sales flyer and stop at ten different grocery stores to save as much money, as possible this can end up being a huge time-suck. I pick two grocery stores per week, typically ones that I’m familiar with, and compare their sales flyers to get the best deals on stuff I need. That way, I never wind up frustrated and wandering through unfamiliar grocery stores looking for half-price Nilla wafers. Your budget is important, but keep your time in mind as well.
That’s it! Next shopping trip, try flying solo, well-fed with a list at stores you know. You’ll be surprised how much time you can save.