Are you the one who does the grocery shopping in the household? Do you use a shopping list or do you wing it? Is it a task you love, or do you loath it and try to find excuses to do anything else?
Let’s be honest, it’s not one of the jobs I love to do.
I don’t mind driving to the supermarket and filling up my trolley. It doesn’t even bother me to have to load up the conveyor at the check-out. But when it comes to bagging, getting those bags into the car, bringing them home and having to put everything away, I find I really drag my feet.
It’s one of the necessary household chores that needs to be done with some regularity, no matter how badly you would prefer to do anything else! Here are some tips that I find help with the process.
The Shopping List
Make a List, Bring it With You and Stick To It When I head off to shop, if I don’t have a list clutched tightly in my fist, I forget something; it’s bad enough having to do the grocery shopping in the first place, without arriving home and to find you have forgotten something you really needed.
Update your Shopping List as You Go When you use the last of an item or you think of something you want to get, add it to the list there and then. Write it down: if you are like me, chances are you won’t remember it! Share that List with Your Family Being greeted by eager helpers who want to help you to unload the car when you arrive home is awesome. But when they start rooting through the bags and asking “Did you get popcorn?” or “Did you get hair gel?” well, I don’t like that so much. If you can have a list that everyone has access to (stuck up on the fridge or maybe one of those cool new apps) it means that there really is no excuse for those questions!
Keep a List of the Items You Like to Keep in Stock There are certain staples in every household: maybe its a certain breakfast cereal, a particular brand of tea, or to always have a stash of chocolate chips on hand for baking. In the event that you forget to add to your shopping list as you go, this can serve as a great tool to jog your memory when assembling your shopping list. It is also handy for keeping an eye on inventory. Weekly Schedule & Meal Planning If you have a busy week with lots of family activities, you may find that meal planning helps so that you can prepare ahead for those particularly manic days. You can keep one eye on your meal plan as you make your shopping list and make sure you have the necessary items on hand. Check on Special Offers Special offer items are often advertised online. Check these before you leave and you may be able to benefit from some savings.
Prepare For Your Return
Tidy your Kitchen This may seem silly and unrelated, but when you arrive in the door feeling a little on the tired side, laden down with bags and boxes, it will make things easier.
Clean Out Your Fridge/Freezer Because you are planning out your trip, it should be no surprise that if you are going to buy items for the fridge, you’ll need a space to put them. Also, you can double check what you have on hand so you only buy what you need.
Get Dinner Ready
If you’re shopping at a meal time, have it prepped and ready to go so that you can hit the ground running when you get home. This is a great time to have a meal in the slow cooker. If your shopping trip includes dinner, you can pack it separately at the checkout so that you can easily have what you need when you get home.
Make a Plan
Plan the shopping trip This is essential if you use multiple shops. If you are going to buy meat from a butcher shop and also swing by a supermarket, which store you visit first or whether you should bring a cooler to store the chilled items. If you need to visit a bakery, obviously, the earlier you get there the better.
Put Your Shopping Bags in the Car I get so mad when I realise if have filled a large trolley with goods and I have no bags with me to pack them into. This happens when I leave my bags at home, and it happens more often than I’d like to admit! (A note: in Ireland, grocery bags are not supplied gratis, so we bring our own heavy duty bags that won’t rip.)
Grab a Snack For The Car I know we aren’t supposed to reward ourselves with food, but I usually find that being surrounded by food in the store often makes me pop stuff into the trolley ‘for the way home’. By the time I am loading up my bags I am finding random ‘quick-eats’ that I’d be better off leaving behind. Instead, I bring an extra can of diet Coke and a granola bar and that is my snack for the return journey.
Get To It
Go Alone If you want to catch up with one of your girlfriends, grab a latte. Unnecessary chatter will slow you down and you won’t be able to concentrate properly. This goes for phone calls too! Do It Without The Kids I know it is not always possible but if it is an option for me, I always take it! I find that there are fewer surprises when you get to the check out. Also, I don’t have to divide my attention between the task at hand and arguing about why we really don’t need to bring home six packets of chocolate digestive biscuits.
Time of Year
This will of course be a huge consideration for the savvy shopper. Special offers, seasonal fruit and vegetables, holiday items: they change during the year. How we eat also changes throughout the year too (think salads in summer and stews in winter).
Living on a farm, there are certain times of the year, like lambing time, when I need to be on top of my game and properly stocked up, because I may not get to do a ‘big shop’ for over a month. Planning ahead is key, as is a properly stocked pantry. Another consideration worth mentioning is if you grow your own fruit and vegetables: come harvest time you’ll want to have a stash of preservation ingredients and jars on hand.
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I appreciate that I have made the idea of the ‘grocery shop’ a bit of an undertaking, but please remember that for me, I am trying to slot it into a busy schedule, between care of animals, school and extracurricular activities, running a home and running a farm. If I can get away with doing a grocery excursion every two, three or four weeks, I absolutely will!
I hope these tips will help you out when you are doing your next shopping expedition or maybe just help you to be a little better prepared. And if you have any nuggets of wisdom to pass on, please do share, I’d really love to hear how you juggle your busy life and make these everyday tasks easier!