As a young woman still living at home, I used to grocery shop for my mom. Then grocery shopping was fun and easy. I simply drove to the store Mom directed me to, bought the items on her list (plus a few for myself—she said it was OK!), paid for the groceries with her credit card and then took them home and put them in the fridge. Mom would use them to make great meals for the fam.
Then I got married and switched from Mom’s credit card to my credit card. All of a sudden, it got much more complicated. How often do I need to go to the store? What quantities should I buy? Which stores offer the best deals, the most quality food? How do I manage this on a budget?
I still haven’t found that magic list of rules, but the following suggestions have helped me become a smarter shopper:
Go with a list.
Critical for me. When I don’t have a list I end up wandering the store buying things I already have while forgetting the things that I truly need. No good!
Don’t go when you are hungry.
Someone suggested this with me in mind. I lose my ability to think clearly when I’m in the grocery store hungry. Of course I need more Cheetos, and you can’t eat Cheetos without Cherry Coke. I don’t need cereal for breakfast—where are my favorite chocolate donut holes? Need I go on?
Establish a pattern.
Find a routine that serves you and your family’s needs most effectively. Some shop weekly and others monthly. I’m a weekly girl myself, but I have a very shopping-savvy friend who finds monthly shopping (with weekly visits for milk) works best for her.
Do Internet research.
I ran into my friend Jenni at the store last week and she told me that before she heads out to shop she does a quick Internet search of the area stores to find the best sales. This helps her to decide which store she will go to that week.
Tailor a list to your store.
One reader wrote in with a great tip. She created a grocery list on her computer that follows the traffic pattern of her local grocery store. She keeps a copy on her fridge, and when it comes time to plan her meals, a quick walk through the list is all that’s needed to ensure she purchases the necessary ingredients. This maximizes her time in both the planning and the shopping.
We here at girltalk hardly fit the category of “grocery-shopping experts.” These suggestions are just to get you started. We hope they inspire you to fine-tune your grocery shopping technique. Consider doing a google search for more grocery shopping tips. Even better, consider your network of relationships and corner a friend who seems to have this grocery shopping thing down.
Grocery shopping may require time, thought, and skill. But by learning from others we can master this crucial task in order to prepare memorable meals for our family!