By Stephanine Vuolo, TLC
Deciding what to make for dinner and going shopping for fresh ingredients regularly used to be a luxury. Now I find it to be a chore, as the less time I spend doing errands the the happier I am. After having my daughter, I created a whole new system in our household to save time and to create a more efficient process around grocery shopping.
I typically only go to the grocery store once a month. Yes, once a month. I find that not only does this save me valuable time, I also save money by having a solid list to guide me. I have the added incentive that our local coop market offers a 10% discount on one shopping trip per month, so I am sure to stock up on everything we'll use.
Here are four of my best time-saving grocery shopping tips:
1. Create a master grocery list. Before your next shopping trip, make an electronic shopping list that you can save and add to each time you shop. That way you have a running list of the items you usually buy. My worksheet document is organized by aisle (roughly) as well as the quantity I need to buy. I print a few copies of the list to keep in my kitchen. As I run out of items, I just make a note on the printed copy. I keep this together with my coupons and reusable bags so everything is ready to go to the store with me.
2. Always buy a backup. I don't have the storage space in my house for giant warehouse quantities of the basics like trash bags and toilet paper. However, I always buy at least one backup item of my shelf stable pantry staples, such as sunflower seed butter and walnut oil. That way I don't need to rush out to the store when I run out of what's in use. Having a backup also keeps my pantry well stocked so I have all the items I need to pull healthy recipes together, often at the last minute.
3. Utilize your farmer's market. One of our family's favorite activities is regularly going to the farmers' market. We also receive a Community Supported Agriculture Box (CSA) on a weekly basis. Through our CSA program, we receive a large box of fresh, mostly local, organic produce direct from the farm to our door. This cuts down on last-minute trips to the store for perishable items and keeps us stocked with lots of healthy choices at all times.
4. Find a quiet time to hit the store. Not only can I find the items on my list more easily when the store is empty, I can zip through the checkout (with the help of a speedy cashier). My local store is so quiet first thing in the morning, it is almost a meditative experience. I try to go right when they open the doors at 7 a.m. while my husband is still home and can watch our daughter.
Going to the store alone is just a bonus timesaver, I realize that it is not always realistic to go without the kids, but you might be able to swing it once a month and get the bulk of your shopping accomplished. Think about all the other things you could tackle if you had one less errand to run!
Photo Credit: PolyCart via Flickr