That’s My Grocery List and I’m Stickin’ To It!
How many times have you returned from the grocery store with more items (that were not on your list) than the items you actually needed? The box of animal crackers you opened to ward off a toddler meltdown, the bottle of wine you spied while walking through the snack aisle that you figured might come in handy after the kids are in bed, the chocolate bar you used as a bribe to keep your kids from running through the aisles like a demolition team? Yep, been there.
Unfortunately, these seemingly innocent additions to your grocery cart can wreak havoc on your food budget over time. Think about it-a dollar here, a dollar there, and before you know it, you’ve added an extra $50 bucks or more to your monthly grocery bill.
If you’re as guilty as I am of giving in to spontaneous indulgences, do not despair. Making a list and checking it twice is not just for Santa; it’s for moms too. Here are some tips to get you started.
• Get Ready. This part appears simple enough, but appearances can be deceiving. Shaving dollars off of your grocery bill takes ninja-like strategy and preparation. Arm yourself with your weekly sales circulars, take inventory of the items you have on hand, and get ready.
• Make a Plan. Peruse your sales ads and circle the items that your family will eat. Be practical. The deeply discounted liverwurst is probably not a good choice for you if you have a picky eater on your hands. Once you’ve identified the best values, match these items with the staples you already have in your pantry and fridge to make a meal plan for the week. For instance, if you have a stockpile of tortillas and cheddar cheese and ground beef is on sale for.99 a lb, then pull out the sombreros (and perhaps the margarita-maker) because it’s taco night! Pairing sale items with the groceries you already have at home can prevent unnecessary purchases and really help you save on the bottom line. There are endless combinations, so be creative, and challenge yourself to use the stuff you have on hand to save big bucks!
• Write it Down. Make an actual list; do not, I repeat, do not rely on your memory. After all, we’re not getting any younger here, and with every ear-piercing scream from your toddler and tear-filled request for juice, your patience is wearing thinner and all you can think about is getting out of the store and back to your safe-haven. Without a list, you’re bound to forget something, and who wants to confront Weekly Grocery Shopping Part II? Not I, my friend.
• Time it Right. Obviously, getting your hubby or a sitter to watch the kids while you run to the store is the ideal scenario. Shopping minus toddlers equals accuracy and efficiency when it comes to sticking to the list. But, if this isn’t an option, there are still some things you can do to keep your resolve. Plan the trip at a time when your child is rested and well-fed. For me, this is that window of opportunity right after breakfast but before nap time. If your child is tired or hungry, he’ll be more likely to beg for things not on the list and whine (or worse) when he doesn’t get them.
Let’s face it. Grocery shopping is a pain, especially with toddlers in tow, but with a little preparation and know-how, it can be a cost-effective– and even pleasant– experience for the whole family!