There have been moments during a shopping trip that I felt like I was climbing Mount Everest rather than walking down the canned goods aisle. Much of that has to do with being prepared. Here are a few tips for making the most of your shopping trip:
1. The List ”make it and check it twice!
Really, your grocery list is your road map for the store. If it is complete and well laid out then you can save yourself time, energy, and money. I will not go do my big grocery shopping trip if I have not planned out a menu and made a good list. It's just a waste of time. I would be lost without the master shopping list I created. It is the key to my shopping success and essential for streamlining my shopping prep time. (By the way, you can see a sample of my master shopping list here.)
2. The Menu Plan
The menu doesn't have to be elaborate, but a rough idea of the week's menu ensures that I can go to the store once and not be left in a lurch without important ingredients. In my eBook, I outline 6 different ways to plan menus. Lately I ™ve been using a combination of e-Mealz and some family favorites. I also take a little inventory of breakfast and lunch foods so we have what we need to make those meals too. It isn't just dinner that needs planning.
3. The Time of Day
If I have even the tiniest bit of flexibility in my schedule, I will NOT go to the store at 5 o ™clock in the evening. It is just asking for trouble! But, I homeschool my children so shopping in the morning is rarely an option either. When our family's schedule is rockin ™ and rollin ™ I usually do the shopping as early as possible on a Saturday morning. But, that means I have to get my menu plan and list done the night before. Now, it's a habit.
So what does all this look like in real life? Well, for one thing practice helps. Taking the time to plan my menu and grocery list for a few weeks taught me a lot. Putting some systems in place–like the master shopping list ”is another element of success. If I am crunched for time, then I will just write out a list of meal options and make sure the ingredients are either in my cabinets or on my list. Then later I can assign a meal to each night of the week. But, if possible, I try to carve out a bit of my homemaking time to thoughtfully plan a menu for the week (or two) and make sure that it is using up foods I already have, using foods that are on sale, and the meal preparation time matches the schedule for that day (i.e. a crock pot meal on a field trip day). So what things help you prepare for a shopping trip? I ™d love to hear from you with questions or comments!