If you are anything like me, you have children that get HANGRY! A LOT.
My toddler’s mouth is like a black hole for fruit and cheese sticks.
If the house is not stocked, it ends with me hunting for an old frozen go-gurt in the back of the freezer and even that being gone.
It’s like a more panic-stricken version of Old Mother Hubbard.
But going to the grocery store (especially with the ravenous toddler in tow) can be frustrating and time consuming.
I dream of someday living in a bigger city that has grocery stores that offer deliveries and/or curb-side pick up.
Yes, that does exist! Just not in the middle of nowhere.
The day that I can order groceries on my phone and casually swing by to pick them up, I will be crying. tears. of. joy!
Until then, I have found ways to make shopping less of a task by following these 6 simple time-saving tricks.
1. Shop Less Frequently
The best way to save time doing something is to do it less frequently.
I try to be in the store no more than one time a week and only do a big grocery trip twice a month.
Once a pay check I make a menu plan for two weeks and buy the ingredients for those dinners, plus any household staples we are running out of.
Then, every other week, we go to the store for just the perishable items we have run low on (like milk and fruit).
2. Buy in Bulk
You know what you don’t need to run to the store to buy at the last minute? Toilet paper.
Because you bought an embarrassingly giant bag of them earlier this month.
The same can be true for all household and pantry staples.
Plus, the cost per item/ounce is often less when buying the bigger container.
You can buy non-perishable household and baby items online, too.
Plus, you don’t have to walk all over a giant store and what you need is delivered right to your door.
It’s basically magic.
3. Go On Off Hours, If Possible
You know what’s the worst thing about shopping? Other shoppers.
Before I had kids, I went to the store in the middle of the night so I had short lines and zero cart traffic to navigate.
The only downside was the floor buffer guy chasing me down the aisle. gah!
To find out the least busiest times to go shopping, just google your local store’s name and “popular times.”
There will be a chart that shows which times on any given day are “popular” and therefore the worst.
As a general rule, the busiest times to shop are weekdays between 3 and 7 pm and weekends.
4. Make and Keep a Routine
If you go to the same store(s) every time and go down the aisles in the same order you will get faster each time you shop.
You will do less hunting and searching and less “oh crap, I forgot to grab milk when I was RIGHT THERE!”
If I practice enough, maybe one day I can go into my local store with a blindfold on and still get everything I need under record time.
A mom can dream, can’t she?
5. Go By Yourself or Corral the Kids Into a Cart
When I take the kids with me to the grocery store, it typically begins with bribing and ends with a meltdown at checkout because “No, you cannot eat the bananas before we pay for them.”
Honestly, I am over it. And since the birth of our third child, the kids hardly ever go to the grocery store anymore.
If a solo mission is not a luxury you have, then remember: the less mobile the under four crowd is the better.
Embrace baby wearing, grab a giant cart, strap the littles in, and prepare to ration out the snacks until you get back to the car.
If your kids are old enough, you can give them specific jobs (like picking out cereal, checking off the list, counting produce, etc) to have them be involved in the process instead of nagging you or throwing random stuff in the cart.
6. Make a Meal Plan and Use a Categorical Shopping List
This is probably the most important part.
Making a meal plan will tell you exactly what you need to get at the store.
Using a shopping list arranged by category will tell you exactly where to get it in the store.
It will help you remember to grab that milk when you are getting the yogurt.
With your shopping list filled out and in hand, you are ready to go through the store quickly and get exactly what you need.
Or, you know, enjoy a leisurely perusal of the aisles while listening to babies cry, and when you get home you will have exactly nothing you need to make real food and everything that looked tasty (read: swiss rolls and a giant jar of pickles).
The choice is yours!
You’ll be so organized you’ll never forget anything again! (mostly)