The Art Of Grocery Shopping

Up the hill

We’re on day 3 of Snowmeggedon. We actually had a snow scraper machine come up our hill yesterday afternoon. I wonder how often those things get used around here. Schools closed 3 days in a row now…right in the beginning of Beauty and the Beast production. To say this is not ideal would be an understatement. We’ve missed scheduled head shots for the cast members and our first real production meeting. *sigh* The other parents in charge are probably not even fazed. (Look! I used it right!) But newbies like me? Find this situation a bit stressful. I guess that’s why I have a year shadowing…teaches me what really deserves a stress out and what doesn’t.

I will say this about being snowed in…my ability to shop for my family for more than one day at a time has been greatly underestimated by myself. I gave up shopping for the family one week at a time sometime around when Wes was born. When I became a stay-at-home Mom I just started going every day, maybe every other day. I didn’t bother trying to shop for multiple days at a time.

When I started back to work last week I wondered how all of this was going to work out without me being able to shop every day easily. Last week was crazy since we were still fresh from our trip to Tucson and still looking at Christmas all over our house. I went shopping Sunday night for Snowmeggedon. We did go get pizza last night because we wanted to check the roads, but we had stuff for dinner. I actually could probably even go one more day and not shop until tomorrow. BUT – I think I’ll make a run tonight to prep for the rest of the week.

The moral of the story? Don’t underestimate your ability to shop for multiple days at a time. Even if you only have on refrigerator and no deep-freezer. I was proud of us. We even had enough beer and diet coke! And we all know those are the most important things in an ice storm. Screw milk and bread.

I think the trick is that – if you have kids like mine – the ability to concentrate on a large grocery run is near impossible if you’re also tending to your children. If you need to do a huge grocery trip successfully? Leave my kids at home. I mean…YOUR kids. Whatever. And if you CAN’T leave the kids at home? Which I didn’t? You just need to accept you’ll need to do TWO trips that ONE day. For two reasons…1) You’ll forget something when you’re trying to keep your kid from throwing boxes of tampons at other customers and 2) You need to room in the cart that is being taken by the kid you’re trying to contain.

I made one trip to Super Target with the kids in tow. Got the basics…milk, orange juice, bread, etc. Then I made a trip to the smaller grocery store later that evening for dinner stuff for the week. Meat, produce, side dishes, etc. Two trips on a Sunday and I was covered through Wednesday. I think that’s the best I can do for a family of 5 with one refrigerator and no deep-freeze.

What about you? How do you master grocery shopping for more than one day at a time?

32 thoughts on “The Art Of Grocery Shopping”

  1. I am so rubbish at food shopping. My Mum does a monthly shop and gets what she can in one go and then the milk gets delivered and she gets my brother to go to the store on the way home from work for bits that they might be missing. I stand in front of the freezer realise thats nothing there that I fancy and then venture to the supermarket where undoubtedly I get junk or stuff that doesn’t really make a balanced meal.

    Then again when I had a cold two days in a row lunch was a cup-a-soup with 2 or more slices of break and that was it for the whole day lol. Then I graduated to a packet of crisps and a bar of chocolate – totally about 500 calories lol. Again not so good lol.

  2. We used to use snow storms as a time to use up or go through all the stuff cluttering the pantry and freezer for weeks/months with no one eating it. While lunches and dinners get a little odd, that first trip to the store after the snow is awesome because all the things you’re picking are new! And not passed up every day for other things!

    P.s. “snow scraper machine” ha ha ha ha, cracked me up…its called a snow plow. They plow the road. Spoken in a sentence, “why haven’t they plowed our street yet?” Just a little snow vocab tip from a Chicago native, he he he.

    Good luck with cabin fever!

  3. Snow scraper – hee hee – snow plow :). Sorry, Vermonter here.

    As for grocery shopping, I do it all in one day. Friday evenings, once the kids are out of school and the hubby is home, we all go grocery shopping. I bring a list of the necessities and then I see what’s on sale – some of the on sale stuff gets thrown into the cart so that I can improvise some sort of dinner during the week, and I make the kids help. I ask them about what foods they want and have them look for specific items while we’re grocery shopping. They’ve got the deli and the bakery ladies wrapped around their fingers and they always get a good amount of treats. Then we snag some fast food and head home to put the groceries away. The only thing that I usually have to ask my husband to pick up for me during the week is milk. I swear we need to invest in a cow.

  4. I’m testing out this whole “reply” to a specific comment thing. SNOW PLOW. I knew there was a name for it. DUH.

    (P.S. – let me know if you get an email or something tell you I did this.)

  5. I shop throughout the week – 2-3 times per week, but I drive by a grocery store every effing day. It’s not really a big deal and the smaller trips are easier to do. However, this might be changing if I get a job contract I’ve been waiting on.

    Still, a few things won’t change – every Sunday, I come up with about 6 meals to cook throughout the week (if I’m at a loss, I sit down with recipes and cookbooks for ideas. Some weeks, I’ll challenge myself to try a new recipe!) I then add the ingredients needed for those meals to the shopping app on my phone (I used several apps before settling down on the Easy Shop one.) I’ve used some sort of a app for years and years – it’s the only way to go. Even my 5 year old knows that when we run out of something to let me know “Mama, put it on our LIST!”

    However, my #1 Time Saver sorta sucks: I shop during the week. I rarely enter a store on the weekends. It is too crazy, too crowded and takes way too much time. If I absolutely have to go on a weekend, I head out about 12:45 – 1:00 and hopefully things have calmed down.

    Okay, now I am off to read the other comments and get more ideas. There’s always room for improvement!

  6. I try to avoid the store as much as possible–the more I go, the more I spend. So, the day before I get paid, I try to track out the sales and come up with a list of meal ideas for the next 2 weeks. I don’t set a hard core menu, because I go with what I feel like most days but it helps me to have options I know I have everything I need. Then I go to the main (CHEAPEST) store on pay day, with 1 or 2 kids (depending if it falls on a preschool day or not) for the staples and major shop. Then I’ll hit another store or two for the loss leaders or to use coupons when I have time in the next day or two, in the evening when my husband is home or on weekends when I can go out without kids. I will buy 4 gallons of milk and freeze half of them, and still run out and buy milk and produce during that 2 week time, but I really try to keep the visits to a minimum. It helps (?) that I’m pregnant w/ a 1 year old and am getting big and tired and don’t want to drag the 1 year old out (in/out of car seat, in/out of cart, etc.), so I have less motivation to get out there. The older one can walk/stick with me w/o running off now so I don’t lose out on cart space if I have to drag him along. Now this summer, when I have 2 kids out of school and have to take all 4…I may just save shopping for weekends when kids can stay at home. They don’t like coming with me, I don’t like them with me, it may just better for all.

  7. Wow, you guys are lucky you can get out and drive around! We are literally snowed in. Mike and I are going to walk to Publix today.

  8. Courtney – Huntsville, AL – I'm a late 20's Southerner who tries to juggle too many things at one time. My husband and I moved to Alabama a few years ago from Tennessee. I grew up in the theatre and on the stage thanks to my ballet training. Nowadays, I spend most of my time grading papers and forcing high school brains to function outside the box. TwirlingOnTiptoes makes me feel stress free and calm - which is what I want to think about whenever I blog. However, I end up doing a lot of venting so maybe this is a happy place AFTER I'm done blabbing.
    Courtney says:

    I started getting into couponing (I’m not one of THOSE people…yet), so I usually go to Publix once a week but sometimes I forget something or I need to run and get fresh meat or whatever. Of course, it’s just the hubs and me, even though sometimes I think we eat the same amount as a family of 5.

    ADD moment – Al Roker is singing on the tv. He has no idea that the Today show is back on the air and that he’s supposed to be talking about weather. No. Idea. And I can’t explain it, but he really crawls under my skin. This not paying attention thing made me like him even less.

    By the way, I’m impressed at your theatre jargon.

  9. Ugh, I’m still working on this one. I always think I’ve gotten everything I need for the week, and then my husband goes on a Diet Coke binge and the new package is gone by Wednesday, or I find that the ham in the fridge has gone bad so I should have gotten more, or whatever, and I end up doing a mid-week trip at 9 pm after my water aerobics class.

  10. I hate grocery shopping. I don’t even really like ‘fun’ shopping. So to avoid it as much as I can I stockpile when things go on sale. And yes, I also coupon. So I end up walking out of Publix with $150 worth of groceries for about $60. Meat, I always buy at Winn Dixie because they have different things buy one get one free every week. I just buy two of what I know we like. This way I only have to go shopping once every 3 weeks with the exception of milk.

  11. I started a reply and then it got long so Its on my site. I am also impressed that anywhere in Alabama has a snowplow… You and the east coast are not hogging all the snow.

  12. Oh, I’ve known TONS of people who freeze milk. As a matter of fact, our milk consumption is the thing that makes me want a deep freezer the most ! So we can freeze milk! 🙂

  13. I do it once-a-week, and always have, even with little kids (but like everyone else, sometimes there’s an “emergency” and I have to stop by on the way home from work for that one thing — that turns into half a dozen!). But running out of something isn’t sufficient reason to make a second trip; it has to be a true emergency (like milk for my husband’s coffee).

    The trick for me was to take stock before making the weekly list, so I had a good idea of how low we were on things we use regularly, buy extras of things that were on sale (if I had room for them). We try to have extras of non-perishable things we use a lot of, like ketchup, salsa, crackers, cereal… Also, do not drink the last of the milk unless it is a SURE THING that it will be replaced before the next morning (when it will be needed for coffee). Teenagers — and even 22-year-olds — can down a lot of milk in a hurry, unless you warn them that the milk is off limits until you buy more.

    Stores are busier on weekends, but I still prefer to go then, because it’s much less hectic than trying to go after work, when it seems like EVERYONE is stopping by for those last few things.

    As for shopping with kids, yes, it’s hard. But I learned that if you have 3, then shopping with only two is MUCH easier. So dad was always on duty to watch at least one, preferably two, while I did the weekly shopping. I rarely put kids in the basket, because you have to take them out eventually if you’re going to fit a week’s worth of groceries in there; but yeah, sometimes I’d start out that way, telling them they were going to have to get out at some point. This usually happens only with ones that are able to walk; little ones get put in the front and strapped in.

    It’s harder when you’re coming off a vacation and trying to re-stock, and estimate how much you’ll need when it isn’t a normal week. In your case, transitioning back to working out of the home full time, I would expect it to take a while to get used to weekly shopping (if that is your goal) — but in the end it’s worth it because fewer trips means less time spent shopping when your time is already at a premium.

    I don’t understand how can do grocery shopping monthly. Do they bring an army of family members to push the extra carts needed for that much food? When I had five living at home, my cart was overflowing by the time I went to the check-out. Do they have fresh produce one week out of four? Some items spoil in less than a week! I’ll eat frozen and canned veggies, but still like to have fresh bananas, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers on a weekly basis.

  14. I’m actually pretty impressed! I kinda wish I could go shopping every day or every other day. It would get me out of the house! And if we had a Super Target, well… even more so! Hubba hubba!

    We do our “big” shopping once a month. We do get some perishables on that trip of course, but the bulk of it is non-perishables and things like toilet paper, paper plates, shampoo, cleaning supplies, dog food, etc. We go as a family, meaning two carts and both of those carts are FULL and running over as we leave the store. LOL!

    We will make little trips during the month to get perishable stuff as needed. Usually it’s Kile stopping on the way home from work to grab some milk or eggs or something.

    But yeah, we have a deep freeze. I have no idea what we’d do without it now, it’s a godsend!

  15. Heh! I was laughing to myself that perhaps “snow scraper” was like buggy. In this case, something Southerners called a creature they’d heard of but never seen!

  16. I shop once a week, with my little ‘helper’ in tow. I make a 14-meal plan (dinners only), complete with sides. Then I check the fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what I have, and make my shopping list to include the things I need for our meal plan.

    Breakfasts are pretty much just yogurt, fruit, toast, milk, and occasionally cereal. We are all out for lunch, so ‘Smart Ones’ for us and packed lunches for Chico fill the bill.

    I plan for two weeks of meals at once, so I can do a ‘big’ shopping trip the first week and a smaller, fill-in trip the second.

    Also, the deep freeze? Go for it. We bought the small $150 model at Sam’s, and it ‘s so nice to have space for extra meat, veggies from our garden, bread, etc. Actually, we’re Latino and it’s just after Christmas, so right now it’s holding lots of tamales.

  17. Once a week only became an issue with the addition of a third person in our house. Thus, my newfound resolve to meal plan. However, I’m doing a loose version – 2-3 meals for the weekend and two for the week, plus a couple lunches and snacks for the weekend. My husband is out of town for work during the week a lot, so the kiddo and I get by on leftovers, quesadillas, etc.

    So, I swear I haven’t missed an entry, but I’m really confused – you’ve mentioned going back to work a few times now, but what work are you doing?

    I’m transitioning towards part time this year (I hope!), so it has been interesting to hear your perspective on life as SAHM, WOHM, etc. More! 😀

  18. We were much more scheduled when the kids were younger and buying the same basic stuff over and over again. Now when necessary, my husband stops at the local grocery on his way home from work to pick up things for dinner that night and he/we go to Costco about twice a month and I go to Trader Joe’s when we run out of their specific stuff. We have a well-stocked pantry and a 2nd fridge. Right now we have too much stuff in the freezer and need to “shop from our freezer” for the month.

    p. s. loved your faze comment!

  19. I usually do once a week shop. I check to see what I have on hand and check out the sale ad to get a rough idea of a menu for the week then I make my list. I live in a tiny rural town with only 1 small grocery store. I always shop the sale so my menu is made up of those things. We stock up on meat when it’s on sale. For example–this week is the 10lb meat sale so I buy extra meat and divide it up into packages to put in the freezer. I don’t buy a lot of frozen stuff besides frozen veggies and waffles so it fits pretty easy. My daughter eats breakfast at school, the hubby doesn’t eat breakfast, and I usually eat toast or oatmeal. They eat lunch at school or work and I eat leftovers or soup/sandwich–so I don’t have to plan those meals. We do eat a big breakfast occasionally on the weekends.
    Every once in awhile I make a run to the store during the week but not often. I usually do without or figure something else out if I find I don’t have what I need. Honestly, I find I spend way more when I go to the store more often. About once a month I go to the next town for a Walmart run and stock up but now that we have a Family Dollar here I’ve found that I can get pretty much everything there that I could at Walmart.

  20. I used to work in a daycare and we froze milk all the time. It takes time to defrost but it’s great so you have it on hand.

  21. I have lowered my expecatations of myself as far as grocery shopping is concerned. I too tried to do it once a week and definitely could not. I do get to leave my kids at home when i got but I still don’t seem to make it through the week without having to go. After beating myself up about the groceries I have succumbed to online grocery shopping. I live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul and we are very lucky to have 2 options for online grocery shopping delivery and pick-up. I do the pick-up on my way home from work. It’s only $4.95 for pick-up which is not bad because time is money! 🙂 I do my major grocery this way and then stop at Super Target some other point in the week when I need a Target-type item.

  22. I don’t shop anymore, especially not with kids in tow. I order online once/week, as we’re lucky enough to have Amazon Fresh, though I used Safeway delivery before we moved here. And we have milk delivered locally as well, which really helps to make sure we have enough, as I order groceries mid-way through my milk week. Oh, and we do a monthly Costco run, but the samples help keep the kids satisfied there.

  23. So, I hate grocery shopping… and cooking for that matter, so my trick is to suck at cooking so bad that the kid and hubby are satisfied with the staples in life: BLT’s, turkey sandwiches, PB&J’s, and some chicken nuggets and pretzels along with water and beer (not for the kid). It makes it simple to not need many supplies and one trip a week will do. Sad thing is, the one item we have to stop and get-mid week, is usually beer.
    Happy Shopping!

  24. I’ve been following your blog forever (pre-nikki days!) and I just have to say that I’ve been in your exact position and yes “you’ll forget something when you’re trying to keep your kid from throwing boxes of tampons at other customers” hahaha…. so happy I’m not the only one!! 🙂

  25. Ok, I am going to defend zoot and the snow scraper deal. I’m from the south too. We don’t have any (or very few) snow plows because we rarely get snow. They just put a plow on the front of trucks or use graders so scraper might be a better description.

    I second what one comment said-you ought to get you a small deep freeze. We have one and I LOVE it!

  26. …I’ve just never heard of freezing milk! Not sure why since I freeze just about everything else – oh, another thing we do is to go to the “discount” bread store – you know, the place where the bread is set to expire within a week or so? Then we put it in the deep freeze and take it out when needed. Saves TONS of time and money as well. And yeah, if you don’t have a deep freeze, but you’ve got three kids? You should definitely save for one!

  27. I’m terrible – I always end up going every few days – and there are only three of us, and TWO deep freezers. Ridiculous 😛

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