Author Topic: Just took over shopping duties, overwhelmed, talk to me about your routine  (Read 5557 times)

Manguy888

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My wife has always been the shopper in our house. But recently she told me that she hasn't been able to control her spending in stores, and thinks she needs a break from shopping duties. I thought this was incredibly brave of her to admit (she's not often vulnerable), so I agreed take over shopping for 3-6 months to give her a break.

The only problem is: I hate going to stores. Hate it - everything about it.

My wife did a BJs trip every month (like a Costco) for big items like toilet paper, diapers, etc. And a weekly trip to a discount place called Shop Rite for meat and produce. Both of these places are decent drives away and I just don't think I have it in me.

Can anyone share a method they use to shop frugally with minimal trips to big, clinically lit, soul-destroying stores? Any bulk buying websites? Amazon/Target delivery?

slappy

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Usually at a place like BJs, you can order online and pick it up in store. See if any local grocery stores offer that service. We have a local grocer that has a similar service. You order everything online, set a time and then drive up and they have everything ready for you. I think they charge a $5 fee unless your order is over a certain amount. Seems like it would be totally worth the fee. 

Maybe also double up on the BJs run if you have the storage space. Buy a few months worth of stuff so you don't have to go as often.

Lepetitange3

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I shop only twice a month- once around the 1st and once around the 15th.  This helps keep it from being overwhelming.  It does require a bit of planning, having a solid list so I know what's needed. 

I hit Costco probably only 3-4 times a year and just stock up then. 

Shanksy

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In our household we have a whiteboard on the fridge. As we run low on items we add them to the ongoing list. It helps a ton because whenever I'm actively making a grocery list or meal planning, my husband never has any ideas what he wants to eat, but sometimes he gets a hankering for things when I'm not around and he can just add it to the list. Last night he told me he wants quesadillas for dinner tonight so I'm going with Mexican food all week so we can reuse ingredients. Tacos tomorrow, southwest egg scramble, baked potatoes with leftover taco meat(veggie faux meat), or taco salad fixings on a bed of lettuce, whatever it takes to use up all the perishable ingredients.

First, it's never as simple as just buying groceries, it also involves active family meal planning and a day to day understanding of what your food needs will be depending on the household schedule. How many breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners do you need to shop for? How often do you eat out? Does anyone eat at work/school? Does anyone have a special occasion/field trip/work event coming up where meals will be provided? Are you going on vacations, is there a holiday coming up?

Who is going to cook all the lovely meals you plan and buy for? How long does all of that take?

In our home I do all of it, the planning, the shopping, the prep, and the clean-up. I love it, it's like a little game to me.

Sample weekly meal plan and grocery shop with subsequent meal prep would be something like: 1 semi large shop at either Fry's or Target, with 2-3 mini shops for the things I forgot and/or fresh ingredients. I generally need to provide easy to prepare lunches for the husband that he can do himself, breakfast for myself, snacks and lunches that I can take to work for myself, and dinner for the both of us. Dinner gets complicated because I'm vegetarian and DH is not. So sometimes I do meatless meals, and other times I do a separate protein for each of us with same side dishes. After the larger grocery trip I do quick preps to keep things fresh and organized, with meals planned written on the white board, and vegetables and fruits washed and cut up. I can happily eat the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch (and often do) but DH hates that, so he usually has dinner leftovers set aside for him or else junky food type things like microwave mac + chz or ramen noodles.

I keep a binder filled with some of my favorite dishes, but it's also good to have a rotation of vegetables that everyone likes in mind. My dinners usually consist of a protein, some starch, and a vegetable. Actual examples are: Sesame fried tofu with broccoli and rice, or Eggs prepared any way with salsa, avocado and half a baked sweet potato, or faux steak strips for me, real steak for DH with skillet red potatoes and green beans.

I love broccoli, DH loves brussel sprouts, we rotate through side vegetables so no one gets too bored. I love roasting vegetables, its easy, if you foil line all your baking sheets clean up is quick, and it's a type of cooking where I don't have to stand over the stove and watch it, just set the timer for 20 mins, do a quick check, flip things and wait another 10 mins.

I second costco as a great place for the big things, we buy most of our household items there, such as toilet paper, papertowels, dishwasher tablets, etc. I also plan to pick up some perishables that we go through quickly on our every other month costco trip, like yogurt, and some vegetables/fruits.

Loads of people have success with online grocery ordering and delivery, as well as once per month big shops and then 1/week small shop to pick up fresh perishables (milk/yogurt/fruits/veggies). One such person I'm thinking of is, http://www.penniesintopearls.com/. She just did a whole segment on amazon grocery delivery and another grocery delivery where it's all online and they even deliver fresh items. It requires a lot more planning though. I usually only plan a week in advance for our meals, but if you want to do once per month shopping you have to plan the entire month in advance or you'll find yourself back at the store picking up one off things for things you hadn't planned for.

Best of luck to you! I think it's wonderful that you're jumping in to help, you might even find you like it and continue doing it for the household long term, especially if you find a great strategy with online ordering and it helps your family save money.

frugalnacho

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We use the app "our groceries".  It shares grocery lists between devices so me and my wife always see the same lists that get updated as we add/cross off stuff.  When we need something we add it to the list.  We have a white board that we menu plan on for a few days in advance, so we always know what items we are going to need and when we are going to need them by, and we time our trips once we deem it necessary to go get what's on the list.   Then we go and get everything on the list.

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I hate it too. So much.

Headphones help me somewhat. I put on something  I really like to listen to, either upbeat and peppy (if I'm in the mood), or relaxing (if I'm in a bad mood). Then I float through the store ignoring the other customers with a smile, not being able to hear the announcements and advertisements, and going about my business. I take them off when I get to the checkout, or I go through the self checkout. It has helped a lot.

LadyMuMu

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It just takes planning, IMO. Meal plan and make a list. Also keep a running list on the fridge. When you go to the store, only buy what's on the list. No exceptions.

Bulk is not your friend unless you are killer about optimizing all your food usage. The average family throws out 40% of the food they buy--either it spoils before used, gets scraped off the dinner plate into the trash, or lingers too long as leftovers in the fridge. Even bulk buying in household items (shampoo, dish soap, paper goods) usually means that people feel free to use it more liberally.

human

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People complicate this too much. Go to one store only, the closest one and stick with your budget. Stop running all over town. The local grocery store usually has one brand of something on sale or a no name brand.

Lis

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Single person in a small household, so my use might be different than yours (YMMV), but here's what I do -

Amazon Subscribe and Save ends up being the perfect balance between cost and efficiency for paper goods (paper towels and toilet paper only) and pet food. I mean, it really doesn't get much more efficient or easier than having it delivered to your door, so it's worth it (for me) to spend an extra $2 or $3 to get it shipped directly to my door. If you have 5+ items in your S&S order (which I hit easily due to cat food), you can get a 5% or 15% discount on your items. S&S will usually automatically give you 5% on most products anyway. It's easy to skip - so I have 28 rolls of toilet paper on order every three months, but with just me and the occasional weekend visitor, I never actually go through all 28 rolls, so I just skip the order until I need it. It's cheaper than going to my local Target/supermarket, and close enough in price to make going to BJs (going to my parents' to borrow their membership card one town over, going to BJs a few towns over, going back to my parents' to return the card, carrying all the crap in from my far away free parking spot) worth it.

I don't believe ShopRite has a service like this, but I'll occasionally use Peapod (from Stop&Shop) or FreshDirect (very local to me) if they're having good sales and/or I can get free shipping. Sometimes the discount they have on what I need will make paying $6 worth it, but sometimes not. Check to see if local supermarkets have something similar.

FINate

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We use the app "our groceries".  It shares grocery lists between devices so me and my wife always see the same lists that get updated as we add/cross off stuff.  When we need something we add it to the list.  We have a white board that we menu plan on for a few days in advance, so we always know what items we are going to need and when we are going to need them by, and we time our trips once we deem it necessary to go get what's on the list.   Then we go and get everything on the list.

OurGroceries app is wonderful, highly recommend! Install on your phones and connect the accounts. Make a new house rule: If it's not on the list it doesn't get purchased.

Spend a few minutes organizing items on OurGroceries by categorizing items. It will remember these going forward so you only need to do this once per item. Then group your list(s) by category: lettuce (produce), apples (produce), ground beef (meat), etc. This makes it easier to shop for your list and avoids crisscrossing the store multiple times.

You'll save money by shopping more than one store. Costco (or BJs) is good for bulk items (flour, olive oil, certain meats, etc.) whereas a local grocery store may have better deals on other items or things that are not practical in bulk (soy sauce, certain fruits/veggies,  etc.)

And it takes a little while to learn where everything you're looking for is generally located, it will get easier with some practice.

frugalnacho

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We use the app "our groceries".  It shares grocery lists between devices so me and my wife always see the same lists that get updated as we add/cross off stuff.  When we need something we add it to the list.  We have a white board that we menu plan on for a few days in advance, so we always know what items we are going to need and when we are going to need them by, and we time our trips once we deem it necessary to go get what's on the list.   Then we go and get everything on the list.

OurGroceries app is wonderful, highly recommend! Install on your phones and connect the accounts. Make a new house rule: If it's not on the list it doesn't get purchased.

Spend a few minutes organizing items on OurGroceries by categorizing items. It will remember these going forward so you only need to do this once per item. Then group your list(s) by category: lettuce (produce), apples (produce), ground beef (meat), etc. This makes it easier to shop for your list and avoids crisscrossing the store multiple times.

You'll save money by shopping more than one store. Costco (or BJs) is good for bulk items (flour, olive oil, certain meats, etc.) whereas a local grocery store may have better deals on other items or things that are not practical in bulk (soy sauce, certain fruits/veggies,  etc.)

And it takes a little while to learn where everything you're looking for is generally located, it will get easier with some practice.

Yes.  Any time my wife ever says anything about being out of any item in our house I just sing "put it on the list, put it on the list".  It's become an inside joke and a little song.  But she usually puts everything on the list asap.

We have our normal stores layouts memorized, and we buy a lot of the same things over and over again, so it's fairly automated at this point.

EDIT: We do buy things not on the list though, but not spur of the moment wants, just good deals.  Any in season fruit and veggies that are cheap (because it's in season) we buy up even if not on the list.  Sometimes we just substitute the on sale produce instead of what we really want (for example when asparagus is like $1.49/lb we tend to get asparagus, but when it's $4.99 we'll eat salad).   If we see anything that is a great deal we also pounce on it.  Refried beans half off? Not on the list, but buy that whole shelf to replenish our stock while the gettin' is good.  Pork chops for $0.99/lb? Put a few in the freezer and have a weekly pork chop dinner until they run out.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 11:32:53 AM by frugalnacho »

Rosy

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LOL about the soul destroying stores:) It's OK - you can do this!

First off, congrats on her choice of stores, that is half the battle to get a good deal - painless:)
Clever shopping is an art:) that rewards you with $$$

We swapped grocery shopping duties and it took him a while to get good at it:) - I grinned when he came home one day and triumphantly declared he saved two bucks on a gallon of organic milk at Aldi over Publix - yeah baby!
I'm the cook and he simply did not know about all the various ingredients and staples needed for a huge variety of dishes or who had which spice at a better price - bulk or not bulk and why - Badia is one of the cheapest spice companies...

Planning is everything, or you end up with too much of this and not enough of that and have no clue what to fix for dinner. So meal plan (after you figure out what is on sale), cook ahead as much as you can and keep a running list of what you need on the fridge.

Taste and quality is important, so cheapest price is not always smart or desirable. So he had to learn why I insisted on quality over price on certain spices or organic potatoes, etc.
I refuse to buy anything but cage free eggs - that is a value based decision. We had a big chicken farm when I was little and I cannot knowingly support any operation that does not allow free roaming chickens.
I mention this, because as a consumer ultimately you determine what is on the market - the healthy food craze driven by Millennials is a great thing - in that it practically forced Kraft cheese to change back to selling real cheese again. You gotta love that, right?
While there are plenty of consuma sucka's out there - regardless of the insidious advertising, sometimes things do work out in our "favaohhh".

He quickly figured out when to take advantage of in-store, unadvertised deals, because occasionally I sent him back for more the next day, after pointing out that our favorite oatmeal only goes on sale every three months and we need enough to last us until then - so we save 50% - don't you love those savings?
So I still go shopping on occasion - for inspiration, I hate eating/cooking the same thing all the time. I'm a creative cook and I enjoy coming up with new dishes.
 
If there is an Aldi in your area, I suggest you get familiar with their Wednesday specials on meat and produce and where to find their weekly and seasonal specials. It will be a quick trip once you know your way around, because it is not a super sized store. It takes time to get familiar with any store and to figure out which of their store brands taste good and are a good deal for your household.

People compare prices for a reason - it does slash your grocery budget.
Tip one: buy everything on your list first, but always allow a few extra bucks for in-house, unadvertised or clearance specials, I promise in the long run that effectively lowers your food expenses.
Tip two: before you go, print out coupons online, check the ads-so you can plan your trip and your food preparation for the month around them. Last Sunday - 5 minutes online saved us $15 - (two $3 coffee coupons plus several $1 coupons). Better yet I found and signed up at the mfg site for an eye drops coupon, another $3, but the best part is we can get another $3 off indefinitely. Score!
 
If you are into apps - by all means, consider Ibotta or Receipt Hog - it actually helps in getting a really good grip on the prices in your area plus it both saves and earns you money - not a bad deal, if you are serious about slashing that grocery budget.

I understand about the convenience and allure of places like Amazon for young, professional couples, but I am simply not willing to pay the price for convenience.
We are lucky to be near to a slew of grocery stores, whole food markets and fresh markets plus several Asian, Polish, Arab and Mediterranean markets.
The small markets are fun, interesting and super friendly, like grocery stores used to be where I grew up. They will take an order just like Amazon would without charging extra or hold onto a fresh Artisan bread for me, so it is not sold out by the time I get there.

The Arab place has the cheapest and best quality bulk bulgur you can buy, they have whole nutmeg for a song (instead of several dollars at the spice shop downtown) and great Turkish coffee. I may have to point to what I want, because there is a language barrier on occasion, but a smile and a taste of something is freely offered and appreciated.
Last week I met the owner/cook of one of the top restaurants in our area who exchanged recipes with me - sweet.
... and no young college kids or harassed retirees that talk over your head at the register either.

Most of these markets are so close that I can be there and in and out in 15 to 20 minutes.
I love the Asian market, because I always get ideas and it is fun to try new stuff and yes, the rice and tea selection is more varied and definitely cheaper.
The produce market run by a Korean family around the corner from us has for whatever reason the best fresh Bulgarian Feta cheese in brine and the Polish store often has fresh or frozen homemade soups and other prepared foods.

Our fresh markets in the area are so good and so fun it is more like an outing and a food tasting experience. Not so great on the budget, but where else can I get eggs and chickens right from the farmer, free music, cool little jewelry and artisan crafted gifts or bread, while hanging out with a glass of wine or fresh pressed lemonade while nibbling on a French crepe or an African dish.

Like everything else in life - shopping is what you make of it. Don't shop at places you hate - life is too short for that! Figure out what works best for you - once every two weeks plus a monthly trip to a warehouse store will be your minimum, like everyone already mentioned.
Granted, babies and toddlers are no fun to shop with, but train them well and they will help you find the bargains and specials by the time they are six.

Change your perspective and you just might enjoy the process, it is a challenge and I do love a challenge. GOOD LUCK!

Noodle

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I know you said you hate everything about shopping, but are there parts you hate more than others? There are so many options for food acquisition these days.

If you hate enormous stores, shop at Aldi or Trader Joe's, or I think Walmart actually has a line of scaled-down grocery stores these days.

If you hate crowds, shop at weird times of day.

If you get overwhelmed, plan carefully with a grocery list app. (I use a different one, but it's still super-helpful.)

If you really hate all of it, between Amazon, the grocery shopping services like Instacart, and the stores with curbside pickup, you can probably find someone to do the shopping for you if you live in a city of any size.

In terms of coupons, my store went to digital coupons a few years back. You load all the coupons to your account and the store automatically activates any that relate to your order.  It is not unusual that I get a coupon credited that I had totally forgotten about.


Lepetitange3

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Amazon subscribe and save may be spot on for paper goods and the delivery is free.  It depends on which paper good you use...

lentil

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I hate shopping too! I actually hate it a lot less now that I have figured out a routine though, so you probably have that to look forward to. My experience is that frugal shopping is a daunting task at first, but becomes much easier as it goes on auto-pilot.

If there's a grocery store right near your house, and you're fantasizing about shopping there instead of Shop Rite, go ahead and do a cost comparison and figure out what you'd really save...it might be the motivation that helps turn the Shop Rite trip into a bearable chore, or the revelation that lets you shop close to home.  Our nearest Costco is half an hour away (one way), which means I never shop there either; the savings aren't significant enough to balance out all the drawbacks.

FWIW, here's my shopping routine. I have a local chain, Sprouts, which is not the very closest to my house, but which has foods that make up most of our diet (lots of produce and bulk bin beans/grains/nuts/etc.). They have a weekly sales flyer that gets posted online on a Wednesday morning. So Wednesday mornings, I read through the sales flyer while I drink my coffee. I build my shopping list around things we need (staples we're running low on, of which we keep a running list on the fridge door), things I know we'll use (staples that are deeply discounted this week, whether or not we're running low), and things that are on sale (usually seasonal produce, which becomes the base for several dinners). Later, I go to Sprouts and buy those things. Once or twice a month, I then go to a second store right after, for certain items (peanut butter, cheese, toilet paper) that are routinely cheaper/better there. And that's basically it. It consistently works out significantly cheaper than if I shopped at the conventional grocery store closest to my house, and by making most of my decisions ahead of time, I really limit how much shopping fatigue I experience.

Playing with Fire UK

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The stuff I buy regularly I have on a printed list. The list is in the order that it appears when I walk around the store. Before I go to the store I check the list for things that I might have run out of and forgotten to tick off the list. It is a pain when they change the order of the store, but it makes shopping less stressful for me.

If your partner has worked hard to find out what the cheapest way of shopping for your household is, I'd be reluctant to change to a more expensive store because it is more convenient for you. That could undermine the great thing that you did when you agreed to take on the shopping duties.

Drifterrider

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I pass a grocery store everyday on the way home from work.  My commute is 5 minutes (6 if I catch a light).

Excepting large purchases when I catch a sale (2 for 1 coffee I buy all they have in stock), I shop as I need.  I find I spend less.  I don't know what I want for supper next Tuesday.  I also know what items are less expensive enough to warrant going to WalMart from time to time.  Campbell's chunky soup is $0.59 per can less ($1.89 vs $2.48).  I buy at least 20 cans (it doesn't go to waste).

Also, begin looking at when the stores normally have what items on sale.  The more time you invest, the less money you will invest.  My local grocery usually puts their sodas on sale on Friday.

Lady SA

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We just go to one store (Trader Joes) to get 95% of our groceries.

First, on Sundays we meal plan. We plan for 3-4 meals per week that we make enough to last multiple lunches and dinners. We have green smoothies for breakfast every day. We also choose one "dessert" thing to make that week (banana bread, cake for a birthday, pie, etc) because I have a massive sweet tooth :) From the meal plan, then we go to the kitchen and see what ingredients we need to pick up to make those. We also check our staples. Then we make a grocery list on google keep, which is a shared list.

We go shopping together on Mondays or Tuesdays, which are pretty slow. Not many people grocery shop on those days. I LOATHE shopping, the bustle, the people, its stressful and just UGH. What we do is split the list and each check things off as we go. DH goes down one aisle to pick up the meat and cheeses, and I'm in the produce section grabbing onions, peppers, potatoes, fruits, etc and pop back to DH (who has the cart) to drop my items off. Then DH swings by the dairy aisle while I go through the pantry section and pick up any staples. Then I go through the freezer section while DH picks some bread and cereal. Then we meet back up at the checkout. In all, that usually takes a 30 min shopping trip down to 10 minutes.

If there is anything we need that TJs doesn't have, DH swings by a normal grocery store on his way home from work the next day.

For household essentials (TP, cleaning supplies, etc), we have a bimonthly trip to Target. We do the same thing -- make a list ahead of time of the items we need, then split the list. If we are desperate, there's a Target near my work and I can pop in and grab something quickly and bring it home, but we do try to wait for that bimonthly trip.

Laura33

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So, first: you are way stronger than that.  Something you're probably not aware of:  most of the people you pass in the aisles also hate shopping.  Yeah, ok, maybe not that weirdo skipping down aisle 12, but for most of us, it's something we suck up and get through, not an exciting weekly outing (yay! another hour in bad fluorescent lighting!).*  You go to work and deal with shit you don't like and people you don't like every day for the good of your family; I have every confidence that you can stomach 30 minutes a week in Shop-Rite. 

The good news:  your hatred of shopping likely makes you very good at it, because you will be working efficiently to get out of there, not lingering over distracting end-caps.  So toward that end, there are two things that keep shopping under control:  (1) planning, and (2) minimizing choice.

1.  Planning:  are you just shopping, or taking over the menu planning as well?  The best way to keep your grocery costs down is to not buy more than you will eat.  If you are shopping and she is cooking, sit down on the weekend and plan meals for the following week, and then make a list from that.  Even if she just gives you the list, talk it through -- I guarantee that she has certain brands/staples that she cares about and others she doesn't. 

2.  Assuming you have all that down, the next step is minimizing choice.  I will 'fess up:  I struggle with impulse buys myself -- I ended up giving up my Costco membership because I was blowing way too much money on stuff I didn't actually need ("hey, it's a deal!").  But I struggle with this at Wegman's, too -- because in addition to all of the staples I need, they have imported deli, fresh breads, imported cheeses, prime meats, etc.  For me, this is why Aldi's is a huge help:  it is a smaller store with a very limited selection, so there are not as many temptations. 

The good news is that these two things are 95% of the battle.  If you buy only what you need, and you get the store brand from someplace like Aldi's, it really doesn't matter if you choose the $3.99 cheese or the $4.29 one.

For you, I would say start with Amazon Subscribe & Save for basic necessities -- no store = no temptation. 

Next, get your list together on your chosen store's app -- that way, both of you can add to it when you think of it, AND the apps tend to create your list in the order of the aisles.  If you don't have that, write out your list in the order of the aisles.  This is key.

Then you just execute.  For you, pick one store -- don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, don't kill yourself going multiple places looking for the best deals, just pick one low-cost store, like Aldi's or Shop-Rite, and get in and out.  Yeah, the experience sucks -- but hey, at least you know you're not overpaying so they can afford mood lighting, you know?  Make a game of it to see how quickly you can get in and out, or to see if you can get your bill down below $X. 

*In the interest of full disclosure, I love a leisurely shop at Wegman's, when I have all the time in the world to check out the prosciutto and imported cheeses -- and then I walk out of there $350+ poorer.  At least the suckiness of Aldi's gives me no incentive to linger and blow more money on a snazzy "experience."

gooki

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I second the suggestion of grocery shopping at odd hours.

For us it 8am Saturday morning. There's hardly anyone around, most of the fruit/veg has been restocked that morning, there's normally a couple of clearence deals on meat, and the workers know my kids names and have time to smile and say hi. It also early enough that no one is running promos/taste test trying to sell you shit.

And once you know the store layout, don't go down every isle. Typically we'll only go through 70% of the store.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 02:38:34 AM by gooki »

Britan

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Not sure if it's been mentioned, but I try planning meals with similar elements/ingredients, with just enough changes to have some variety. For example:

Chorizo sweet potato tacos
Chorizo omelette with spinach
Spinach sweet potato salad with chicken
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Bibimbap (eggs, rice, veggies, Asian seasonings/sauce)
Chicken donburi (rice, veggies, chicken, Asian seasonings maybe an egg on top)
Chicken curry (rice, veggies, chicken, curry sauce, throw in an egg too why not, eggs are the best!)0

It takes a lot of planning and researching at first, but after like 7 months of this, I've gotten pretty good at cobbling together like-meals, and have enough on hand that we don't have the same meal more than once every 2-3 weeks (my husband has this thing about variety). It makes it easier to buy the cheaper bulk packs of things like meat without wasting any.

I also have 3-4 go-to snack food items (e.g. Breakfast bars, trail mix, crackers, etc) and every week I'll buy the 1-2 that are on sale. If one is really good (e.g. Once I saw boxes of 12 breakfast bars for $1 each), I'll buy a TON. This way, we have a variety of snacks that "changes" week to week depending on what's on sale, I get to go "oh neat look a sale!", but I don't impulse buy sale itmes*outside* that list of 4 staple snacks.

I too hate hate hate *hate* grocery shopping. It takes so much damn planning, especially because if it was just me, I'd have chicken, rice, veggies every day. I try to find solace in victory, when I manage to feed 2 for under $300 in a month, or when I buy (and bike home uphill) with 10 lbs of chicken because it was on sale for .70 cents/lb! Feeling like a badass somewhat makes up for the stress of planning.

CNM

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I agree with the poster who said not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

If you make a list and stick to only things you will need, you will end up saving money.  The biggest budget buster is being suddenly compelled to buy random stuff that catches your fancy at the store or purchasing more than you need. 

Make a list.  Stick to the list. 


Drifterrider

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Don't shop when hungry.

Jouer

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I usually put on my big-boy pants and go run my errand. ;-)

But really, here is the simplest way to grocery shop:
- meal plan
- make a list
- maybe put the list in order of where things are located
- go in there like the Terminator and pick up your groceries

It might also help to dream about all the delicious meals you'll be making from said groceries.

WhiteTrashCash

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I use a warestore store membership for nonperishables, food with very long shelf-lives, bulk produce that I use a lot so it won't spoil, heavily discounted milk, and gasoline. I use Target's grocery section for discounted perishables and smaller amounts of produce. The warehouse store takes double coupons and so does Target. I have a route between the two stores that isn't too long, so the entire process takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes. It's not a pleasant way to spend time, but I only have to do it every few weeks. Thanks to frugal living.

ysette9

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Quote
Sample weekly meal plan and grocery shop with subsequent meal prep would be something like: 1 semi large shop at either Fry's or Target

Funny because in my area Fry's is a huge electronics chain store. I've never heard of a grocery store named Fry's. That said, I realize that grocery is very region-specific.

This thread has really pointed out that the chore of grocery shopping is WAY more than just going to the store, buying stuff, and hauling it home, though that definitely sucks. It really gets to the mental load (yes, I used that term purposefully) of all the planning and optimization. What to buy and where and when? I HATE going to multiple stores so I've streamlined almost everything I need from TJ's. We also get fresh produce from Costco when I can brave a trip there or do an Instacart to do it for me. There are about two items I need to go to my local corner market for, but since that is within walking/biking distance it isn't so painful.

I second and third the suggestions for a list. I find shopping easier at TJ's that has a smaller selection of good stuff versus a place like Safeway that has thousands of items, most of them total junk. Unlike some others, I really value my time and the convenience of not driving all around town, so I do not shop for the best deal across stores. I want quality/taste first and am also willing to vote with my dollars on things like pastured eggs. To each their own. It is all about figuring out what your values are and making sure they are reflected in the decisions you make in life.

marble_faun

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Figure out if any grocery stores in your area do delivery.  You order online and set a convenient time. Then the groceries come to you. Voila!

Shop Rite and Safeway often seem to do this, as do some local stores. Where I live delivery costs about $5.  Try not to use an outside app like Instacart if you can help it -- they can deliver super-fast but they tend to mark up all the grocery prices ridiculously.  No need to use any online company if a local store will just put groceries in their refrigerated truck and bring them to you.

The one downside is that a store employee is picking out your produce, but the quality I have gotten is good. It's totally worth it for the time and mental energy saved.  Stores will give refunds if something isn't right.

You can save a list of grocery staples that you order every week, putting that on auto-pilot, then add in special items as needed.  You can also keep a list of things you should check to make sure you're not running low, like your favorite spices or peanut butter and things like that.

Also, you can look into a range of delivery options, like a CSA for vegetables and dairy and/or a local meat delivery service. We supplement our groceries with a monthly delivery of pasture-raised meats and eggs from local farms that is amazing! 
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 06:37:30 PM by marble_faun »

Dicey

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Funny because in my area Fry's is a huge electronics chain store. I've never heard of a grocery store named Fry's. That said, I realize that grocery is very region-specific.
I'm in the Bay Area too. In a past life, I called on Smitty's, Fry's and Basha's, all of which were grocery chains in AZ. If I can trust my rusty brain cells, I believe there was a Fry's family connection once upon a time.

TrMama

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I also hate grocery shopping. I hate that it's a million decisions made in a short period, in an environment designed to distract me. Then I get to haul it all home and make another million decisions about where everything goes and how to Tetris everything into the fridge. Blech.

The only 2 things I have to add are:

1. It will get better over time as you learn the layout of the store. My go to store has been remodeling and reorganizing over the past couple months. It's been hell. Every time I go in, an entire section's been moved. Last month it took me 5 minutes of walking to find the produce section. Who moves the entire produce section? Add to that, they've also reorganized all the dry goods. So now the baking stuff is no longer in it's own isle and the taco stuff is no longer in the drinks and chips isle. Every time I go in, the store is full of confused people wandering around trying to find "that thing I buy every week". It will get better, I just have to reprogram my mental map of the store.

2. If you go somewhere that makes you bag your own, switch to boxes. Boxes (or plastic totes) are way, way faster to load at the till, load into your car, carry into the house and unload into your cupboards. Bags are for amateurs.