Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to make grocery shopping less of a chore

I used to love grocery shopping. It was one of my favorite errands, making a list, checking things off, shopping smart with coupons and bringing my reusable bags. I used to live about a quarter of a mile from a big, shiny supermarket and a five minute drive from a Trader Joe's.

Now I live about an eighth of a mile from a medium-sized supermarket, five minutes from Trader Joe's, with a Whole Foods smack in between, and shopping threatens to become more of a chore than it should be. I still live by my list, but the problem is that I often have to go to at least two of those stores on any given trip in order to cross everything off. So I've tweaked my shopping style and have a few tips to help make the process more enjoyable:
  • I keep a running list of items needed, then before I plan to go to the store, I check all the recipes I intend to make in the coming week and fill the list with needed items. I do a quick walkthrough of the house to make sure I'm not forgetting something like toothpaste. This cuts down on forgetting anything and decreases the frequency I need to shop.
  • I've pretty much given up on coupons, unless I happen to come across one that is for something I already buy and use. I find that if it is for something I use, but a different brand, then the savings the coupon represents still don't make up for the price difference against the brand I usually buy, so I'm not really saving money. I also don't have to worry about remembering to take them with me or pull them out at checkout.
  • Of course, I always bring my own bags. Remembering to do this every time is a point of pride with me, and I prefer my own sturdy and pretty bags to disposable ones anyway.
  • I bring a bottle of water and stay hydrated. Especially if I'm going from store to store, I always get thirsty walking around with a cart, and drinking water helps me feel better and cuts down on impulse buys like expensive smoothie-type drinks.
  • I try to time my shopping so when I arrive home laden with bags, my husband is home and available to help me unload. We live up two steep flights of stairs, and while the exercise is good, it's also nice to share the load.
  • I stock up on dry staples wherever I can, so sometimes I can get away with a short, light shopping trip one week (fruits, veggies, milk) alternated with a staple-heavy trip the next.
Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by simiezzz
Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email lelah@lelahwithanh.com. Sign up for Lelah's News, a once-monthly newsletter.

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