Unless you’ve been busy homesteading, you MAY have noticed that RVA is a virtual battleground of the country’s biggest grocery store chains. In fact, I can barely keep up with the explosion of stores opening over the past 2 years. Within a five mile radius of my home in Midlothian, VA, there are TEN stores that sell groceries of some sort.
What the what?? Yes, we are super lucky to live in an area where we have so many choices. But, with more choice comes more opportunity to complicate a simple task–grocery shopping. A couple of months ago, I was leaving Wegman’s with a relatively small haul and started counting how many different grocery stores I had shopped in over the course of 7 days. SIX.
Here’s how I rationalized it:
- Aldi’s: I can get chips, cooking staples, and produce at dirt cheap prices.
- Wegman’s: Family Packs are a huge money saver. We broke up with Costco, so where else would I stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, milk, eggs, and bread?
- $2.99 Tuesday at Fresh Market! What would I do without chicken breasts and freshly ground chuck that week?
- Wal-Mart: Ummm…cheddar bunnies for lunch.
- Kroger: It’s my home base and my weekly grocery run.
- Seriously, it was JUST a carton of milk at Target. And some lunch meat, and peanut butter.
So, here’s the crazy part: I am HUGE into meal planning. It’s the way I keep my sanity during the dinnertime hours. Every week, without fail, I plan and shop for our meals in an effort to save time, money, and honestly, brainpower. But, in my efforts to get the best deals, the most organic options, and the freshest meat, I’ve totally negated the benefits of meal planning by spending too much time in grocery stores.
So, here are the steps I took to condense my trips to just 2 stores per week.
Recently, I made a meal plan for weekday breakfasts, lunches, and snacks and I repeat it. Week after boring week. My kids don’t mind AT ALL because there IS variety among the days. It works for me because I don’t need to get a huge variety of options from several stores. I make habits of getting particular items at particular stores and just stock up when I go. I have embraced the Groundhog Day-ness of my current life.
Meal plan like a boss.
It takes time and energy, but in the long run, it saves me on so many fronts. I’ve come up with my own system on meal planning around our busy family schedules and, for us, it works. Just thinking of going to a grocery store without a plan makes me lightheaded.
Choose a ‘home base’ store.
I quickly decided I was going to get the bulk of our groceries using Kroger’s online ClickList program. It has spoiled me so much that I will often do without, rather than walk into a grocery store. If you live in RVA, most likely, you have this option because we ARE a battleground city. 🙂 Both Wal-Mart and Kroger offer similar services where you can order online, drive to the store, park and the attendant brings your groceries out to you. It’s AH-MAZING! I place my order while I’m meal planning, so it’s a huge time saver and, in the end, also saves us a ton of money.
Rotate the other stores into the schedule once a month.
I do love Wegman’s, Aldi’s, and Fresh Market for particular purchases. And, luckily, most of those purchases aren’t perishable. So, when I go, I go big. I may get 3 bags of Aldi’s brand of Pirate’s Booty, but, it saves me from going back in. I also stock up on Fresh Market chicken and ground chuck so that I can use them for freezer meals. And, often, I go on the same day each month, like Tuesday mornings, so I always know I have a trip planned and I don’t feel the need to pop in for an ’emergency’.
Keep a running grocery list.
Obviously, this helps prevent me from forgetting dishwasher detergent when I’m at the store. But, it also helps me to brain dump so that I’m not reminding myself each morning to get oatmeal. I write it down once, I know it’s taken care of, and I don’t think about it again until I go to the store.
Hopefully, these tips give you a bit of a ‘how-to’ if you’re looking to cut down on your trips to the store. There’s no harm in giving it a go for a couple of weeks to see how it works for you and your family. Who knows…you may just enjoy the money and time saved and never want to go back to grocery store hopping again.