I was thinking last week, while whizzing through Aldi and Wal-Mart, how my grocery shopping has changed and evolved over the past years.
I actually detest meal planning and grocery shopping but I know that my life is much better if I take the time to do it. Well, let me clarify, all our lives are better if I grocery shop, for without food...well, you know. In reality, I guess all of our lives are better, too, if I take the time to meal plan since I save my sanity, my time and our money.
When my kids were much smaller, I would go grocery shopping in the evening so I could leave them home with my husband. It would be a grueling task to drag my tired body through Wal-Mart for hours on end; because, really, who gets out of there in under an hour? But far worse than trudging through the store at night was trudging through the store during the day with seven children. This happened ONLY in extreme emergencies. If this is your only option (taking everyone with you) then I will pray that another option makes itself available to you!
Once I had some old enough to stay home with the littles, I moved my shopping to the daytime hours. I still went by myself whenever possible, but doing it during the afternoon made it go a little bit faster because I wasn't quite as tired. If needed, I would still go in the evening.
Now that I've transitioned into older children, I still go during the day, but here's the difference. I now try to take one of them with me. Why, you might ask? Well, because I despise standing in line at the deli counter and so I take said child with me, give them the deli list and send them on their way. Usually by the time they are done at the deli, I've completed 90% of the shopping. The only thing left is to stand in the checkout line, which can usually take as much time as the shopping did.
I've also begun shopping at Aldi again because the quality of their food choices has gotten much better over the past few years and the lower prices help in the budget area. It has become a challenge to me to see how fast I can do my Aldi shopping because, well, you have to make it interesting somehow. Last week was my personal best: 22 minutes. It is also important to be accurate and last week I actually didn't forget anything even though I flew through the store.
My daughter and I then moved on to Wal-Mart, where I know the time is at least double that of Aldi. I asked her if she was up to the challenge to make it another personal best time and she said she was, so in we went. Now granted, I didn't have that complicated of a list, but many times that doesn't mean anything. So I sent her off to the deli with her short list and before I had even made it out of the personal and household sections, she was done. It was looking promising at that point. We made our way through the food aisles and then headed to the checkout, where I knew that everything we had accomplished thus far could be thrown out the window. Miracle upon miracle abounded and we were out of the store 35 minutes after we entered. Our entire trip, from leaving to getting home, was 1 hour and 40 minutes. Unbelievable!
So if you hate this whole process as much as I do, then try to find ways to make it easier and more fun. Take a helpful child along with you, make it a game, buy yourself that special treat once a week, whatever it takes to make it more tolerable.
As always, feel free to share your favorite shopping tips so others can benefit.