Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Grocery Shopping

I hate shopping, especially grocery shopping. I try to get it done as fast as possible. Lately, I've been able to tear my list into quarters and give each child a section. The last one to complete their portion gets to unload the cart, wait in line and bag the groceries. Of course the kids have found that they can sneak items that I would never buy into the cart. We can usually be in and out of the store in under half an hour and about 20% over budget.

Budget: N. An estimate of costs, revenues, and resources over a specified period; Money for a particular purpose. V. To plan allotment of funds, time.

Having spent most of the past year sick and unemployed our budget has been shot to hell. I have become a maven at penny pinching and cost effective meals. This is a good thing, but it has cost me time, not that I didn't have any being unemployed, but still.

My goal over the next few months is to find ways to continue to save money in the kitchen while getting me out of there quicker. The first step to reaching my goal is to lay down some rules. Shopping rules. Let's face it, the shopping is not going to go away, but there are three things I can do to make it less painful to my wallet and my time.

1.  Never shop without a plan. A plan, a menu plan. And write it down. It doesn't have to be super detailed, it can be as simple as Monday-chicken, Tuesday-pasta, Wednesday-fish.... Just saying I need 5 dinners for 5 people isn't going to cut it. Write down the days of the week and plug in meal ideas. You don't have to stick to the exact plan while cooking, things happen. Wednesday your sister could show up and she doesn't like fish. So swap out Thursday's dinner. Easy as pie. Mmmmm pie...... Besides, if you don't have a plan you can't make a shopping list. Which leads me to the second mistake.

2. Never forget your list. You need a list. A written list. Trust me, you can't remember it all, there are too many things vying for your attention at the store to keep it all in your head. Inevitably you will forget something causing you to have to make another run to the store. This not only eats up precious time but it leaves you open to putting more things in your cart that are NOT ON YOUR LIST. Having a list allows you to shop deliberately, consciously. It's harder to get distracted when you have your list in your grubby little paws. Speaking of distractions, let's look at mistake number three.

3. Never shop while hungry. Hello! Obvious right? Yet I still go to the store when I'm peckish. It's embarrassing to get to the checkout with half a bottle of iced tea and an open package of cookies. Not only that but when I shop while hungry I put things in the cart that ARE NOT ON MY LIST and therefore NOT ON MY BUDGET.

Let's talk meal planning next week.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Lists

Back in March I wrote a ramble about lists. It was partly serious and partly tongue-in-cheek, and I've been thinking a lot about it. My shopping and errand lists have a better chance of completion than my task and chore lists. It's pretty obvious why, after all, who wants to clean?

Recently I've been ill. I'm better now but I had a week long stay at the hospital the last week in May. The biggest runoff problem from this, aside from feeling crappy, is that I've been unable to work. Without my 20 hours a week we are a financial train wreck. Social Services has pulled through and we've got food stamps but food stamps doesn't pay the rent or feed the dogs and cats.

So what does this have to do with lists? It has a lot to do with lists. Lists help prioritize. Lists help you see the whole picture. Lists can remind you of what's really important in the long run, the people you love and who love you.

I've added a donate button to my blog for you generous souls who can and want to give. All donations will be kept private and will only be used for rent, utilities, necessities and the animals.