Navigating the Grocery Jungle
I’m probably one of a few women who dislikes shopping. While I enjoy new things, I’m too overwhelmed by the shopping experience. I don’t enjoy crowds; and because I am cautious with my money I like to take my time, making me a self-conscious shopper.
So I created some rules for successful grocery shopping. What makes a successful grocery trip? If I leave the store in a relatively short period of time, not ready to tear my hair out, within or under budget, without forgetting a critical item, I consider myself successful.
Rule 1: The early bird survives the experience.
Early mornings are my favourite time to shop. Any time before 9am you should have shorter line-ups, a quieter store, fully stocked shelves, and none of those people who suddenly stop in front of you expecting that you can see their break lights.
Rule 2: Preparation = Success
As with most things in life it’s always best to go prepared. My shopping list is written in a purse sized, spiral bound note-book which is easy to carry and sturdy enough to write on. I have my list on one side and an adding column on the other and a mechanical pencil. Without a list you run the risk of forgetting something or overspending, it is also handy to have on hand for comparison shopping and your household budget.
Rule 3: Who says you would never use math in real life
When counting I round-up to the nearest dollar and add between $15-$30 to my total to account for the taxes. This just helps me to be sure that I am staying within my budget and won’t be surprised by the total when I get to the till. I also like to refer back to these when I’m planning my shopping list so I can budget accurately.
Rule 4: Don’t be rash, use cash
When budget shopping if you have a tendency to over spend, I recommend that you take what you want in cash, and leave all cards behind. With credit or debit cards it’s so easy to ‘forget’ your budget, and nothing is more embarrassing than to realize that you have gone overboard when you get to the till.
Rule 5: Eat first, shop later
Shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster, trust me. Instead of following your list, you will be tempted by the pre-manufactured dinners, junk food and boxed meals. These are filled with preservatives and while they may be great time savers they are not really worth the money. If you mix some low quality items like these with meats and fresh vegetables they aren’t so bad, but all in all I vote NO.
Rule 6: I used to hate to shop alone
I have a girlfriend who will not go shopping unless her boyfriend goes with her. She dislikes shopping and likes to have him for both company and someone to help her carry heavy items. I learned not to long ago that I prefer to shop alone, if my boyfriend comes with me he does nothing but push the cart and sigh, oh, and ask if we are done yet. I like to take my time, I like to follow my list and I like to be able to back track if I forget something without having to hear about it.
To all of those stressed out mom’s dealing with crying kids in the cereal aisle, buddy up with another mom and take turns shopping, you will be so much more relaxed, and at the end of the day that is so much more important than being Super-Mom.
Rule 7: One is the nicest number
While I like to support local economy and shop at local small businesses, I have to admit that one large shop will save you more time and money than a few or many small shops. Some times it will be cheaper to visit more than one store, but most often than not if you are shopping at multiple stores quality is your main concern.
If you like the one stop shop then I suggest the Real Canadian Superstore. While the produce and meats are not as high quality as Save On Foods or IGA, you will have more options, and a better price point on just about everything. Coupled with the fact that they deal with everything from clothing, health and beauty, home and garden, books, office and automotive supplies, grocery and pet items, you can’t find a better selection anywhere.
Rule 8: Grab you headphones let’s party!
Shopping doesn’t need to be a dreaded event, I like to take my mp3 player with me. I have an upbeat shopping play list that helps me to make this chore fun and relaxing. Give your self a break from the house. If you are prepared, shopping will be a breeze and you can go for a walk, listen to some music and enjoy some time out of the house.