If you have been around here very long you know how I feel about grocery shopping.
Some days I’d rather have teeth pulled than take all four kids to the grocery store.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for warehouses full of food to feed my family, but it’s my most dreaded chore.
Because as every mom knows, you don’t just go to the store, put some food in a cart and check out. If only it were that easy.
The grocery shopping process starts long before you ever even get in the car.
Grocery shopping requires meal planning, list writing, diaper-bag packing, coupon clipping (if you’re into that), consoling the baby who doesn’t understand why they can’t have the strawberries you just put in the cart, wrestling the grumpy toddler who needs nap, trying to think straight, keeping tabs on the big kids, knocking things over, picking things up, checking out, loading the car with kids and food, driving home, unloading the car of kids and food, putting all groceries away while tending to four grumpy, tired, hungry children…then making dinner…and trying to stay calm through it all!
First world problems, I know.
It’s easy to spend way more time, energy, and money at the grocery store than necessary, especially when kids are involved.
So, to help remedy the matter, I’ve put together a list of some of the tricks I’ve learned (many from seasoned moms) over time that make grocery shopping a little easier.
Ten Grocery Store Hacks to Save Time, Money, and Sanity
Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach
When I’m hungry, I buy more stuff. Stuff I don’t really need. Often stuff I wouldn’t normally want to spend money on or even put into my body.
When the kids are hungry everyone knows it. They are grumpy and whiny and we end up opening a box of cookies on aisle 3 just to keep everyone happy. Don’t judge me.
I’ve learned to feed everyone before we even leave if at all possible. I also keep a package of trail mix or a few granola bars in my bag at all times to prevent meltdowns.
Don’t Go Without a Plan
Does anyone else have trouble thinking straight in the grocery store? Even with a list, I’m so prone to distraction. With so much going on it’s easy to get disoriented and overstimulated.
Having a meal plan and a thorough grocery list before I even leave the house is a must. I can spend as long as I need to in a quiet house planning what I need to buy so that when I’m in the heat of the moment I can think through what I really need.
Having a plan prevents overspending and helps me think straight on grocery days.
Make It a Learning Opportunity For the Kids
I used to hate bringing the kids shopping with me until I learned to let them be part of the process.
The big kids help me meal plan and choose recipes. They each take over a portion of the list and we work together to find the items. They help bag groceries at the checkout, and they help unload at home. They even help cook!
The babies can learn colors, shapes, opposites, and directions as we shop.
These simple lessons will be invaluable to them, and having some extra hands on deck is invaluable to me.
I use my trust Thirty-One Utility Tote to carry groceries into the house when we get home from the store. I can fit multiple grocery bags into one large thirty-one bag, drastically reducing the number of loads I have to carry from the car to the kitchen.
Don’t Lose your Aldi Quarter
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve unloaded our herd of kids at Aldi, only to realize I had forgotten my quarter for the cart. If you are an Aldi shopper, pick a sacred place in your car or purse to keep your quarter (or multiple quarters) so you have one every time.
Don’t be Tempted by Brand Names
If you’re interested in saving money (and you can help it), try to avoid being a name brand snob. Many off-brand items are just as good if not better than the name brands, and better for your budget too.
Avoid Individually Packaged Items
My girls love sliced cheese (the fake kind in individual wrappers), but we almost never buy it. It’s much cheaper (and healthier) to buy a block of cheese and slice it myself at home.
You almost always pay more for individually packaged items because you are paying for convenience. If you have time to plan ahead, consider alternatives to individually packaged items. Here are some simple alternatives to some popular individually packaged items.
Avoid Pre-washed or Pre-cut Items
Again, while it’s convenient to buy prewashed or precut foods, you pay a lot more for it than you would if you just bought the unwashed, non-sliced version. Consider how long it would take you to wash the lettuce yourself, and then decide if it’s worth the extra couple of dollars.
Consider how long it would take you to wash the lettuce yourself, and then decide if it’s worth the extra couple of dollars for convenience.
Make it a Game for the Kids
The kids are always doing scavenger hunts and Eye-Spy in the store. They even play hopscotch on the floor tiles if it’s not busy. Games make the trip much more pleasant for everyone.
If your kids are old enough, they can be great helpers. Because I dread putting away groceries and normally have to tend to the babies after a shopping trip anyway, the big kids are in charge of putting groceries away after a shopping trip.
Sometimes they race to make it more fun. You could also offer an incentive like allowance, or first cookie out of the package. This not only teaches them responsibility but helps me too.
This not only teaches them responsibility but helps me too.
What’s your most dreaded chore? What are your tried and true tips for saving money, time and energy at the grocery store?