5 Tips to Simplify Your Shopping and Your Life
Let’s face it, we are all super busy trying to do it all – work, social life, reaching our goals, home, etc. Your shopping and meal planning are two areas that shouldn’t be giving you stress!
I stress about these topics for a couple of reasons – time and money!
If these are your areas of concern as well then, I have some great tips to help you wrangle in your shopping and simplify it. This will be one thing that you can quickly check off your list!
1. Make a Favorites List
When it really comes down to it, we tend to eat similar things week after week. The one exception might be if you really enjoy cooking as a hobby! Really, I am talking to the average joes on this tip, those of us who eat to get by day to day.
In our household, we have our favorites, like taco salad! From time to time we will throw something extra in like homemade lasagna or crockpot chili but really, we only eat a few different variations. This was not something that I discovered right away either. So, look at what your normal go to meals are and begin to compile a list.
Once your favorites are nailed down, this will be so helpful for two reasons:
- You can throw a menu together in minutes.
- The same shopping list can be reused again and again to cut down on reinventing the wheel.
These two things alone will save you loads of time!
2. Reevaluate Your Shopping Frequency
I grew up in a household that visited the store several times a week to get meals together. As I got older, got my first job, and began to take on grocery shopping for myself, I realized that living this sort of lifestyle on my Old Navy budget wasn’t going to cut it. When I visit the store frequently and without a set-in stone plan, one shopping trip can run me $50 to $100 dollars. And, the thing is, I usually didn’t even end up getting anything special! Now times that shopping trip by 10 in a month and you have a problem on your hands.
Although it was an entirely different situation, I got inspired by Brandon’s mother doing one large shopping trip monthly and small shopping trips here or there to get the necessities. Brandon was raised in a much larger family than I was, and it helped to control costs and food inventory. This was also appealing to me because it seemed like a dream to only go to the store to do real shopping once every so often.
This began the idea of trying to shop once every two weeks when we got paid. It has been trial and error, but we have become better at it.
Shopping once every two weeks has freed up a lot of time for us! It also saves us money because we aren’t making multiple trips and buying a bunch of items that we shouldn’t be getting.
Take your favorites list from tip 1 and make a menu for a week or two weeks to get yourself started and practicing. Use your menu to do a quick scan of what you have on hand. Take a pen and pad of paper, or phone with you around your kitchen, so you can take notes on what you need to buy.
The fun part! I don’t put a whole lot of time into this area but the few minutes that I do spend have added up.
For us, meat is one of the most expensive parts of the shopping list. Look through store ads and buy meat according to what is on sale. I do this before my menu and shopping list are put together, so I don’t need to make a bunch of changes. To help me keep up with the local store ads, I use the:
I will also use Flipp to look up fruit as sometimes you can find a great deal on blueberries, pineapple, etc. and maybe you weren’t thinking about eating those this week, but it sounds great and you can make a change.
Another place that helps me save and avoid throwing away food is by knowing what will last and for how long and plan the list accordingly. For example, if I know that I am only going to be shopping once every two weeks then I will buy the milk that I need and hopefully I can get a carton that has a far-out expiration date. It may take an extra few seconds but try and pull things from the back of the shelves. These items usually have the furthest expiration date. If it will expire a few days shy of the end of my no shopping period, then I will be sure to move my menu around and use it up before it goes bad.
If you shop at a store that utilizes digital coupons, be sure to spend five or ten minutes perusing the website and save any coupons you may be able to use. We frequently shop at Fred Meyer and they have a whole section of coupons that can be saved to your profile and will come off at the register when you enter in your customer number. If you are really into saving some dough, you can go through this as you build your menu, so you can make the most of the savings available to you!
4. Planning Leads to Health Benefits
When we are being diligent about keeping a menu and sticking to the shopping list, I’ve found that we can better plan out how much food we are eating daily, and it helps to keep calories in check.
The extra planning leads to eating lunches in instead of going out, planning out snacks to make sure you have enough and aren’t popping into the convenience store to grab a Snickers.
If there is ample fridge space at work, I will take all my yogurts, fruit, nuts and a couple of lunches with me on Monday, so I don’t have an excuse to not eat in and eat better during the work week.
If this is a goal of yours then meal planning and simple shopping is for you! Thumbs up to getting a step closer to making real changes in your life!
5. Online Ordering
Where we live, online ordering is something that is available at so many stores. If this is the case for your area, then consider using it more frequently to help with the time and money issues or give it a try if you’ve never used it.
I have used ClickList at Fred Meyer and Walmart Grocery Pick Up and have found both orders to be successful for the most part.
I will say that a downside that I’ve experienced only one time was having to send meat back. The meat wasn’t the quality I explained in the comments or would purchase myself. It was discovered that the employee gathering the order did not eat meat, so it was a simple mistake. It was easy to change my mind on purchasing it and it was taken back in and removed from my order before my card was charged.
Submitting the grocery order online has been great because it keeps us from buying unnecessary items as we wander through the store which helps to save money. When you place an order, you choose a designated pick up time, so it can be whenever I want. I have done a pick up at 7 AM and I’ve done one at 7 PM but its up to me and what fits in with my schedule so that is helpful.
As mentioned above, when it comes to quality of meat, the quantity of an item or quality in fruit, you can use the comments section to specify what you are looking for. You will need to be able to explain your item well. For example, one time I wanted specifically 8 pork chops, so I mentioned that in the comments and viola, 8 pork chops were in my order. You can also ask for bananas to be slightly green if you don’t plan on eating them right away. Our orders have all come out in pretty good quality.
Shopping does not have to be a stressor anymore! You are now armed with some tips to:
- Cut your shopping time down
- Save yourself some dough
- Meal plan effectively
- Know how it can benefit your health with just a few simple changes
Take it one step at a time. I have been trial and erroring this for a while and things still fall through the cracks some time. Just remember, any steps you take in this area is progress and you can always find your way back when things start to get hectic again.
What are some of your best time saving shopping tips? Share with us below in the comments.
Brandon and Cristal