How I Save Time on One of My Least Favorite Activities

posted by Andrea | 02/8/2017
Print pageEmail page

Grocery shopping is one of my necessary evils right now. I have to buy food, but it definitely isn’t one of my favorite things to do — especially not with kids.

Truthfully, my kids are usually quite well-behaved if I take them to the grocery store, but when I take the kids, I have less room for groceries in my cart and I always feel more rushed and frazzled trying to answer their questions and watch where they are while making sure I find everything on my list. However, if I don’t take the kids, I still subconsciously rush because I don’t want to “waste” my precious kid-free hours at the grocery store.

Sigh…

I used the glorious Curbside Pickup service all last year, but the price increased this past Fall and I didn’t want to pay the extra fee every week — so I’m back to grocery shopping again.

I try to go when Nora is at school or after the kids are sleeping — and, despite the fact that I previously loved finding all the deals at various stores — I now only go to one store.

If, for some reason, I can’t find what I want/need at that one store, I order it online or just do without.

I’m often asked about why I switched to only shopping at one store, if I think I spend a lot more, and if I think the time-savings is worth it for me… so I thought I’d share a bit about my grocery shopping in today’s post!

Main Grocery Shopping:

I do 97% of my grocery shopping at Meijer — and when I say “grocery shopping” I really mean ALL my shopping!

For those of you who have never been to a Meijer grocery store, you truly have no idea what you’re missing! Meijer is, hands-down, the most comprehensive one-stop shopping destination for almost anything I need to buy for my current stage of life. (No, this is not a sponsored post, I just really love Meijer that much!)

I realize different Meijer stores will vary in quality and quantity of products, but the 2 Meijer stores closest to my house have an insanely huge selection of produce, fabulous deli and meat counters, pretty decent bakeries, speedy pharmacies, endless options of brands and products, and very comprehensive selections of electronics, home goods, clothing, baby items, lawn and garden, crafts, and more. They even have their own gas station right next to the store and we get $0.10 off per gallon.

Meijer has competitive pricing, clean facilities, helpful staff members, and great perks like online coupons, curbside pickup, and more. Meijer is the main reason I cannot bring myself to shop at Aldi or play the “drugstore game” anymore. It’s just not worth it with 3 kids and a laundry list of other things I would much rather spend my time doing. I need to be able to go to one store, buy everything I need, and then go straight home.

Also, Meijer is open 24-hours a day — which means I can go after the kids are asleep or before anyone wakes up on Saturday morning if I really want to miss the rush!

Anyway, I usually hit up Meijer every 10-12 days. I spend about $120 – $150 per shopping trip, and that includes any extra things like batteries, light bulbs, vitamins, baby things, medicine, crayons, etc. I buy TONS of produce, yogurt, cheese, and meat as well — so their prices really are quite good.

A couple reasons I can get away with infrequent trips to only one grocery store is that I am fairly diligent with meal planning on Sunday afternoon, and I write out an organized list of everything we’ll need for those recipes, along with anything else we’re running low on.

Here’s the link to my free printable grocery list that helps me keep things organized for one larger shopping trip (and away from the grocery store as long as possible!)

Quick Extra Trips:

No matter how much I plan ahead, build my pantry stockpile, or keep extra foods in the freezer, we sometimes still run out of perishable items (bananas, strawberries, spinach, etc.) before I’m ready to make another Meijer grocery trip.

And even though Meijer is only about 10 minutes from our house, we have a much smaller, slightly more expensive grocery store within walking distance of our house (Family Fare — for anyone wondering). So I usually walk or bike there with the kids when we need those one or two things (we even walked there last week in the middle of winter to get bananas and a tomato).

Family Fare is more expensive for many things, but it’s nice and small, it never has long lines, and they offer free popcorn and suckers for the kids — so it’s always a fun walking destination and worth an extra buck or two when I only need to get a couple things.

I can’t even remember the last time I entered a Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, or any other grocery store… and the only time I’ve been to Target in the last year was to return something I ordered online.

SIDE NOTE: Just last week, Dave and I read that a new Meijer store will be opening about 1.5 miles down the road from us in 2018 — oh glorious day!

Costco:

We got a free Costco membership last February — and although Dave and I were both very excited about it, we do not plan to renew our membership this month.

I’ve probably only been to Costco 2 times over the 5 months, and I literally only buy 2 packs of muffins, veggie straws, strawberries, raspberries, and eggs — but now they don’t even sell the cheap eggs and their prices for strawberries and raspberries aren’t that great anymore either.

Also, Costco’s hours are horrible — they don’t open  until 10:00 and they close at 8:30. If I wait until my kids are sleeping, I can hardly drive there, shop, and checkout before 8:30… and if I go right at 10am, I don’t have enough time to shop before I need to pick Nora up from preschool at 11:00… and of course, the kids are napping in the afternoon, so that timeframe doesn’t work well either.

I can definitely see the benefit of a Costco membership, and there’s a decent chance we will try Costco again in the future, but for now, it just doesn’t seem to meet a need we have, so it’s not worth the extra cost.

MY PANTRY and FREEZER STASH:

One other thing I should mention is that I always keep a bunch of basic staples in the house, so we can always come up with a decent meal, even if we are really low on groceries and I STILL don’t feel like going to the store!

  • pasta and sauce
  • rice, beans, tortillas and cheese
  • frozen meats and broth (and even a few cans of soup)
  • frozen hamburger patties and buns
  • frozen veggies and canned fruits
  • waffle mix, eggs, and frozen fruit for smoothies
  • and of course, peanut butter and jelly (since my kids will actually eat this now – as of about 2 weeks ago!)

Knowing that we always have SOMETHING in the house to eat (and knowing that my family really isn’t very picky) makes it a lot more doable for me to make one trip to one grocery store every 10-12 days.

.

I KNOW I could save more money if I shopped at a handful of different stores (I regularly shopped at 4-5 stores each week before I had kids) but I guess this is just one “splurge” I allow myself at this season of life.

So far, I feel 100% confident that the time I save by only going to 1 store is worth the increase in our grocery budget — and I’m extremely thankful we are at a point in our lives where I can make the choice to increase our grocery budget in the interest of saving a huge amount of time.

Grocery shopping still isn’t one of my favorite things to do… but by sticking with one store for 97% of all my grocery shopping, I have simplified and streamlined one of my least favorite activities! 

How do you handle your weekly/monthly grocery shopping?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: FamilySchedules

 
 

Leave a comment

38 comments

  1. Mrs.M in MI

    02/14/2017

    Despite having 2 kids under 2, my husband and I still grocery shop at several stores. We have a small but lovely Aldi down the street from our church, so we hit it right after church each Sunday, before noon and busy time. It’s well stocked at the time, and we buy all of our food except meat there. It’s come to the point where if Aldi doesn’t have it, we rarely eat it.

    We get frozen chicken breasts and fish fillets at Costco because we eat at least two Costco bags of those per month. Also protein powder and Dr Praeger’s spinach cakes when they have them.

    When we want fresh meat we go to the local butcher. If we’re lazy, we go to Trader Joe’s. He cooks dinner and does our weekly meal prep so that’s all on him.

    I buy most everything else at Target, including Up & Up diapers. It’s a monthly treat for me!

    [Reply]

  2. Pat

    02/10/2017

    I tend to go to certain stores for things that are cheapest there. For instance I go to Target for kitty litter because it’s about $1.00 a jug less than anywhere else and I use their red card and save 5%. Sam’s once or twice a year for ground beef and chicken by the case. Better price and great quality. Often I go to PetSmart for dog and cat food, better selection. When I buy staples like flour or sugar I try to buy enough for several months which allows me to shop about every two weeks or so. I’ll go to each of the different stores over about a weeks time and then not shop again for a couple of weeks. At this season in my life I have school age children around nearly every day before and after school, grandkids. It’s nice, Iget to see them and spend some time with them and then they go home. I go to Aldi for crackers, a favorite snack.

    [Reply]

  3. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    02/10/2017

    Oh, I share your love of Meijer – and how I can get everything I need there! Most of my shopping is done at Meijer, after I hit the sales at Kroger, which is just down the road from Meijer. Thankfully, my kids both really enjoying grocery shopping (just like their mom) so it’s our big outing of the week. Like you, I have limited my deal shopping since kids but I just can’t pass up the great Kroger sales yet!

    [Reply]

  4. JoDi

    02/09/2017

    If Costco offers home and auto insurance in your area, you might want to get a quote before you decide not to renew. We save a couple hundred dollars every year with their insurance. I get quotes from other companies every couple of years to make sure their price is still the best, and it always is!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, we get a really fabulous deal on Meemic insurance because Dave is a teacher. They have special rates for education professionals that don’t even come close to touching any other “discounted” rates anywhere else. We literally pay almost half of what we paid at another insurance company before we realized we could get Meemic!

    [Reply]

  5. Rhonda

    02/09/2017

    I also mainly shop at one locally owned grocery store, despite the higher prices. Occasionally I go to a nearby Walmart, but not very regularly. They always have plenty of workers at the local grocery store, they are helpful, friendly, and they HELP YOU TAKE YOUR GROCERIES TO YOUR VEHICLE! So helpful, especially so with kids in tow.

    I also started using your grocery printable a few months ago. One the back I list the meals that I plan to make that week. That has really helped me plan ahead. Thanks again for that!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good, glad it’s working well for you! I like the idea of writing the meal plan on the back of the list too!

    [Reply]

  6. Jenna

    02/09/2017

    Whew grocery shopping. With little kids, it is just no fun (well, sometimes fun, but time consuming). We do 70% of our grocery shopping at Costco. My husband makes a trip every week and a half or so after work, so I don’t even have to go 🙂 I think it’s his “me time”. And most everything else I buy on Amazon Prime Now (different than Amazon pantry). It’s fresh/frozen food delivered within two hours. They have almost everything I need. Any straggler things, my husband can stop at sprouts on the way home from work. Come to think of it, I haven’t been to the grocery store in months. Now that’s the life 😀 for me at this time of life, convenience definitely outweighs cost savings. I will gladly pay extra (such as for Amazon delivery) than spending my very valuable time going to the grocery store.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    “time consuming” Exactly! It really wouldn’t be horrible taking kids to the store if we didn’t have to accomplish anything and could just mill about browsing the aisles and eating cookies 🙂
    Also, you are super lucky that you never have to go to the store anymore! Dave is extremely helpful around the house, but grocery shopping is not something that he is willing to take over at this point!

    [Reply]

  7. Kelly

    02/09/2017

    I go to the grocery store 4 times per month (once a week). One of the trips (usually the first Saturday of the month) is my big grocery trip. I have a spreadsheet with every item we might “normally” purchase, that is broken into categories (meat, cleaning, frozen etc.). The spreadsheet hangs in our pantry on a clipboard. When we (and by we I mean I lol) pull out the last of that item, I write how many I need to purchase in a column on the spreadsheet. Once per month I do an inventory check, go through any store coupons I was sent, highlight the items I have coupons for, scour the store site for digital coupons (which are highlighted in a separate color) and head out for my trip. I only shop at one store and typically save between $50-$100 per trip. This process, coupled with my 3 month at a time meal plan, feeds and bathes my family for a month. On the off weeks, I have a smaller preprinted list with the 3-4 perishable items I buy weekly (milk, fruit, veggies, etc.). I purchase enough to get us through one week. We shop at SAMs club about once every 3-4 months. I order everything online, let them know a pickup day and time, they pull my order and my husband picks it up one evening on his way home from work. It may sound complicated, but has been perfected and updated through the years and works well for our family!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is such an awesome system! Wow, and so well thought out — impressive!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Jamie W

    02/08/2017

    We currently shop once/week on Friday morning or afternoon depending on the kids’ school work. (We homeschool) I take my grocery list with items listed as they are in the aisles. I almost always have my 4 kids with me (ages 11, 8, 6 and 18 mths) so I am in and out as quickly as possible. My oldest 3 all have “jobs” to do to help us survive the trip. One watches the baby, one operates the calculator, and one helps me get items. Our nicest grocery store here in FL is Publix but their prices are outrageous. I have discovered Aldi’s and have been doing all my shopping there. I was making a second stop at Publix for anything I couldn’t find at Aldi’s but it just isn’t worth it to me anymore. Just takes too much time to get 4 kiddos out and back in at another store. So now if I can’t get it at Aldi’s, we just do without.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I suppose older kids can at least be helpful at the store 🙂
    oh, and i’m glad you mentioned that Publix was expensive. We always go to Publix when we go to Florida and I just assumed Florida grocery stores were more expensive. Now I know it’s the actual store that’s more expensive!

    [Reply]

  9. Julia

    02/08/2017

    I love the picture of Nora with her doll! My girls often have ride-alongs as well. 🙂

    We do Aldi and Sprouts every other week (they are conveniently located in adjoining parking lots), Costco once a month, and emergency trips as needed to whichever store is most convenient (often my husband hits up Publix on his way home from work).

    Aldi and Sprouts send out fliers on Tuesday for their deals starting Wednesday, so I usually sit down Tuesday night and plan out my shopping list. My meals are mostly planned in advance, so this is just figuring out what produce is a good deal, or looking for stock-up items when they’re on sale (Sprouts is running BOGO on Yogi tea this week, and I live on Throat Comfort when I’m sick…which I have been…). Also if a particular cut of meat looks good I’ll throw that into the meal plan.

    I have FINALLY come up with a meal planning system that works for me! For years I would over plan, not stick to the plan, burn out for a while, get fired up to try again, and repeat. Finally I came up with a four week “default” meal plan, plugging in our favorites on a regular basis, and sprinkling in a few higher-maintenance meals at reasonable intervals. Now I can just default to whatever is planned unless some thing better comes along…like seasonal favorites, a special sale, or extra time for fancy food prep. We usually end up with leftovers several times a week too. It has worked SO well!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, nora and her doll — they were so little back then 🙂

    Yay for coming up with a fabulous meal planning system that works for you! Doesn’t it just feel so great when it finally clicks!?!?

    [Reply]

  10. Debbie

    02/08/2017

    We don’t have kids to tow but grocery shopping is not my all time favorite either. We are mostly Costco shoppers. We don’t have a Meijer here in the PNW either. We get most of our food supply from Costco including tissues, toilet paper. We still go to a regular grocery store for smaller items and Fred Meyer is our favorite but since they moved their store it’s more our of the way for us. Only when we’re down their area do we shop there now.

    [Reply]

  11. Karen

    02/08/2017

    Awww Costco…..I just went last night at 8 with a list and was out by 8:30 ~ there were only 3 cars on the lot when I exited ~ so nice! You can start shopping 30 minutes before their official open time ~ we don’t have a nice market like Mejier, so most of my groceries are bought at Trader Joe’s and occasionally Walmart. I’ve just started using Amazon Prime Pantry and with my free shipping, credits I had accumulated and their own coupons I did really great on my last order.

    [Reply]

  12. Jo

    02/08/2017

    Haha I actually enjoy grocery shopping, as strange as it sounds! But I only have one toddler son when I shop. I usually go grocery shopping 2 times a week (big trip once at Aldi’s, and a smaller trip once somewhere else like Super Target or Cub Foods, depending upon food items/other items needed). We always seem to run low on milk, eggs, or fresh fruit before we make it to the next week, so 2 times works for me right now. I think I will work on estimating better in the future if I truly want to cut down on trips, but with inlaws staying with us its tough to nail down perishables consumption accurately. We have Sam’s Club membership, but I hate the 10am opening time too – too close to naptime for us!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Jo, one thing to consider with perishable items is that most of them have a much longer shelf-life than you might think. Milk, for example, can easily stay in your fridge for 2-3 weeks, and eggs are good for 4-6 weeks. I often by 6-8 dozen eggs at a time and 3-5 gallons of milk at a time, and keep them in our extra refrigerator so I never, ever run out of eggs or milk and I never need to make a special trip just for eggs or milk.
    Also, yogurt and cheese have very long “refrigerator lifespans” — many weeks for yogurt and many MONTHS for cheese.

    Fruit and veggies are really the only items I consider “perishable” so we eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies the first 5-7 days after I get groceries, then we use frozen fruits and veggies or canned fruit from the 7-10 (or 12) day mark if we’ve run out the perishable fruits. And really, apples, oranges, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and so many other “heartier” fruits and veggies easily last for 2+ weeks in our house.

    [Reply]

  13. ShellyL

    02/08/2017

    We don’t have a Meijer but I have been there when I visited family in Ohio. They just don’t seem to have those down South. I can see how you’d really like it though. i guess our equivalent is WalMart, but it really depends on which WalMart you go to. Some are clean and nice with helpful staff and others, not so much. I love Publix but the nearest one is still pretty far from me. I think Publix may be a Southern thing. You’d like those, Andrea, but it is only groceries. Good post and I very much agree with you about shopping with children. Not fun.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we always go to Publix when we go to Florida! We’ll be there again in April and I’ll try to scope out their weekly ad a few days before we head down 🙂

    [Reply]

  14. Kristina R

    02/08/2017

    I thought of you a week or two ago when I got an email from mPerks – you don’t have to clip the digital coupons anymore! They automatically deduct them from applicable items after entering in your mPerks info at the register. I am so thrilled because I usually don’t think about looking until I’m standing in line to check out. Saved $5 last week with it!
    I do 80% off my shopping at Aldi – I go about every 2 weeks since it’s about a 15 minute drive from my house. The remainder of my shopping & any perishable needs in between trips is usually done at Walmart due to it’s close proximity. I can’t stand Walmart & prefer Meijer, but Meijer is considerably farther away. One of the only perks of my husband world second shift is I almost always get to grocery shop alone! If I’m taking my kids, however, Meijer usually wins because of the cookies and Sandy is always an incentive to behave. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, i use Mperks and am glad that it’s more automatic now! I still need to click the coupons, but the rewards are automatic — which is fabulous!

    [Reply]

    Kristina R Reply:

    I thought the coupons were automatic, too! Well, the automatic rewards are nice, anyway.

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    Some of the coupons are automatic if you enroll in automatic clipping. They choose some items that they think you may be interested in.
    It’s saved me some too, since I consider mperks as a bonus and don’t base any of my shopping off of them. I spend more when I try to buy deals because I buy thing we don’t need on top of our need.
    I shop at 3 grocery stores. Aldi, Costco, and Meijer. But usually I only hit 1-2 a week and hit the others the following weeks.
    Family Fare is a regular too when I am in town on Monday and need 1 or 2 items. I sometimes wonder if I shopped just at Family’s fare if I would save more because I would impulse buy less.
    And if desperate measures call, I go to the local gas station since the groceries stores are all 7+ miles from my house in the country.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — i hear you about spending MORE just trying to get a dumb deal!
    I have the same theory for mPerks — it’s great, but I don’t base my shopping list or meal plan around it!

    [Reply]

  15. Leigh

    02/08/2017

    Meijer came to Chicago just before we left and I miss them. But our new place has a later preschool endtime which means I can make it through the every two week Costco run with just the baby. With four kids Costco quantities make it worth the late start. But the day they had a special mom event and opened at nine was amazing.
    We do Trader Joe’s every two or three weeks for our favoruites, smaller quantities, and more produce. We can get that in after dropping the big kids off at elementary school and before morning preschool (love an 8am opening)
    About once a month we need something from a conventional store, which means either rolling that into a Target trip or HyVee (which delivers free when you buy $100 and I will totally use that).
    We also hit Aldi maybe once a month when we need cheap staples or their take and bake pizza. My husband often does this on his way home from work or I do after preschool drop off.

    [Reply]

  16. Heidi

    02/08/2017

    Depending upon our schedule and what I need to buy, we alternate between Walmart online ordering and our local Food Lion.

    [Reply]

  17. Michelle

    02/08/2017

    Your first paragraph is exactly how I feel about taking my kids to the store. They are fine and I can do it, but it’s way more difficult. I do end up shopping at night a lot when my husband is home but I do find myself rushing also to get back home and have “me time”!. I also had a Costco membership and I really like their clothing and some of the food items. But the hours are terrible for the same reasons you mentioned, plus it is a good 15 minutes away from my house and so it just doesn’t happen. It’s funny how my shopping changed now with 3, with 2 I still pretty regularly took them to the store. But with 3, there is less room in the cart, 2 sets of older hands that want to grab and look at everything plus now I try to plan better and buy a lot more at once so there is a longer period of time between shopping days. Sometimes my cart is so full with diapers and toilet paper that NO kids would fit in it!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES!
    Also, I should mention that I get my diapers and wipes through Grove.co online. They ship them to my door every month so I never need to worry about fitting those in my cart. Plus, Simon is potty trained now so that’s a lot fewer diapers I need to buy!

    [Reply]

  18. Jen

    02/08/2017

    We’ve lived in Maryland for 15 years and I still cannot get over missing Meijer. It’s the best! And the ones in Grand Rapids are, hands down, better than those elsewhere. I’m just a little jealous! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I always joke that the 3 reasons we stay in West Michigan are: 1. all our family lives here, 2. We love our house, 3. Meijer 🙂

    [Reply]

  19. Jaime

    02/08/2017

    I used to shop primarily at Kroger. The closest Meijer is about 15 minutes away and Kroger is only about 5 minutes away. However, a friend told me about mperks coupons and rewards and I haven’t looked back since. The store is much cleaner, the workers friendlier, and the prices, especially on sale items, are so much better at Meijer.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, there are actually some pretty great coupons and ‘rewards’ with Mperks — and since we use a Meijer credit card, we get even more “perks”, including $10 off our order every time we spend a certain amount on our credit card! Meijer is awesome!

    [Reply]

  20. Joy

    02/08/2017

    We don’t have a Meijer but we have a Hy-Vee. I shop for my mom there and they have everything. Some have suggested there are cheaper places but the fact that I can get everything in one spot (pharmacy, toiletries, everything) makes it worth it. I still try and use some coupons when I can and they do the gas points also.

    [Reply]

    PW Reply:

    I hate grocery shopping it takes so much time by the time you drive there, go thru the store, drive home, lug in the groceries, unpack everything and put it away. I consider all of that part of my grocery shopping time. Including waiting in line for check out. And that is why I don’t go to Meijer here in Chicago area. Honestly I have stood in line for 20 min. it is horrible. Yes the store is nice, big and covers all bases and pricing good. But I can’t stand the line wait. Just awful and stressful, after work or on a Sat. morn. So I shop at Whole Foods-we buy a lot of organic, Fresh Thyme, Mariano’s (soon to be a Krogers). It is such a time consuming endeavor and then I have to pay to be aggrevated. Hate it. Tried to see if a grocery store had the order ahead then pick up at drive thru but none here except Pea Pod which I an considering. We like fresh produce (not frozen) and fresh fruit and organic meat and when we moved we did not replace our freezer, so I am trying out other options. Hate grocery shopping. Time eater.I am within walking distance to an Aldi’s and take my backpack as much as I can after work or on weekends.

    [Reply]

    Jenny Reply:

    We just got a Mariano’s! Are they changing to Krogers?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I will say that Meijer checkout lanes can be long here too — but they usually keep them moving pretty quickly. However, if I go early in the morning or after the kids are in bed, there is usually never a line (which is another reason I like to go after the kids are sleeping).

    [Reply]