Monday, February 7, 2011

Shopping Savvy

There are many more fun things to do in life than grocery shopping.  The art of Savvy Shopping is an easy way to stretch your budget, and is another TIME TAMING TECHNIQUE.

Choose one day a week to shop. Remember, the best way to save money at the shops is to stay away. Once a week is better than once a month because running out of sugar is a minor inconvenience for a day or so at the end of the week. On the other hand, running out of sugar for a week at the end of the month can be rather challenging.

Follow these easy steps to learn the art of Savvy Shopping. 

STEP ONE - all week
Keep a running list of essential items that you run out of. My list is on a pretty wooden memo block in my kitchen. Train your family to write up that peanut butter, borax for the science project, or whatever else they need. If it's on the list I will buy it on Shopping day. If my family forget to write it, I forget to buy it. They remember next time. It has to be empty, or almost finished, to be written up. If we already have two bottles of shampoo and my darling daughter desires a different brand, she will need to develop the art of Delayed Gratification and wait a while before I will buy a new bottle.

STEP TWO - the day before shopping day
Take a quick visual tour of  your bathroom, fridge, pantry, and vegetable patch (if you have one) the day before you shop.  Are you running our of toothpaste? What needs using the most? Look for the oldest things in your fridge and freezer. I mean, not scary potential microscope specimens, but what has been there for the longest time. Do you have a glut of marrows or tomatoes in the garden? Do you have a bit of leftover meat from a BBQ?

STEP THREE - still the day before shopping day
Look at your diary, and your plans for the week. Are you having a date night out where your kids can survive on a simple dinner, like dippy eggs? Is Granny coming to stay for a few nights? Jot down ideas in your diary for breakfast, lunch and supper on each day up until the next shopping day. Remember to plan the first few meals using those urgent items from STEP TWO, and try to plan meals using as much of what is in your freezer / pantry as possible. Remember to plan some meals as LEFTOVER PLAN-OVERS. How about a pasta dish made with diced meat from that BBQ and a tomatoey sauce from that glut in your garden. Jot down special instructions in your diary, like "defrost chicken" the day before you plan to serve it for Sunday roast, or "soak beans" the day before you plan to try out my delicious BUSTING BUTT BAKED BEANS.

STEP FOUR - again the day before shopping day
Add to your list from STEP ONE: any missing ingredients needed for the meals you have planned as well as bathroom or cleaning items that need replenishing. Group similar items together on your list - fruit and veg, meat, dairy, cleaning materials, etc. The goal is to see how few items you can put on your list, and still feed your family well.

STEP FIVE - Shopping Day
Make sure you and your children are well fed. I like to shop after lunch. Grab your trolley, with your list and pen in hand. If your kids are joining you and are big enough, let them push it or run to find items on your list. I prefer to shop while they are doing music lessons. Whizz up and down the aisles grabbing only the items on your list, and cross them off as you toss them in the shopping cart. See how fast you can go. This is the reason for grouping similar items in STEP FOUR. The faster you go, the less you are tempted. Think of it as a replacement aerobic workout, get that heart pumping. Play fast music on your ipod if you're alone. Lifting bags of groceries strengthens those biceps. I have been known to do a few extra lifts when I think no one is watching me.

STEP SIX - Shopping Day
MAKE THE MILEAGE MATTER. Use your shopping day to run errands, fill your car with fuel so that it runs on full instead of empty, visit the post office, pharmacy and the library. In Summer it's best to make shopping the last errand of the day so the ice-cream doesn't melt.

STEP SEVEN - After shopping
Unpack the bags as soon as you walk in the door. Put your feet up alongside your man, if he is home. Enjoy a delicious, refreshing cool-drink or cocktail and take a well deserved rest before tackling dinner.

No thinking is required. Just open your diary each day and cook whatever is on that day's menu. If something else crops up, like your husband surprises you with take-aways, or you are invited out, or it is too hot for the cooked meal you had planned, then be flexible and go with the flow. You can smile sweetly knowing that you have enough meals to cover your week, and now, maybe a few for the following week too.

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