Taking back control of the chaos
If you have mouths other than your own to feed, then you probably struggle with the behemoth task of taking all the kids with you while you do the grocery shopping. I used to try being organized before I got to the store, but, honestly, I mostly made up a list in my head, followed a budget that can only be classified as "fingers crossed” and would end up with numerous sugary items in my cart when I wasn’t paying attention. This used to leave me frustrated, fed up and usually without enough items to put together one complete meal.
I started thinking about ways to make my life easier, and with 3 kids and a traveling spouse, I needed help fast! I came up with a few ways that have eased the blow of this dreaded weekly task, helped me save money, keep my sanity and keep my hair from turning completely gray.
1. Make a list. I'm serious. Make one. I have this great app that coordinates my husband’s requests, and integrates with my phone and computer. By using the app to organize your list, it’s impossible to leave home without it, it can updated throughout the week by simply mentioning it to your smart watch, or opening the app on your phone, computer or Ipad. It really is a piece of cake.
2. Make your kids help. If you notice the photo above, I have one holding the list, the other one is the “getter of items only on the list”, and the other one, well, she is making farting noises with her hand. Pure entertainment.
3. Buy only what is on your list. This is how my kids know that I’m serious about my list.... if it's not on the list, and I cannot justify it for something specific, then it does not go in the cart. This saves time and money (and also avoids the whiny begging that erupts as soon we hit the cereal aisle.) Trust me. Do it. Stick to it. Be strong. You will remember next time if you forget once
4. Make grocery shopping a shared family responsibility. Try to get everyone involved; this doesn't have to be solely your responsibility. (You should see my previous blog post about my children packing their own lunches.) My kids get the opportunity to add things to the list before we get to the store and those items (once approved by me) get purchased and packed in their lunches. That's it. There is no reason to be negotiating while standing in the processed donut aisle. No reason at all.
When you are done shopping, check out, load the car, drive home, and unload the car. This one is pretty simple, but my point is that my kids help with every step. (Ok.... maybe not the driving part). My kids know that when we get home, they have to unload and put away the groceries. This doesn't have to be all you. I even have my 3 year old put away the toilet paper rolls in to each bathroom or separate out the applesauce and granola bar bins for her lunch box choices. Everybody eats the food; therefore everyone participates in shopping and putting away.
Keep in mind, I am sharing this scenario from the perspective of my husband not participating. He gets off easy with this chore, because he travels a lot for work. So Saturday mornings, before sports, is my shopping zone. We go, we do it, it's over. When he is able to help, it makes things go much smoother throughout the aisles, but the challenges arise when he decides he wants riblets’ for dinner and I have to pry the “hungry-man” out of his hands. I always give him the courtesy of asking if he wants to add anything to the list before we get to the store. I try to hold him and myself to the same list rule. It really does keep the bill low and the experience less stressful.
I hope these tips gave you a bit of inspiration to tackle that supermarket task with ease. Good luck, and if you are solo-parenting grocery shopping, may God have mercy on your soul.