It’s a new month and so many folks have asked me, this month, how on earth we feed a family of ten as the price of food goes up and up and up… and the easy answer is we plot and plan a fair bit. To be honest shopping is about my worst activity ever. I hate all the decision making and it is not just the number of products available that leaves me overwhelmed, it is the “specials” that completely floor me: When you want to buy a handful of tomatoes and you are faced with rows and rows of “Buy Two Bags and get the Third Bag Free” or “Buy These Four Bags and A Bunch of Carrots then only pay for Two.” The point is the option I was after, a handful of tomatoes, say, is hardly ever an option in the “specials department.” That being said, the father person does most of our shopping, he is far better at assessing and seeing through a pricing scam than I am. When I do shop I have a good idea of what I am after before I go into the store, and I don’t waver from my list.
Grocery Shopping Cons That We Believe
- Keep Your Store-Cupboard Lean: I am not a celebrity chef and I don’t need to keep a list of fundamental ingredients at hand. I like to finish what we have before we buy more. There is nothing worse than adding a new bag of apples to the apple bowl, if there are still two apples lingering from the previous expedition. Those two remaining apples will never get eaten and I refuse to waste food. Also, I can see no reason for storing kilograms of dry goods. For example rice, or like a student friend of mine that always had cans and cans of tuna, I don’t need to store extra stock. There is a perfectly good store cupboard five minutes walk away from home in the form of a supermarket.
- No Need To Stockpile: We don’t live on the prairies, three days drive from the nearest stall… we are in fact very urban and not five minutes away from us not one but two supermarkets. When we stayed overseas, just before we had kids, our kitchen was literally the size of a newspaper… the fridge no bigger than a toaster. You had to buy everything fresh everyday and only what you needed for the day. We liked that and we pretty much live like that now. The store is our pantry, if we need eggs then we buy them, or lemons for that matter. Otherwise we don’t… there is no use always having a bowl of fruit stacked on the table if nobody eats it. When my husband traveled for work we used to shop for the month, it was easier to do one shop together. He doesn’t travel anymore and there is no need for us to shop in advance.
- Buy Bulk and Definitely Don’t Save: This is a little marketing trick that has filtered into all areas of shopping… we have been so well trained into thinking that if you buy the larger product it will naturally be better, and of course so much cheaper. Time and time again we have found this not to be the case at all… really it is often the small packages that end up significantly cheaper per unit price. And as for the huge signs saying “SALE PRICE” splashed all over a product, very often the adjacent product with a lot less drama is the more economical choice. You have to be vigilant and keep an eye on prices.
- Stay Away From Sales: This might seem a little counterintuitive… but generally on sales they are selling products that are end of the run, or things that nobody wanted to buy anyway. Trust me you don’t want to buy it either. You do not need 100 markers that have already run dry, you do not need ten pairs of gym socks because they are on special… especially if you only go to gym twice a week. But what if I went more often, you don’t… keep it honest and leave the socks. Banish all the “What if’s” or “Just in case…” voices in your head. If you have a list when you go to the store I can almost guarantee that nothing on that list will be on the sale table… basically they are getting you to buy stuff that you never wanted or needed to begin with.
- Compare Prices in Store and from Store to Store: Have a good idea about what things cost… we basically shop in three grocery stores and when we are in one we will look at the price of an item… then when we visit the next store and we look at the prices again and we can see if it is a better deal or not. If you are consistent with this you will begin to get a good feel for prices and you will know when one store is charging an unnecessarily high price or not. Just recently butter went up by 25% across the board in all stores… we stopped buying it, and noticed as soon as the price came down in one of the stores… you do need to get a feel for prices.
- Anything Processed Costs More: We don’t buy anything processed. When friends popped in for a soup lunch the other day, they mentioned how quick and easy it was to just heat the bag… no it takes us a little longer to peel our butternuts but then we pop them in the pot and twenty minutes later their is a tasty pot of soup. It takes half an hour to heat and eat frozen chips from the freezer… but if you make potato wedges it takes literally five minutes to slice a couple of potatoes and half an hour later your own potato wedges are made. Why would I pay so much more for potatoes that have been sliced in the store and take just as long to cook as the ones I start from scratch?
- Take-Outs Aren’t Quicker or Healthier: I just can’t give take-outs a place in our budget. The price of a a small serving of say, chicken and chips… times ten (for all of us) and you don’t even have to add in a soda… is way more expensive than going serving the entire family steak and salad. Not to mention, you have no idea what is in that package that is allegedly “chicken and chips.” Even take-outs that appear to be healthier… that fruit juice from the gym food bar… well I could by two litres of pure fruit juice for the same price from the store, without all the added sugar, not to mention filling the cup with ice-cubes first. Take-outs just don’t make any economical sense, ever.
- Rise to the Challenge: When we enter a store we look like a marketers dream… a mother with eight kids is bound to have someone in need of a snack, or someone who can’t resist demanding for all the eye-catching treats at the check out. I have trained my kids to be vigilant in looking for marketing tricks… things in the store that make them want to buy products that they don’t need, that were never on their shopping list anyway. Piles of candy at the till… my kids know that they are being conned… pre-wrapped, pre-packaged anything is bound to be some sort of trick into getting you to part with your hard-earned cash. Master the art of spotting these cons and teach your kids to look out for them… if your kids are like mine they will love looking out for a con and will especially enjoy finding one and telling you all about it.
And the Se7en + 1th:
Hope that helps ease the pain of grocery shopping… just a little bit!!!