One of my weekend pleasures during the school year is food shopping. As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, my wife teaches kindergarten. To help provide some of her required prep time on the weekends, I do the food shopping and prepare the dinner meals for Saturday and Sunday. As part of our shared work arrangement, it works out nicely for us.
I do enjoy doing the food shopping. It is one thing I do not mind spending some money on. I know it will go to a good purpose; feeding our family. Shopping is a challenge. The choices can be overwhelming. I start by being organized. I have a food listing (in a Word doc) with the standard items we purchase in sequence of the local store layout. It took a little thought to put it together the first time, and when the store changes things around, requires some adjustment, but overall it is worth the time spent. I print a blank form to use each week (actually I print several at a time). Dolores and I then go over the weekly circular and check the sale items against our needs. As she goes through the circular, I check off on the form. I have spaces for the once in a while buys, those odd items we get infrequently.
A little short hand coding helps to prepare the listing. The store frequently has sales for “Buy 1, Get 1 Free”. So I’ll mark that item as B1G1. When there is a coupon available, I put a circle around a “C” to remind me to check that I am getting the proper item. It saves a hassle at the check out line. Thus prepared, I can cruise through the aisles, getting what’s on the listing and limiting those extra purchases that the store likes to get you to indulge in.
Comparison shopping is generally a challenge. Item pricing is supposed to help but does not always. Be careful to look for the unit pricing as the key comparison. Pay less attention to the price on the item itself. Coffee for example, comes in the standard one pound cans. But look closer and the actual weight varies from 11.5 OZ, to 12 OZ. to 13 OZ, to 15 OZ. Rarely do you find a legitimate one pound can these days.
If I were ever to win one of those dollar amount shopping sprees, I would be prepared. The smallest items are actually the most expensive comparatively speaking. Olive oil can run as high as hundreds of dollars per gallon. Spices can run several hundreds of dollars per pound. The meat and fresh fish are relatively cheap compared to these two.
If one of my daughters comes with me, I’ll use the self-check out line. If alone, it is not worth it, unless I have only a few items. Then the self-check out can be quicker than going through the express lane. If alone, the staffed check out line with the bagger on the end is much more efficient.
Round trip, driving to and from, the list prep, the actual shopping, loading, unloading, and putting the food away can be done inside two hours. It is time I look forward to each weekend.
Where is food shopping on your list of things you enjoy doing?