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Make Time For Shoping

Updated on May 17, 2008

shopping the right way


Don't you just cringe at those dreaded demands that add one more task to your evening? Finding time to get your shopping done -- whether groceries, household items, clothing or supplies for the kid's latest school project -- seems to challenge even the most energetic parent. Staying on top of the shopping with all the other obligations of each day requires some planning and established routines. Here are three rules that can help.

Rule One: Create a List

Keep one running list of items the family needs: we'll call it the family list. The family list should be kept within easy access -- on your PDA or in a small pocket-size notebook you carry with you. I keep a running list in the front pocket of my planner. That way it is at your fingertips when you (a) discover a new item you need to put on the list or (b) are at the store that supplies it.

In addition to the family list, keep a separate grocery list. Your grocery list should have a posted position in your kitchen. A great place to post it is inside a cabinet or pantry door. Put it up with a clip and stick-on pen with a leash for easy access. A pen that has a leash is essential so that writing down an item is a quick task and does not become a new task called "find a pen."

Create a generic family grocery list by category that contains your typical repeat purchases; this saves having to rewrite them each time. Make and clip up copies of the list using one sheet for each week's shopping trip. Instruct family members to note a grocery item on the list once the item is getting low, not gone. This way you do not have to take inventory before you go to the grocery store or guess what is missing and come home without needed items. If a family member forgets to put his or her favorite cereal on the list, then you will not come home with it. Simple. They quickly learn to jot down the items they want or need. For super-efficient grocery shopping you may want your list to reflect the order of the aisles in your favorite grocery store.

Rule Two: Scheduling

Like any project, waiting until the last minute only brings stress and frustration. Establish a grocery shopping day and time and stick as tightly to that routine as possible. A trip to the grocery more than once a week is a waste of time and energy. A little planning goes a long way here. Take a look at your family calendar and determine which family members will be home for dinner for the week and plan your meals to meet that need. Outside evening activities sometimes keep families from being home for dinner, and a dinner out might be required for a couple days during the week. Make those meals out part of a plan, not an emergency dinner because you didn't have anything planned to make.

Online grocery shopping is an excellent alternative for shopping. Numerous grocery stores have set up programs where you order your groceries online and then simply drive up, hit an alert button and out they come to load your groceries into your car! The program allows you to keep your previous lists online to simplify your shopping the next time. Imagine the time this will save, not to mention the reduced stress of shopping with small children who want all the latest, greatest items.

When scheduling time to shop for items on your family list, match the locations of stores you need to shop to your current calendar. Note the routes you will be traveling this week. You will drop your daughter at ballet class, stop at the library and then pick up your son after band practice. Determine what stores are, or could easily be, in route of your already scheduled routine and note those additional stops you can make. Just make sure enough time has been allotted to accomplish your shopping.

Another alternative is to establish an errand run in the morning or afternoon. Examine where your shopping needs will take you and lay out a route that will efficiently take you to those shopping locations.

Rule Three: Stay Focused

Stores are full of displays and promotions to encourage you to hang around and take a look at all the items for sale. Why do you think that the most commonly purchased items, milk and eggs, are positioned in the back corner of most grocery stores? Because you have to pass the impulse items (in my case, cookies) on your way back there! It is easy to get distracted, and time can fly when you get caught up in the excitement of a sale or in a conversation about the latest and greatest with a good salesperson! Keeping focused is key. You can do this by sticking strictly to the shopping list you created and by staying aware of the time. Set a time for completion of shopping in each store and see how strictly you can stay on it.

By sticking to these three rules you will reduce the stress of squeezing in time to shop and reduce last-minute trips to the store. You'll have time to commit to more important things like spending quality time with your family

woman shopping


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