By: Kristi Goode
I've accumulated several good tips for a successful shopping trip. As per my previous post, I am a perimeter shopper. I’ve established this routine over the years based upon my shifts in eating healthier, and purchasing healthier items for myself and family. Since we live less than five miles from Kroger, Wal-Mart, and a Shop and Save, I tend to shop weekly. However, I purchase meats two or three times a week. I don’t like freezing meat until I’ve cooked it in a recipe. Then, I freeze it for quick lunches or meals later in the month. (More on my freezer storage meals in a later post.) Here's a few tips for how I plan my shopping trip:
1. Plan ahead! Before heading to the grocery store, I make a list. I keep a running list day to day on my phone, and note when I run out of an item or need something for a new recipe. If you don't write it down as soon as you see the need, you'll forget. I promise!
2. Coupons and sales. I always look for coupons in our Sunday paper or I download coupons from the Kroger app. This is very helpful and part of planning ahead. You can see what proteins and fresh or seasonal fruits and vegetables are on sale. For example, butternut squash is typically more expensive in the summer, unless you spot a sale! Now, you can plan your meals accordingly after looking for the sales. Some find that making a meal plan chart is a great way to organize and plan meals for the week. You can develop your own system, or look for my organizational shopping chart in an upcoming blog.
3. Check the app. If I’m looking for a particular item or want to know the nutrition facts, I can pull up the item via the store app and check before I go. The app doesn't always indicate availability, but will show if that particular store carries the item your looking to buy.
4. Shop once! I suggest creating a system to grocery shop once a week. Especially for busy families. Build your list around proteins (you can chose one or two for the week), non starchy and starchy vegetables, and sides such as white or brown rice, or beans such as black or kidney. Frozen vegetables are a great option too! Also, you can plan a few "easy" meals for busier nights.
5. Family Planning. Don't forget to let all family members make suggestions, too. This is a great way to get kids involved.
6. Leftovers. Double or triple the recipes to have leftovers for everyone's lunch the next day. By Friday you can even make Bento boxes for everyone to have a mixture of leftovers from the week.
7. Times. Try to shop early in the day when items are restocked and it’s less crowded. It’s hard to look for items and check the ingredients with crowds. (I always feel like I’m in the way!) While staff are restocking, this is a great time to and ask for help if you can't find a particular item. There may be more items in the back, or you may learn they no longer carry that particular item.
8. Get to know the staff. They can help you find items and are much happier to help when they recognize repeat customers. They are usually knowledgeable about their products, or know where to find the answer. I have purchased items that were spoiled once I got home, (like avocados-they can be expensive!). And upon my next visit the department managers have replaced it with no question.
9. Bulk. I don’t buy too much in bulk because it can be more expensive in the long run, depending on the product and expiration date. This is something you have to assess based on your family size & budget.
10. Check-out. Some stores have scanners that allow you to scan your items and bag them as you go. Then you can check out faster via the self-checkout lanes.
11. Order Ahead. I’ve never ordered my groceries ahead because I’m fairly particular, but this can be a great option! That said, I have many friends who order their groceries online and then pick-up. They say that it is very convenient for busy lifestyles and families. It will keep you organized and deter you from adding "extra" items into your cart, if you go inside. I think this is also a great plan for shopping on a budget!
This is how I successfully plan my shopping trips around my meals. Stay tuned for my tips for storing products after grocery shopping.
Here's more tips I follow when shopping at Kroger.