by Jessica from Wisconsin
Being a mom requires mastering the skill of balance! This is particularly evident when it comes to taking care of one of the most prominent family tasks: grocery shopping.
While grocery shopping can feel like a chore, I have worked hard to find a rhythm with it that allows me to simultaneously satisfy my need for self-care and for meeting my family’s needs.
Choose Your Time
My first step in taking charge of grocery shopping for my family has been choosing a time once per week when I know I can dedicate the time and energy to getting the job done. I, personally, choose Friday mornings because I don’t work that day, and my kids are at school. This helps me to avoid mid-week chaos and skip the busy 5 pm rush after work, and it allows me to go by myself – something that helps me to avoid impulse spending to placate my kids. It also allows me to take one hour of calm and quiet and just exist outside of the needs of anyone else in the world.
As someone who not only is a parent but also works in an emotionally demanding career field, this is an integral part of my grocery shopping process - my Friday ritual. As soon as I enter the store, I put in my earbuds and listen to either my favorite music or my current audiobook of choice. There is an impressive amount of recharging that can happen in that one hour, a single hour that can improve my mood and decrease my stress levels.
Have a Plan
My other priority for grocery shopping is saving money. For my family, spending less at the grocery store means that we can take care of other important needs or even have the luxury of tucking money away in savings in case of unexpected costs or emergencies. One way I do this is by planning our meals in advance and making my shopping list from the meal plan. This allows me to reduce the number of impulse purchases I make and helps me to stay organized all week by having my list of dinner ideas already in place. This works especially well when I incorporate meals that utilize a single ingredient more than once, such as buying rice to cook for a stir fry one night and using the leftovers to mix into a filling for baked zucchini boats another evening.
In a similar way, I utilize my favorite grocery store’s discount bins to supplement my grocery list for the items that can be more flexible, such as which fresh fruit I buy per week or which type of meat we use for tacos. I often buy their reduced-cost bags of fruit and then wash and freeze the fruit to save for smoothies or homemade fruit sauce for pancakes.
Even though grocery shopping for a family can be overwhelming, devoting a few minutes of planning in advance can help save time, money, and, frankly, one’s sanity.
About Jessica. . .
I am a mother to five children, ages ranging from 4 up to 23. I am a teacher at a non-profit agency working in an alternative education program, and I love getting to incorporate life skills into my work with my students. When not working, I love cooking, baking, working out, getting outside (especially gardening!), and reading.
Want more grocery shopping ideas? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Maximizing Food Dollars. Find it in Planning Simple Meals And Snacks category!