My son is a picky vegetarian/vegan so finding fresh items, in bulk, does not work for him. I had to find local farmers, vendors that not only grow their own food but allowed us to visit often. Then finding a farm that is less than several hours away was another challenge. The other children, while not as picky as the vegetarian, also have their required dietary needs. I have a son that was born with brittle bones disease, so finding any way to bring in extra calcium in his diet is a must. Then there is my asthmatic child whose allergies seem to trigger her wheezing. So finding the gluten-free items....ugh.
Do you understand how difficult marketing became when I had no clue what gluten-free, vegetarian kid-friendly food would be? How much the cost would increase or decrease by using all organic products?
The first thing everyone says, when recognizing our large family, is that we should shop in bulk stores like Sam's club, Costco, BJ's, etc. Well, that is true but how we shop in those locations is what matters. We use those warehouse type of stores to purchase items we go through in masses like toilet paper, trash bags, paper towels and laundry detergent. I promise you with as many bottoms as we have, this is well worth the once a month trip. We also use these type of stores for shelf safe items like pancake mix, flour, granola bars, rice, etc.
We started shopping at the local Aldi's and farmer's markets. And boy did we find amazing deals! The only thing I had to do is let go of the familiar name brand items. The big brands are not sold here and for a while, that bothered me. But after trying some items, and returning others, I realized the only differences were the name of the product and the price point. This tip has saved me 25-45% on my grocery bill.
After many trials, I have this portion down to a well-planned event. The thing is not to limit our shopping to one market and go early (8am) to beat the rush and get the freshest fruits/vegetables.
So, it began. Creating the list of items that would last for approximately 28 days. I begin making a list of all of the staple objects in the house that we need. Then, I need to pull all the market circulars in my area. Thankfully, I have a lot of grocery stores connected via apps on my phone. I add the online coupons to the member cards to minimize the number of items I need to carry. (whoever invented these apps...I LOVE YOU!)
I came across another bit of heaven when I found out some of the grocery stores will pull your items and deliver to your front door!! Amazon, Instacart, Wholefoods, Harris Teeter and FreshDirectare a few of the online grocery stores that will pick, pull and some even deliver (some have a small delivery fee but its so worth it) Wait...do you understand what that means for busy moms!! We will no longer have to make the "mom speech"? OH, HAPPY DAY!! The "don't ask for anything while we are here because we are sticking to the list" speech. There will no longer be an isle with kids falling on the floor crying because mom said no. Asking someone to watch the minis while I go to the store.... is no longer a cuss word!
I realized making a budget and shopping list can be uneventful and stress-free if you stick to a couple major points:
- Shop for what you need once a month-make the bulk purchases count
- Make the pricey items low on the priority list when a budget is tight - instead of a t-bone, find a less pricer cut of beef
- Keep pantry items stocked-rice, flour, sugar, oils, seasonings
- Create a budget/grocery list and stick to it
- If you have to go to the grocery store, in person, get to know your produce person and cashier. They can let you know about the delivery dates for fresh produce and keep you posted on new sale items.
- Never...EVER....go to the store on an empty stomach! lol....my grandmother used to say this to me and I never understood why until I did and came home with so many items that were not on the list.....ugh
Whether you have a large family or just a pet goldfish, listen to your family, friends and even neighbors when seeking deals or finding ways to cut costs. There are many other tricks that we have stumbled on along the way and continue to find ways to make it work.