photo by Cindy Kalamajka
Shopping with three little ones. It’s doable. You can make it fun.
If you’re like me though, you would much rather take them to the park or sit on the couch together with a stack of books.
Unless you live on a self-sustainable farm or can afford a personal shopper (wouldn’t that be nice?!) trips to the store are a necessity. My goal is to make them as rare as possible. Even if you don’t have little ones, spreading out the shopping trips saves money by avoiding impulse purchase. Here are ten tips for lengthening the time between treks.
- Keep your pantry stocked: Instead of waiting ’til you’re scraping out the last bit of peanut butter, keep several jars on hand and rotate them. Don’t have a pantry? There are many other creative ways to store food.
- Make a menu using common ingredients you keep on hand: find your family’s favorite meals and keep the staples for fixing them well stocked.
- Plan ahead: Do you entertain often? Pick a few meals that you like serving to guests and keep the pantry or freezer stocked with ingredients to make them. Will you need to bring food to a baby or wedding shower? Pick out a few recipes that you enjoy bringing to events and (you guessed it!) keep the ingredients on hand.
- Keep a running list: As soon as you start to run low on an item, add it to the list. Before heading to the store, make sure your husband isn’t almost out of shaving cream.
- Substitute: Out of eggs? A tablespoon of flax or soy flour mixed with a tablespoon of water works in baked goods. No oil? Try substituting applesauce or yogurt. Here’s a detailed list.
- Check expiration dates in the store: The difference between one dozen eggs’ expiration date and the next can be weeks.
- Keep the expiration date in mind at home: Some foods spoil quickly. Some don’t. Eggs, potatoes, apples, Romaine lettuce, citrus fruits, etc. can keep for at least two weeks properly stored. Eat the fresh food that spoils more quickly first and then rotate to longer keeping foods.
- Utilize your freezer: Many perishable foods can be frozen, including milk. We don’t like thawed milk as much as fresh, but I’ll use it to make yogurt for breakfast smoothies or to serve with granola. If you run out of fresh fruits and veggies use frozen.
Be creative: Out of numerous basics? Search for recipes using what you do have.
- Share the load: Have a friend or neighbor that also has small kids (or just doesn’t *love* shopping)? On their shopping day see if they could pick up a gallon of milk or other item you need to prolong your trip and then return the favor when you’re shopping.
These ideas work for me. What about you? Do you space your trips out as far as possible?