I’ll be honest, I did not expect to be writing a blog post about grocery shopping today, but it seems like lately I have been sharing about this topic a lot in my real life so I was inspired this morning to share what I do to simplify grocery shopping.
Call me crazy, but I actually like grocery shopping. I’ve never used anything like ClickList or grocery pick up, although I can definitely see the advantages to using these services, particularly when I have more kiddos in tow in the future. I will say that it always feels like an extra treat when Justin is home and I can go to the store by myself, but it still feels pretty manageable with LJ along. Grocery shopping with a toddler can definitely feel chaotic sometimes so today I thought I’d share just a couple tips that I have to keep it as streamlined and simple as possible.
Side note: Anyone else take their kid to the grocery store in a sleeper? Ha! #noshameinmymomgame
#1: Bring “things” for LJ
We’re still pacifier people around here. It’s 100% fine if you’re not a fan of them or if you think we should have ditched it long ago; you do what works for your family! This is what works for ours. I’m not trying to push pacifiers by any means but since LJ does take one and it is a huge soother for him, I always make sure to have one clipped to him on a pacifier clip. Obviously this isn’t a forever solution but for now it just keeps him happier in the cart. I also try to take a snack along because as he sees me put food into the cart, he always wants some too (I literally have to distract him from looking at the cart anytime I buy bananas until I can hide them under something because he loves them so much and will cry if he sees them and can’t eat one).
When he was a little younger I always took my animal links and hooked them around the cart handle so he had something to play with but now that he’s bigger he’s not interested in that anymore and prefers to people watch or play with something I am going to purchase that is hard to destroy (like a bag of shredded cheese).
#2: OUR GROCERIES APP
You guys. This app was an absolute game changer for my family. Does that sound dramatic? I don’t care. It really has made such a huge difference for us. I am getting zero compensation for this endorsement; I just really really love this app! We used to write stuff down on a physical list. The problem was that sometimes I would be near the grocery store and have time to pop in, but I wouldn’t have my list. Or I would be upstairs and think “we’re running low on toothpaste, I need to remember to put that on the list” and I would completely forget about it by the time I got downstairs. Or Justin would stop by the grocery store without the list and I was working and couldn’t respond to his texts so he wouldn’t know what all we needed. It was so frustrating! Now Justin and I each downloaded this app and and our grocery list game has never been the same. Some of the best features are:
Synced lists. Justin and I both downloaded the app and synced our phones to the same list and this is an AWESOME feature. Justin can add something to the list and I immediately see it on mine. This is so helpful if I’m at the grocery store and he realizes we need something else; he can just add it to the list and I see it! It’s also helpful because we always know what the family needs at any given time. Say I popped into Target to look at swimsuits. Before checking out, I can look at the list and see if we need anything. Oh look, Justin put contact solution on the list! Let me just grab some of that before I leave. It’s so so simple and he didn’t have to remember to tell me that we’re low on contact solution. Or if he is going to have time to stop in the grocery store on the way home, he already has the list and doesn’t have to call me to see if I need anything. We can include specific brands or amounts (such as 2 lbs, 16 oz, etc) if it matters to us so the other person knows exactly what to get. Easy peasy!
A bonus tip with this is sometimes if Justin is stopping at the grocery store and I just want him to pick up ingredients for dinner, I’ll put an * in front of the item. This way, he doesn’t spend time getting everything on the list but just gets what I’ve marked for that evening.
Multiple Lists. I can keep a running list of things I like to buy at other stores. For example, there are some things I love from Trader Joe’s, but we don’t have one in our city. Anytime we’re in a city with a Trader Joe’s, I like to pop in and stock up on a few favorite things (I’m looking at you, cookie butter). I just keep that list separate so whenever I’m in a TJ I don’t have to try to remember all my favorite things; they are already on the list! I do this with Costco too because even though we have one nearby, I probably only stop in maybe once every 6-8 weeks and stock up, so it helps to have my basic list always prepared. You can make a list for anything! Maybe you want to keep a running list of clothing you need to buy for your kids or items you need to purchase for a vacation; you can just add a different shopping list and then you can keep things like new tennis shoes separate from your grocery list. I love this feature!
My list is always nearby. I don’t know if I can blame mom brain on this one because I was like this before LJ, but I find it so dang difficult to remember something I need to put on the grocery list if I don’t write it down immediately. I’ll know we need toothpaste when I’m in our master bath upstairs and the second I start walking downstairs it just floats out of my brain. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing, my smartphone is almost always nearby so now if I see we need toothpaste, I can put it on the list when I first notice it in our bathroom and then I don’t have to remember for later. Or if I’m out and about and think “I need to remember to get LJ a new swimsuit for our vacation,” I can put it on the list right away. It takes away the pressure of having to hold all these items in my brain which is so nice!
Record of crossed off items. A difference with using this app vs. just notes on your phone is that the app keeps track of your crossed out items. When I buy something, I just tap the word and it moves from my list to the “crossed off” section beneath my list. Then if I need that item again, I can just click it in the crossed off section and it jumps back into my list. This keeps me from having to type/delete each item every time and even though that’s a pretty small, simple thing, it is super easy and convenient!
We only have the free basic app and haven’t paid for any of the upgrades but I know there are ways to make this list even easier (you can synch with Alexa so she can add to your list, you can add pictures, use barcode scanner, etc). Even just the basic app has made such a big difference for us!
#3: Stick to the same stores
I pretty much rotate between two grocery stores for 99% of my shopping. I love Aldi for all my basic grocery needs and go there the most frequently, but I also love going to a store called Fresh Thyme (which reminds me of a Trader Joe’s) for produce and inexpensive natural, healthy options. I know where everything is in both these stores and so I don’t waste time backtracking or searching or debating brands. It just makes the process quicker and smoother! Plus Fresh Thyme has a little stand where kids can get one piece of fruit for free while shopping so LJ is extra happy there with his free banana. 🙂
I will say that I do end up at Wal-Mart sometimes too because Aldi and Fresh Thyme are smaller stores and don’t always have super specific items and it always takes me longer at Wal-Mart because I’m not as familiar with where everything is.
#4 Keep my car ready
Since Aldi requires a quarter to rent a carts, I always have a quarter ready to go in a little holder in my car. I also keep all my reusable grocery bags behind the passenger seat. It just is so easy to grab a few bags and my quarter without having to rummage around in my car.
And that’s it! None of these tips are particularly earth-shattering but they all have helped keep grocery shopping a simple, enjoyable experience rather than a chaotic and stressful mess.
What helps you with keeping grocery shopping simple?