PC: Huffington Post
A new baby is a lot of work. Whether it's your first or your fifth, there's no getting around that. Hopefully there's a lot of help around, but it's still good to streamline everything you possibly can, because you still have to do all the things you used to, on top of taking care of the new addition.
There are a ton of ways to cut down on time and budget wisely, but I'm here to offer my expert
advice on how to do both with that pesky weekly task that never goes away: grocery shopping.
Here is a plan that will cut your normal routine down, money and time wise.
Step One: Budget
First off, start by making a budget. It's stressful to look at what's coming in and what needs to go out, but it's the best way to keep yourself from having to figure out how you’re going to afford diapers or formula last-minute. There are some really great articles on how to create a budget out there, but the most important part of budgeting is to stick to your plan. As long as you do this, everything will fall into place.
Step Two: Meal Planning
Once you’ve got your budget in place, you’d think the next step would be grocery shopping, right? Not quite. If you want to save time (and money) it’s actually quite logical to add the step of meal planning to your routine. An extra bonus is that you’re likely to eat healthier when you map out your week of food. Emily Rampton is a meal planning pro, and she suggests setting aside 30 minutes a week to map out meals, and says it’s best to start simple.
A couple of my tips are to try and find several different meals that utilize the same ingredients so you can pare down your grocery list. You can alternate between chicken, ground beef, or a pork loin in so many ways, it's likely you can get through a whole week of dinner with only two or three types of meat. Also, if you want to make a recipe that utilizes something like fresh basil and you know you won’t need the entire bunch, try to find one or two more recipes that utilize that ingredient, but are different enough to not make your routine monotonous.
Step Three: Make A List
Now that you’ve got a menu planned, it’s time to make your shopping list. It really makes for a quick trip if you wrote out your menu to match the way you navigate the store. If you start in produce, write all your fruits and veggies first. Then, visualize the rest of the store and continue your list accordingly.
This will keep you from zig-zagging the aisles several times to make sure you’ve got everything on your list, and it will get easier each time. Also, make sure to double check your menu and recipes to make sure you won’t need to make any surprise trips for that one ingredient you just can’t do without.
Step Four: Couponing
Couponing can save money, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming. There’s no need to sweat trying to find every coupon you can, or trying to find a coupon for everything you buy. Just keep an eye out for coupons you can use in places you normally are, like magazines, newspapers, or even your inbox. There are also websites and mobile apps that allow you to quickly search out coupons for the things you need.
It helps save time to do this step after making a grocery list, because you won’t be tempted to buy things you don’t need just because you can save a few cents. There are also tons and tons of coupons for baby items out there, which will allow you to test out different brands to find the ones you like without spending a ton of money. But, don’t stop at just the coupons themselves, because you can get so much more for your money. It doesn’t take much time to make the most of coupons by stacking, combining, or price matching. This beginner’s guide to couponing can help you learn these tricks without delving too deep.
Step Five: Food Prep
The shopping part is simple, you’ve got that down by now, but you can save time throughout the week if you take an hour or two after you get home from the store to do food prep for the week. Separate out larger packs of meat into the portions you need for each meal, and freeze whatever you won’t be using.
Chopping veggies is my least favorite part of food prep, so I do to all at once on grocery day. Chop everything up and divide it into zipper sealed bags or containers according to which meal it's needed for. You can also organize your fridge so that different meal items are all in the same place. It will be so much easier to make dinner if all you have to do is grab all the ingredients and throw them in a pot or pan. I am also a big fan of the crockpot, just FYI.
Hopefully these tips will help you streamline your grocery shopping process so that you can devote as much time to the new addition (or, you know, to sleep…) If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments!