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How to Fit in Your Supermarket Shop

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 4 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
How To Fit In Your Supermarket Shop

Fitting in the supermarket shop can be difficult for working mums. It's no fun running to the supermarket after a long hard day at work, and it's even less fun dragging fractious, tired children around the shop with you. But food shopping is a necessity not a luxury, so how can you fit it in?

Online Shopping

Online shopping is, arguably, the best way to get the shopping done. Not only does it mean bye-bye to those dreaded trips to the supermarket, but it can also save our sanity and make sure we always have something in the house when we most need it.

While it can appear daunting at first sight, online shopping is not that difficult. Visit a site of a supermarket where you usually shop – Asda, Waitrose, Tesco's, Sainsbury's - and after one or two visits it will be easy peasy. While there is usually a delivery charge to pay, the convenience almost always makes it worth it, as the groceries are literally delivered to your kitchen. However, here are some tips to lower your online food shopping bill:

  • Stock up on bulk, hard-to-carry items such as long-life juice, bottled water, tinned veg etc. It'll make things easier on your back, and also save you from paying inflationary prices at the corner shop when you run out.
  • Buy as much food as you accommodate at one time to save both time and money. If you have a pantry or larder, fill them up with non-perishable items you know you will use.
  • Try not to spend more than you anticipate spending. It's easy to go wild at first, especially as you don't literally see items piling up in your (non-virtual) trolley.
  • Check out all the bogof (buy one, get one free) and other offers first before going to the rest of the site. You'll be surprised how many bargains you can find at one time.
  • Make sure you have a loyalty card and try to stick to one supermarket to get the most from your money.

Smart Supermarket Shopping Trips

If you must actually go to the supermarket in person, here are ways to accomplish a quicker trip, and how to go less often:

  • Make a definitive list and religiously stick to it. That way you'll resist the temptation to both overspend, and to linger in aisles day-dreaming.
  • Leave the kids at home. If you can, get in childcare. If not, go when Dad's at home.
  • Shop at smaller stores. Visit a shop with smaller lay-out that is still good value such as Aldi or Lidl, or visit Tesco Express instead of Tesco.
  • Shop in the evenings or early weekday mornings, avoiding weekends. Hopefully the kids will be in bed by then and you can quickly go on your own. If you don't want to pay for childcare or Dad's away, see if you can go to a work an hour later to do the shopping while the kids are at school.
  • Go with a friend. Make an evening of it with a girlfriend. Have a quick meal first, then enjoy each other's company while you spend.
  • Plan a weekly menu in advance. Knowing exactly what meals you will be preparing can be extremely helpful.
  • Avoid shopping when you're hungry. Having a full stomach is key to not over-spending and getting the job done quickly.
  • Make a larder checklist in advance. Tinned tomatoes and corn – need we say more?
  • Buy in bulk. See what bulk items you are out of, or running short on. Stock up on items that you'll always need, such as toilet paper and kitchen roll.
  • Buy frozen veggies. Great to have on hand in a pinch.
  • Write it down when you're out. Having a good list will stop you from purchasing what you don't really need.
  • Stock up during sales. If you know you'll use it and it's cheap, get it.
  • Clean out the fridge and pantry first. Eat up what you have, this will make more room for fresh items and save you from throwing out good food.

Food shopping is something a lot of us dread, but it doesn't have to be that taxing. Plan carefully in advance to make the most out of every shop and you'll save time, money and aggro!

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All of this makes great sense, and if you can just do a big shop once a week it will fit in more easily with your schedule. Do take a look in the reduced items. These will be close to their sell-by date but there are bargains and you can freeze them.
Chris - 4-Oct-12 @ 9:38 AM
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