Grocery Store Prep | Stores, Timing, & Lists!

I know that grocery shopping is different for everybody. It can be annoying and stressful for some while others look forward to going. I enjoy going as long as I have a list, know the sales and coupons, and can go at a slower time. Finding the best solution will take time.

First, you have to decide on what store/stores you’ll go to. There are local grocery chains, big box stores, food delivery services, and Amazon Pantry/Grocery. In a 10-mile radius from home, there are 5 Kroger’s, 2 Wal-Mart/Wal-Mart Marketplaces, 3 Food Lions, 1 Aldi’s, 1 Sam’s Club, and 1 Costco. I chose to go with Kroger Marketplace and Costco for the following reasons.

Kroger

  1. They get the produce first (so it’s out earlier)
  2. They are more updated in their preorder kiosks (I can multi-shop)
  3. They have more items on sale
  4. The rewards points/savings work at the gas station, giving us up to a dollar off per gallon of gas
  5. They are bigger and cleaner

Costco

  1. They have more produce and meat (by a landslide)
  2. They have more dry good brands

Second, know your times. When trying to decide on what grocery store to use, I will shop on three different days, between three different times, and ask three different cashiers when the store is the busiest. I will also look at the sale flyers and see how long sales last. At this point, I know when I’ll most likely leave less overwhelmed and get the best deals.

For example, in the Fort Gordon area, the best times to go are Tuesday or Thursday (between 12:45PM and 2:00PM) and on Saturday (anytime between 10:00AM and 1:00PM). I try my hardest to avoid going to any store on Sunday and Monday.

Third, meal plan and know what you need. Going with a well thought out list (and sticking to it) will save you a surprising amount of money. Between meal planning and sticking to the list, we have cut our monthly grocery budget by 40%.

Meal Plan

Through trial and error, we found meal planning 2 weeks at a time works best for us. We sit down a few days before I go to the grocery store and decide what meals we’ll have. Everything gets written out—including going out for dinner, leftovers, and “fend for yourself” nights.

FYI: There is a post coming soon about how to meal plan/prep!

List Making

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Grocery List

Because we meal plan every 2 weeks, I only go to Costco once a month and Kroger twice a month. To help us keep track of what we run out of (or are close to running out of), there is a small dry erase board on our fridge. We put everything from eggs, milk, and snack foods to paper goods on the board. If it’s not on the list, it does NOT go in the cart.

The first trip for the month, is to both Costco and Kroger. This is the longest grocery outing for the month clocking in at 2.5-3 hours. This includes driving and loading/unloading the groceries. Here is a very general description of what we get during trip #1.

Costco (* buying every other month or as needed)

  1. Paper goods*
  2. Detergents*
  3. Soap*
  4. Meat/ Poultry
  5. Some dry goods
    1. Popcorn
    2. Chips/Crackers*
    3. Granola bars*
    4. Bread/Biscuits
    5. Peanut butter*
    6. Block/Shredded Cheese*
    7. Stick butter

Kroger

  1. Produce
  2. Deli Meat
  3. Fish
  4. Dry goods
  5. Dairy
  6. Snacks
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After trip 1 Costco and Kroger

Trip 2 happens halfway through the month, is only to Kroger, and takes about an hour.  Again, this includes driving and loading/unloading. Unless there is a holiday weekend or get together, the end of the month is pretty predictable and looks something like this:

  1. Produce
  2. Dairy (milk and yogurt)
  3. Dry Goods (usually cereal and pretzels)
    1. Pretzels tend to go on sale the second half of the month (5 bags for $5) so I’ll stock up then, if we need them

Lastly, when creating the list, I write in the order of the store layout.

Produce–>Deli–>Dry Goods–>Fridge/Freezer–>Misc.

This helps me to stay on track because I’m able to go straight to the sections without having to stop and think about what’s next. I just grab, check off, and go.

For a peek at my big Costco/Kroger haul, watch my Instagram story below!

alaina

SERIES INTRODUCTION | Room by Room: Organization

SERIES ALERT! During the month of July, Thursdays will be dedicated to organizing room by room.

Organizing, in general, can be very overwhelming and can get out of control very quickly. I’ve learned that the best thing you can do is go room by room, starting with the most used spaces. Initially, this might take a little longer, but will ultimately be faster and keep you motivated.

Because I am a visual person, I write down every room and the main areas within that need to be organized. I keep this list fairly general, but feel free to make this as detailed as you want. After I have assessed each room, I will give it a dedicated day.

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My checklist of rooms and what needs to be addressed. After all the sub-sections are checked off, the top room box can be, too, and I know to move on.

In every room, I will organize, quickly wipe down, and determine what needs to be washed, tossed, and thoroughly cleaned. I do NOT vacuum, dust, or clean at this stage, I’ll come back later on and clean as the cleaning schedule dictates. (Click here to learn the schedule and get the free printable!)

Note that some days may take an hour to get through, while others may take an entire day. Regardless, I HIGHLY suggest only completing one room a day so that you don’t get overwhelmed and burnt out. After the room is completed, go do something fun!

I mentioned earlier that, initially, it may take a longer than your standard organization. This is because, if you’re anything like me, items will have traveled and need to be returned to their room, you’ll need to toss things, really clean a few items, or simply just get used to the idea of getting organized. The first room might take a full day, but each room after that should decrease in time.

I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details in the weeks to come. For now, let’s keep this simple. 

  1. Start somewhere. For me, starting with the most used room is easiest because it usually has the least amount of overall pileup, unlike a bedroom or throw space. We all have one of those rooms and for me it’s always the guest room or the office.
  2. Have fun! I blast music like the neighbors want to party or listen to a podcast. This doesn’t need to be boring or torturous.
  3. Get others involved. Once the first thorough organization is complete, I try to organize about every change in season. Being that we move every few years, it’s easier for us to organize thoroughly as we move in. As the one who loves to organize, I tend to take on the brunt of the room by room. There is, however, always part of the day where Mike will go through certain areas (bedroom, kitchen, office, TV console). It usually looks something like this:
    • He’ll remove his trash and/or traveling items. We’ll go through the major areas of concern and decide what will stay/go. I’ll wipe items down and organize.
  4. Take a break. Sometimes there is no getting around being overwhelmed. There are times when I go into a room already overwhelmed, so I’ll set a timer. When the timer dings, I do something different. Get lunch, watch tv, read, go outside, go grocery shopping, etc. I always finish working on the room that day, but taking a few breaks keeps me sane, happy, and motivated.
alaina