Braving even the parking lot of a grocery store during the holiday season is enough to make you swear. What about on the inside of the store? Long lines, slow people (I mean really!) and overbuying - all adds up to make you lose that carefully crafted yule-tide spirit. Here are a few tips to keep your sanity:
Start with your list. In short, make your list work for you. Organize your grocery list by the way you go through the store…or at least by category (Produce, frozen, bakery, supplies, dry goods…etc.) Not only will you get in and out of the store faster, but you won’t forget anything. If you fail to plan, your plan will fail.
Check it twice. Before you purchase another jar of poppy seeds - do you have some? Even if you are in and out of your pantry several times a day, refresh your memory before you head to the store. If you need a reminder, leave your keys in the refrigerator the night before a grocery run to remind yourself to check ingredient amounts.
Eat something before you go. This may go without saying, but don’t underestimate the power of grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You’ll end up with items you don’t actually need.
Avoid the Busiest Times. Choosing the right time to shop can make or break your shopping experience. Avoid the weekend shopping trip if possible. The best time? Monday morning. Or try for early in the morning or later in the evening. Just stay out of there between 5-6pm when the masses get off work.
Don’t shop at the last minute. If you wait to do your holiday grocery shopping until the last minute, you’ll be under pressure and will be tempted to purchase things you don’t need, or you might find out the stores have sold out of things you do need.
Know when your favorite stores restock. Don’t go the night before your grocery restocks - you’ll end up needing another trip to the store. In San Rafael, United Markets restocks on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. And orders for Whole Foods come in Tuesday/Thursday.
Don’t take the kids. My kids love to shop. And shouldn’t they? They usually sneak something in the basket that I find at checkout. Leave them behind during the busy season.
Order ahead and order online. Find out if your favorite grocery store delivers - or even utilize Smile.Amazon.com for some staples. I keep almond meal stocked up, for example, from Amazon.
Regardless of how small or large your holiday gathering is, take the stress out of it by planning. Plan your meal, plan your time to shop, plan what to do with your kids while you shop, etc. Then curl up with a cup of coffee or hot tea and... enjoy the holiday.