September 20, 2014

Gargantuan Grocery Gathering - #1

I believe Wal-Mart is a time warp.

Seriously, I can walk in for a couple things, and an hour later I walk out in a daze, trying to figure out where I somehow lost 45 minutes.  And how all this stuff (that was not on my list) got into my cart.  :)

I really do like Wal-Mart, for numerous reasons:  everything in one place (Oil change while getting groceries?  Yes, please!), pretty good prices on most things, and price matching (which is an entire post lurking in the future).  And also to annoy the annoying people who vilify WM for being an enormous, evil corporation.  Cue maniacal laughter.

(Rabbit trail warning!  This also reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers: 
ANNOY A LIBERAL - WORK HARD, SUCCEED, BE HAPPY)

Back to the subject at hand - grocery shopping.  :)

WM used to be our main grocery shopping destination, back when the price match policy was shiny and new, but lately, good price matches have been few and far between.  So we do the bulk of our grocery shopping at Ruler and Aldi, and then go to WM for the few things I can't get elsewhere and my meager price matches. 

Also, to attempt to cut down superfluous driving, we try to hit the library and any thrift stores in the area on the same day.  Sometimes we schedule doctor or dentist appointments on grocery day too.

Here's what a typical "big grocery" day looks like for us.  By "big" I mean enough groceries to keep 7 people fed and in soap, toilet paper, etc. for two weeks.  (And enough produce and milk for a week.  Or at least 4 days.  Hopefully.)
  1. Wake the troops early (or at least, on time, for once) and feed them breakfast (preferably something with some protein to it).
  2. Clean out the car of any miscellaneous items; we are going to need the room.  So, strollers, fishing gear, jackets, etc. get removed.  Then we pack two giant coolers (unless it's the middle of winter) and our enormous collection of grocery bags.  I like the plastic bags you can buy at Aldi and Ruler, but I reuse them so I don't have to buy them very often;  we also have some cloth bags from various stores.
  3. Drive 35 minutes to nearest large town, in which is located the library we most frequently use, two nice thrift stores, a Super Wal-Mart, Aldi, and assorted other discount stores.
  4. Visit thrift shops, library, bank, and do any other errands that can be done.
  5. Usually it is lunch time by now, so we grab sandwiches to eat en route to another large town about 10 minutes away from the first one, where we start our grocery shopping at Ruler.
  6. Return to town #1, and go to Aldi.
  7. Pick up anything that can only be had at Wal-Mart, or that is price matched at Wal-Mart.
  8. Head home to unload and put away everything before starting supper.
So, it's a big day, but we only do it every two weeks.  I know that I'm going to have the basics for a number of different meals on hand, so it reduces emergency trips to the store (unless I forget things, but I try to avoid that).  I don't enjoy running out every other day to get stuff.  I always end up getting more than the one or two items I ran in to buy.  It saves money by just keeping me away from the checkout!

I like to just have it done, for the most part, so I can think about other things.  I can't fathom having to go and get groceries every night on your way home from work, or making the trip for only a few days' worth of food.  I know some people prefer to shop that way, but I am sure I operate better with the less frequent giant trip.

I'm thinking about turning this into a series, with topics like menu planning, what my grocery list looks like, the proper way to sack groceries (yes, I'm a control freak), why I don't use coupons, our experience with price matching, how we fit all this in the car, etc.  Let me know if there's something specific you'd like to know!

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