By Lisa Holcomb
Grocery shopping during the holidays can make even the most experienced shopper feel like they have lost all control. With long lines and limited budgets and time, our patience can be pushed to the limits. We can be left frazzled and tired and a far cry from feeling like the Proverbs 31 woman.
With a little planning however, you can ease the frustration of holiday shopping.
Avoid the grocery stores during the busiest hours.
Nobody wants to stand in mile-long grocery lines. The closer the holiday gets, the busier stores and lines will be. Try to go earlier in the morning or later in the evening, if possible. Avoid the main “rush hour,” which is 5 to 6:00 p.m., when the masses are getting off work.
Know when your favorite stores restock.
My hometown store restocks produce on Monday mornings. If I go on Sunday evening, there will be slim pickings. That means an extra trip back to the store.
Don’t leave home without a shopping list!
If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. Take the time to make your menu and shopping list before heading out. You’ll save money and time by doing so. Without a shopping list, you will most likely make purchases that you didn’t really need and fail to purchase things you really do need, necessitating another trip to the store.
Make sure your list is organized.
When you are making your shopping list, organize it by section: frozen foods, bakery goods, produce, etc. The last thing you want to do in a busy store is to have to go back and forth across the store several times because you failed to simply organize your list. Unless of course, you like the exercise.
Don’t take the kids.
Unless it’s a necessity, try to leave the kids at home with hubby, your mom, friend, older sibling, or whatever works for you. Shopping in a busy crowded grocery store with kids in tow can certainly leave the calmest mother with frazzled nerves. Kiddos also have a way of talking us into purchases that we wouldn’t have bought had they not been with us. Avoid the extra purchases and extra tantrums and shop kid-free.
Stick to your list.
You made a grocery list for a reason, so stick to it. If you start browsing, not only will it take longer to get out of the busy grocery store, but you’ll end up making purchases you didn’t intend to and don’t need.
Watch for special deals from your grocery store.
Our local store throws in a free turkey when you purchase a ham. Since I usually serve ham and turkey at our very large Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, it turns out to be quite a money saver. You’ll find lots of great store promotions on special holiday foods during the holiday season.
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.
Set a budget for your holiday meal.
Maybe you just have one meat instead of two? Or maybe you ask guests to bring a dish. They will be glad to contribute and it takes the stress off your budget, as well as your time. Don’t feel as if you have to do it all alone. Less to cook means less ingredients to purchase meaning less time spent in the grocery store.
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 just enjoy the holiday.
Lisa Holcomb and her husband, Will, have six children (her oldest two children are married and have babies of their own) and live near Austin, Texas, with their four boys. Lisa is co-founder of Build A Menu and is known as the “Queen of Meal Time Makeovers.” She is an author, speaker and an advocate for adoption, family nutrition, savvy grocery shopping, and family dinners. Feel free to email her at [email protected].