Grocery Shopping: Farm Wife Style

I have grocery shopping down to a science.  I really don’t mean to brag.  But I’m pretty proud of how efficient I have gotten at “get in, get out, and get on with it.” I HATE shopping of any sort.  I know that makes me weird.  But it does save me a lot of money.

Laudry baskets and one big tub help make loading and unloading easier, and helps keep the cold food cold.

So, I do one major grocery/household needs shopping trip per month.  I find a sitter for the kids and clear out the back of my Expedition.  I throw in my trusty totes to make loading and unloading easier.  One tote is for cold groceries, another for canned goods, another for squishable things like bread and bagged cereal.  You get the idea.

Ahhh... an almost empty parking lot! Early morning shopping means crowd avoidance, a clean store, and friendlier staff.

I leave as early in the morning as possible to avoid crowds.  My first stop is Sam’s Club.  Their store brand diapers and formula are the cheapest and best quality I have found.  I also buy a lot of dairy products from Sam’s.  My main rule when shopping at Sam’s is to buy the store brand (Member’s Mark) products of whatever they have available that’s on my list.  It is also the cheapest place to buy a name brand, but my main philosophy is to buy store brands unless I really cannot stand the store brand.  For example, I cannot stand any french salad dressing other than the Western brand.  Their produce and meat is also a much better value and quality when compared to Wal-Mart (my other stop).

The back of the car after Sam's Club... next stop, Walmart!

Once I am done at Sam’s, the next stop is Wal Mart.  I have an itemized shopping list that is grouped according the the aisles at Wal Mart.  I composed this list by taking pictures of the aisle headers with my digital camera, then putting the list together at home on microsoft excel. Here is the link. (Yes, I may be a little too perfectionist about my grocery shopping.)

My over-the-top shopping list... I highlight the things I need, then cross them off once in the cart, and keep a running total as I go.

I carry a calculator with me and add up my total as I go.  I put myself on a tight budget and this is incredibly helpful in staying within it.  People may stare at me, but I really don’t care, I’d rather save money than worry about what some stranger thinks.  I also bring a pen and cross off items as I get them, because it’s really easy to forget something.

Pictures of the aisle headers, which the order of my shopping list is based from.

When I’m going through the check-out, I will put the groceries on the belt according to their category (cold, canned, squishy, etc.) so they are bagged accordingly.  Canned goods go first so they are in the bottom of the cart, squishies go last.   If I have an attentive cashier, they usually appreciate it.  It also makes loading, unloading, and unpacking much easier.

Time to get home!

Throughout the month, I’ll have to make occasional trips to the grocery store (love Fareway!) for more perishable items and a few miscellaneous things.  Since I have all the staples at home, though, it makes trips to the store with three kids in tow a much more enjoyable affair.

What a midsummer view! Corn is tasseling. It's too easy to forget that all our food originated from a farmer's field.

I do have to say as a consumer I often take for granted all the selection and variety that there is when I go to the grocery store.  Here is a great website that talks about our food choices as consumers: Food is so available and convenient that it is easy to forget that everything in the grocery store was once in a farmer’s care.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wayne Nieman on July 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Liz, there are a lot of wonderful tips here that can benefit everyone. Well done! By the way, I didn’t realize that you caught me staring at you in the grocery store. Wayne

  2. Posted by Teresa B. on July 9, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Love this! I struggle with grocery/household shopping, too, because it’s a 30-minute drive to the nearest grocery store from home, and I hate going grocery shopping when it’s busy on the weekends. These are awesome tips – especially the tip about carrying a calculator and a list.

  3. I feel so disorganized after reading your post. I make a list, sure…but too often I go to the store during my lunch break (hello? starving? how else did those Doritos end up in my shopping cart?).
    Thanks for being inspirational…and for sharing the Choose2Choose website (lotta good info there!).
    Keep up the FABulous work!

  4. Posted by Tom B on July 15, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Wow-thanks for so many great tips. I especially like the idea of using laundry baskets to organize/carry the groceries. I usually grab as many bags as I can and stumble toward the door, figuring out how to open it when I get there (I need those automatic doors like they have at the store). Of course, my shopping strategy the other night was to wander through the store just looking at the “sale” items and deciding whether or not it was something we needed!

  5. This is absolutely fantastic. I love the idea of the laundry baskets in the back. I hate shopping too-and just love to get it done. Thanks so much!

  6. I love the tip on taking pictures of the aisles. I too organize my shopping list by the store order. My husband thinks I’m ridiculous but it helps me get in and get out. I too use a calculator especially to calculate the cost per item.

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