Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Successful grocery shopping

Improved grocery shopping has been a key goal of mine this year. I set out to spend less, saving more, have smoother grocery trips with the kids, introduce more green habits into my shopping experience, and surrender all of this to God.

So, I remembered to pray before shopping today. Something I have heard from a few of my friends that they do regularly. I often pray, but more for patience and sanity than the actual grocery shopping. It really changed my attitude while I shopped. I wasn't even tempted to buy those yummy, expensive cookies even if they were on sale, just one pack, I'm so good about everything else, so why not? Not today, didn't even cross my mind, until now . . . It kept my thoughts on being a good steward of what God has blessed me with. Definitely a habit I hope to grow in myself.

I also spent less than $90 and had a very full cart of groceries. I should be able to put off shopping again for about 10 days. With that I spent less than $500 on groceries for our family of 7 since January 24 (about a month ago, and the first day I finally lived out my motivation to restart tracking expenses). I used to spend over $800 a month on groceries! I am quite excited about all I have learned in the past 6 months about grocery shopping more frugally. (Thank you, Crystal!) That's a lot of extra money each month to save toward college, give to those in need and toward ministry, and to save for other expenses that are bound to come up with a growing family.

Another very little thing that I did today, I brought my own paper and cloth bags to bring my groceries home. I have often thought of doing this, and always do at Trader Joe's when we go there, but haven't bothered elsewhere. Well, today I did it and it felt so good to not be using up more plastic bags. I do reuse them, but not even as many as I already have. If I can do it, while shopping with 5 kids, anyone can!

Last, but most certainly not least, I hit on an inspiration to help keep order to my little clan as we shop together. The kids wanted to spend their own quarters in the gumball machines on the way out. So, I gave them the following condition: if they behaved. They generally do pretty well, but I also have pretty high expectations. We have laid the rules: hands to yourself, conversational voice volume only, no asking for things, stay with me, and no lying on the floor (don't ask). We have also rehearsed this at home in the past. The expectations are very clear. Sometimes I have the kids walk in a line behind me as well, but it depends how big of a hurry I am in and how crowded the store.

Well, today we added a little twist, a concrete way of tracking their grocery shopping behavior. I gave each child 2 coins (could be anything -- pennies, paperclips, scraps of paper, pen caps, etc.) I told them that when I had to speak to them about their behavior they would lose one of those coins. If they lost both over the course of the trip, no buying a gumball on the way out. They were amazing! Only the 2 year old lost his coins. I don't know how well he understood the set up, but he did really well at first and for a while after losing his first coin. Obviously, after losing the second coin I will need to come up with a consequence for additional infractions. However, for today the system worked very well.

I pray that as I work with these little hearts and lives that they would continue to seek to do what is right. I pray that our lives would produce good works. That those around us may see those good works and glorify our Father in heaven.


Mom2fur said...

Letting kids know what is expected of them ahead of time sure helps, doesn't it? I would like to suggest, though, that the two-year-old should probably get a little bit more of a 'break' because of his age. Maybe one extra coin? Then again, that would mean increasing the rewards for the older ones--with age and responsibility comes privilege. I'd give them an extra dime to put in a piggy bank. Just think...10 topping trips with good behavior and they'd have a whole dollar to spend!
All in all, you're brave to shop with children. I'm sure other shoppers appreciate their good behavior. I swear every time I go shopping, someone's kid has a meltdown. It's like they see me coming, LOL!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are doing well on your grocery budget, we are also trying to cut back in this area. I love the idea of praying before your shopping trip, I don't do this and I should. The coins idea for the kids is also great but I don't shop with my kids. One of the ways I save money at the store it to not have little helpers with me.

lisa (The happy homeschool mom) said...

As you have commented on my blog before, I can't believe that similarities between our lives. Groceries are a huge focus right now. I was over $800 a month and am now at about $500. I am striving to get to $400 (I think I can get there if I get Alex potty trained for night, and Anthony trained during the day) Grcoery shopping with a crowd is definitely a challenge. I really like the coin idea, I might try it next time.