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Shopping 101

Want to go grocery shopping?

If you said no, then this is the column for you. Your friendly neighborhood cheapskate mother of four is here to motivate you to spend less time and less money on your edible necessities.

I know, you are shaking your head, debating on whether to read on. But do. Keep reading. Hopefully, I’ll share some of my weird, pragmatic ideas on this seemingly mundane task and make it fun for you, too.

First off, I want to explain why I care so much and why I am so annoyingly enthusiastic about groceries. My biggest piece of motivation: We don’t have as much money as I’d like to spend at the store. So I have to work hard to get all we can out of what we can afford to spend. And with four little birdies chirping for snacks and drinks and all those meals in between, it does takes some work.

And I’m not perfect; I still have those weekends when I send Matt to the store with my detailed list, but overall, I purpose to get every ounce of goodness out of every cent.

But before I get into my “process,” I would love to blow your mind with a tidbit of information.


Shocking, right? But believe me, I’ve done the legwork. Some toiletry items are cheaper at the big retailers, but the every day, ins and outs you need for your kitchen are either the same price, cheaper or not enough cheaper at the big guys to make up for the gas you spent to get there!

So my advice to you is this: Shop locally more often. It will save you time, more than likely money and you’ll be supporting your neighbor. So here’s the plan, open up your weekly Record and take out the inserts (don’t forget to check the inside pages for ads stores place within the body of the paper). Scan the ad. Typically, the best deals are on the front cover.

I make a list of all the sale items I can’t miss. Then I create a seven-day menu incorporating the sale items and stuff I already have in my cupboards or freezer. Don’t forget to plan for snacks, desserts and breakfast items. Be exhaustingly thorough.

Also throughout the week, I keep a running list of items we’ve run out of or are about to run out of. If it’s a necessity, I buy it. If it’s luxury items, like paper products, sometimes it has to wait. (And actually, we rarely buy things like napkins, paper plates, etc. If you can live without them for awhile, you’ll never miss them!)

So now you have your grocery list (which would be most efficient if you re-wrote according to the layout of the store), now it’s time to get cash. Yes, I said it. I try to buy groceries only with cash because it hurts more. Literally.

When you’re standing in that line handing over your beautiful hard-earned $20 bills, you really start to reconsider that box of oatmeal cream pies or other “luxuries” you thought weren’t going to add that much. So you really end up spending less when you pay with cash.

Want to keep more money in your pocket? DO NOT deviate from your list. Period.

And while we’re on the things you aren’t supposed to do, do not bring coupons unless it’s for an item you were already going to buy. Never buy an item just because you have a coupon.

I rarely use coupons. Besides being a pain to keep organized, I have come to the conclusion that in most circumstances, the store-brand product is still cheaper than the name-brand product plus the coupon. And probably of equal quality!

So we’re off to shop. List. Check. Cash. Check. Calculator. Check. Yep, take the handy pocket calculator with you. You will be amazed when you break down the different costs by ounce. Some times, the bulk item is MORE expensive. The key here is knowledge. Don’t rely on the store. They want you to buy certain products, and you can tell by the signage. Calculate and compare every purchase to ensure you are getting the best deal.

My last shred of advice to you is this: Take your time. Think it through. Take advantage of big store sales. Stock up now to save later. Just make sure it’s an item that you usually use. Because you know what’s cheaper than a sale? Not buying it at all.

Happy shopping!

As seen in the Lawrence County Record

Categories: Food and gardening on the farm


My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.

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