Reducing my trips to the store and keeping things on hand that I need is a goal I have had for awhile now. If I could succeed at this goal I would save myself money (both in gas expenses and in those impulse purchases), time, and stress.
When I lived in the embrace of metropolitan St. Louis, though, I was never successful at this. I would try. When macaroni & cheese went on sale I would buy ten boxes and load the top shelf of my pantry with them. I would head to the local Sam’s Club and buy a small case of toothpaste. I am still trying to get through an ungodly amount of toothpicks I picked up once because my stocking up was completely random. I had toothpicks, but would end up running to the store to get baby Tylenol, or a stick of butter. It was easy then, I could walk to the nearest grocery store, and Walgreens if I needed to (although, honestly, I usually drove).
Now I live twenty minutes outside the nearest metropolitan area, and those twenty minutes comprise of farms and a lone Pizza Hut. There are no more five minute trips to the drug store at 3am because I ran out of cough syrup, nor can I send the husband to the grocery store to pick up another carton of eggs and still get dinner on the table at a reasonable time. I had to get organized about how I would stock my house.
While these tips are forced upon me by geography, anyone can incorporate them into their lives and actually reach the goal that I had set for myself years ago. I hope that once I am again living nearer to the hub of a city I will continue these practices.
Determine What You Need
The first step is figuring out what items you need to keep around your house. This process took me awhile to do. I had to make several trips to the store, then write down what I forgot. I also scoured my pantries and closets to see what I actually keep in the house. Finally I came up with a ‘definitive’ list of everything I could possibly need on hand. To help you out I am including this list below, some items might need adjusting for your needs, but it should give you a really great start.
Once the list has been determined, the shopping begins. My goal has been to have at least two of each item in my house always. One which is being used, and one that is being held as a back up. This is a general goal, and for each item it can differ a little. Some items cannot be stored long term, like lettuce, so I only get what I can use before those items go bad. Many items, though, can be stored long term either dry in the pantry or in the freezer. Those items I sometimes buy several of instead of just two so I won’t have to worry about them for awhile.
Buying double of not just your weekly grocery list, but everything you might need to have on hand in your house can be expensive. My grocery bills for the past two months have been double or triple what I had been doing before, but slowly they are settling down to a more reasonable amount. This can be alleviated some by careful planning and buying extras of only one type of item per trip and building your stock over time.
Keeping Track of Your Stock
Once you have established a stocked house you will need to keep up with it, or it will quickly become depleted again and you will be running out to Walgreens for an item. Some people come up with elaborate lists that keep track of everything currently in their home and update the list whenever something is used. I find this to be tedious and I know I will not update the list whenever something is used, so then the list will be useless.
I use a two part system to keep track of what I need instead. The first step is to print off the grocery list I have added below and putting it on the fridge. This way I can mark an item and write any notes to the right of it as I am going along. I do not have to keep track of how many ounces of spaghetti I have on hand, I just need to jot down that I need more when I get down to one box in the pantry.
When it is time to go shopping I grab that list and go over it, taking a glance into the pantry, fridge, freezer, and bathrooms to make sure I am stocked up on everything on it, jotting down anything that needs more supplies. Then I head to the store, feeling certain that I will not have to go again until I am ready.
Like many things in life maintaining a fully stocked house requires careful planning and some basic organizational skills. However, once the system is established in your life it will prove to be very beneficial. Trips to the store will no longer be governed by a sudden need for something, but instead just the regularly scheduled trips that are stress free due to your planning. Beyond reducing stress, you will save time and money.
Please let me know if you try this and how it works for you.
Download the Grocery List now. It’s in Excel format so you can adjust it to meet your family’s needs.
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