I remember our first grocery trip after the boys were born. We were so excited just to get out of the house (two hours after we planned), and we spent more time happily talking to on-lookers answering all the typical twin/new baby questions than we did actually shopping for groceries.
Yes, they are twins...two boys...yes, our first...and second...not-identical...one-minute apart...well, they run in the family now, I guess...yes, our hands are pretty full...and so on.
I also remember chatting briefly with a relaxed and blissful looking young woman who was leisurely strolling through the aisles.
"Oh, my kids? They are at home with Daddy. This is my 'me' time."
Well, after having that same "twin" conversation more times than I can count (while solo and silently praying that the boys would last just 5 more minutes without a meltdown so I could get through the checkout lane), I soooo understand what that sweet woman meant.
Don't get me wrong, I love chatting with folks in the grocery store, especially the sweet grandmas reminiscing about their own grandchildren in far-off states (our Nana and Grammie are far away, too, so I get it). But, as you know, it is a juggling act trying to get food in the cart, keep it in the cart, up on the checkout belt, into bags, through the parking lot, and into the back of the SUV all while hopefully keeping the children happy-ish.
But, I digress. The real reason for this post is to share (and hopefully get some of your tips, too) what has helped us in our grocery shopping adventures lately.
5 Tips for Grocery Shopping Survival
- Tip #1 - Getting into (and out of) the SUV: This is a scary one for me as it probably is for anyone with more than one young and mobile child in a parking lot. Our current strategy (pictured below) was suggested by a friend in our play group. Pick one spot on the car and teach the kiddos to put their hand in that spot and wait. For us, it is the tire. While I load (or unload) Big Brother, Little Brother waits...usually. It is a work in progress and usually sounds like this:
Okay, put your hand on the tire and wait for mommy please...the tire...wait...hand on the tire...good...wait...hand on tire...good j...no, stop...yes, tire...good.
And, sometimes it actually looks like this:
- Tip #2 - Making it into the grocery store: When possible, I will park right by the cart return in the parking lot. This makes Tip 1 above unnecessary since I can usually just load one right in the the child seat in the cart. Still, this part always makes me nervous... especially with climbers. I try to wedge the cart as close to the door as possible and keep a foot on it while unloading Kiddo #2. The real trick is finding the right cart in the parking lot.
- Tip #3 - Finding the right cart: Cart selection pretty much determines where we get our groceries right now. Since one up front and one in the back is not an option - as child in back will no doubt try to open and eat his way through the bounty - we have to go where we can find one of these...
- Tip #4 - Finishing the list before entering "crank"-ville: This is tough, as my boys seem to have a time limit for my shopping, but having an organized list (by department) helps. Since my boys are starting to recognize and request food items in the store, I also try to keep a small snack bag in my purse. Lately, they are loving Toddler Trail Mix, Goldfish, or Veggie Straws. If one gets cranky, I can sometimes pacify the offender by bringing him into the child seat and handing over my snack bag. If both get cranky, I get cranky, too. Still working on that solution. ;) Also, some stores have a kid shopper program that allows them to eat one fruit or bakery item while shopping. For example, Jewel-Osco stores have a Healthy Eaters Free Fruit Card, which is a great. Now, if only they had double race-carts, we'd be all set!
- Tip #5 - Skipping the madness: While I have not tried this, another option would be to try a home delivery grocery service. (Full disclosure - Peapod is currently an affiliate advertiser on this website.) I have just started to investigate the cost and available selection, and I may very well give this a try. One feature I initially like with Peapod is that you can set up a specified diet plan (including one for specific allergies), and the allergy-friendly products will be starred as you shop. I'm also wondering if I might actually save money by "shopping" after the boys are in bed when I have time to plan, compare, and not "impulse" buy. If you are considering a home delivery option, you can read reviews - which seem to be overall positive - here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/peapod-skokie.
We are still very much learning as we go when it comes to grocery shopping. In all honesty, it is not something I look forward to, despite the fact that I really do love meal planning and cooking.
How do you handle groceries? Do you go alone? Shop on-line? Grit your teeth and bear it with the kids? Bribe them to be little cherubs in the store? I would love it if you have any tips to share...or if you just need a place to vent about the "joys" of shopping. :)
Thanks for visiting, and I look forward to reading your comments!