Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Time-saving shopping tactics

One of the things I’m often asked is “with that many kids, how do you keep food in the house?"  Followed quickly by, “and what about diapers?! How many diapers do you go through in a day?!” The short answer to the diaper question is that thankfully, our diaper usage has declined from the infancy peak of about 30-35 diapers a day to a diaper/pull up combo of about a dozen a day… possibly a few more or less depending on the day and the success (or lack thereof!) that we’re having with potty training.
 As for keeping food in the house, well, it’s no easy task – especially for our daily staples like milk, fruit. cereal and yogurt. We easily consume seven gallons of milk a week, a box of cereal a day and last week, went through six pints of blueberries in three day.  So, our burn rate on the food front is substantial, which is why I have some time saving shopping tactics that more often than not, keep our cupboards full and diapers stocked.
 First and foremoest, I like to shop online. It’s quick. it's easy and repeat orders are literally as quick as a click of a button. Some of my frequent go-tos include…

  • For Groceries: Peapod.com for heavy staples (e.g. those seven gallons of milk, big bottles of apple juice, etc.) and FreshDirect.com for produce and prepared meals
  • For Diapers/Wipes and other assorted kid stuff (baby wash, diaper rash cream, sumblock!), nothing beats diapers.com Their prices are competitive, shipping is free when you spend over $50, and your goods arrive in 48 hours or less. Can’t beat that!
  • For kids' birthday gifts, amazon.com works wonders for us. I aspire to keep a closet stocked with gifts for all ages but frankly, our closet space is at a premium so, I let the good folks at amazon take care of the storage until 48-72 hours before the party. With amazonPrime, free shipping is included and for us, it’s well worth it… you name it, they have it and if you don’t know what to get, they have recommendations by age and gender. A little online surfing sure beats an afternoon fighting the masses at Toys R Us if you ask me!  
  • For kids clothes, Lands End gets it right every time. Shoes, mittens, winter coats, shorts, they’ve got it all. The quality is good, the prices are right and if you time it right, they’ll offer free shipping too. Gap/Old Navy/PiperLime also experience frequent logins from yours truly; the one-stop shopping can’t be beat and if you get one of those Friends & Family coupons, the deals can’t be beat either! I recently filled my virtual shopping cart with Crocs in several colors and sizes, summer pjs for the triplets, flip flops for Ciara and shorts for Liam. All on sale and all arriving with free shipping and free returns. Check!  A few more things are now crossed of my list!
Here's another tip: avoid the big box stores. I admit it, I enjoy a trip to Target as much as the next gal but I can’t seem to get out of that place without spending hundreds of dollars on items I didn’t have on my list or didn’t know I needed… perhaps because I don’t actually need them! In any case, as tempting as these excursions can be, do your best to just say no… especially if you have your little ones in tow because I’ve found that they just drive up your total expenditure in a big way!

Since you can’t completely avoid those big box or club stores, go with a plan -- create a detailed list and do your best to stick to it. A critical componet to keeping our cupboards full is a trip to Costco every 6-8 weeks. I have a standard list I use every time so I don’t need to recreate the wheel with each visit. Our Costco family staples include:
  • Laundry detergent/stain lifter/fabric softener/dish & dishwasher detergent
  • Windex/Cleaning supplies/Ziploc bags, as needed
  • Milk, Yogurt, GoGurt, Cheddar Cheese, Goat Cheese, Mozzarella cheese, OJ
  • Cereal, Crackers, Goldfish, School Snacks, Bread, English muffins
  • Chicken, Fish, Pork, any other decent looking, reasonably priced meat or fish
  • Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, baby carrots
  • Bananas, berries, apples, pears, kiwi
In case you didn't notice, I organize my list by store sections so I can be super-efficient as I whiz through the aisles with my oversized cart. I do admit to occasionally straying from the plan and arriving home somewhat confused as to how a Hannah Andersson dress, Carter's pajamas or a value-pack of Nutella got in the cart but, for the most part, it’s a predictable trip that I’ve got down to a science.

So, there you go -- a few insights as to how this family of seven keeps our staples in stock. Frequent online shopping across multiple categories minimizes my visits to the supermarket and big box stores while also ensuring that the kids (usually!) have clothes that fit and (almost always!) arrive at birthday parties with gifts in hand. Carefully calculated trips to Costco keep our pantry full and organized lists of staples make ordering, reordering and shopping a snap. Next up: wag.com – a sister site to Diapers.com that will ensure our sweet pup Finnegan never wakes up without food in his bowl or his favorite biscuits in the treat jar… I think he’s wagging his tail at the very thought! Happy Shopping!

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