BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP
When your kids were little, they needed you for every little thing. Feeding, clothing, changing diapers, toting them from place to place. I remember thinking that things would be easier when they got older and didn’t need me so much.
They still need me. But in a different way. While I don’t have to spoon feed them anymore, I still spend a lot of time in the car running them around for school activities, sports, hang out times with friends, and—because I have two special needs kids—lots of doctor appointments.
Because I’m naturally a planner, organizer, and project manager by trade, I’ve developed a few survival skills for moms to survive those crazy years. Some you may already know about, some might not work for you at all. But the more we share with each other what’s working for us, the more we help each other out.
Moms of teen boys often feel they need to take out a small loan before going grocery shopping. The kids eat a lot and often. In our house, we call them locust (see this post ). Once upon a time, I used the grocery lists like the Grocery Game and Savings Angel to figure out what to buy when and what coupons to use. If you haven’t used them before (or something similar in your area) they are worth checking out to see if they will work for you. Most of them have trial periods.
The idea is that grocery stores work on 12-week cycles. You stock up on what you need during the low prices (combined with coupons when possible) then you make your weekly meals out of what you already have on hand. It’s a great way to save money, particularly on things like paper goods, cleaning products, and toiletries. But it does take time. Additionally, if you don’t buy a lot of prepared or packaged foods, coupons won’t be as valuable to you.
If time is really crunched for you Amazon’s Subscribe and Save and Prime Pantry programs might be for you. With Subscribe and Save, you pick out your items from their Subscribe and Save shop. You get a delivery once a month, pay no shipping, and save 15% on your total order if you have more than 5 items. This is great for supplies like toilet paper and dog food that you need monthly. The prices can be comparable to grocery stores or even warehouse stores, so check the prices. You get an email several days before your order is locked in and you can make changes to it. Then it’s delivered to your door. I get about 50% of my groceries this way.
For fresh food, companies like Door to Door Organics (parts of New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Missouri)and Zaycon Foods (nationwide) can be good sources for produce and meat if they are in your area. Door to Door Organics will deliver a box of fresh fruits and veggies every other week, plus other groceries you might like to add to your order. You will pay more than the grocery store, but many people like the option to choose local farmers, organic produce, and community sponsored agriculture.
Zaycon uses the buying power of its members to make large purchases from local farms. They deliver to a local, central location where you pick up your order. Prices are usually better than what you can get in the store. But you need to have freezer room for the large orders and usually it’s several months between orders.
Another way to get fresh veggies into your family without having to go to the grocery store is through Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) boxes (go here to find them near you) and produce co-ops like Bountiful Baskets. With CSAs you buy a “share” of a farm from a local farmer and each week they provide you with a box of produce. Produce co-ops buy seasonal produce in bulk and distribute it to their members on a regular basis. Both options provide fresh produce for your families and support local farmers, usually at a savings to you.
Most people know the advantages of shopping at places like Costco and Sam’s Club. You can get large quantities at lower prices. For things you use a lot of or go through quickly, this is a good option. But check prices. They aren’t always better than the grocery store. And if something goes bad before you can use it up then it’s not a deal. You also have to have room to store extras (closet, garage, basement, under your bed).
Share the load
If you have friends in the same boat as you, consider sharing the load with them by buying in bulk together. Or start a co-op with several families. Door to Door Organics and Bountiful Baskets work particularly well with co-ops.
Most of these tips require a little prep time, but they will save you in the long run. Realize, too, that your sanity is a valuable commodity. IF something makes your life easier, it can be worth the cost.
Stay tuned. Part 2 talks about what to do with all this food now that you have it!
Note—I do not receive any compensation from any of the companies listed or linked to here. I’m just a mom sharing with other moms what has worked for me.