"Never Run Out!"
by Shelly Burke
by Shelly Burke
(Adapted from Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. See the http://achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com/p/table-of-contents.html
to see what else is covered in the book!)
It happened again as I was preparing homemade pizza for Saturday supper. I was out of tomato sauce. As I searched the grocery story for that crucial ingredient my cart magically filled…and 45 minutes and $45 later I was back home wondering how “just one thing” had taken so long and cost so much.
As well as being inconvenient (my sister had to go to three all-night gas stations when she ran out of children’s cold medicine in the middle of the night) and expensive (the medicine she found was VERY overpriced) running out of anything can be very frustrating.
Through trial and error I found a way to “never run out” again. I hope the tips will help you too.
- Make a meal list. List about 20 meals that you like to cook and your family likes to eat. List all of the ingredients needed to prepare each meal.
- Make Master Shopping Lists
Master Grocery List. Include all of the items for your favorite meals, plus staples like margarine, canned products, and other things your family uses on a regular basis. List everything you use on a regular basis as well as what you use occasionally. Print out several copies of the list and post it on your refrigerator. Ask your family to circle an item if they use the last one (I circle peanut butter, vegetable oil, etc. when I open the last container in the cupboard).
Discount Store List. List pet food, paper items like paper towels, toilet paper and tissues, cleaning items (including dish and laundry soap), over-the-counter medications your family uses regularly, office supplies, and so on. Again, print out a list and post it in a central area.
- Prepare for shopping trips. Before you shop, check the lists for items you’re low on. Also check your pantry, laundry room, etc. for items you’ll run out of before your next shopping trip. By shopping for items proactively, before you’re all the way out, you won’t have to buy items when you’re completely out, in a panic, and will pay way more than necessary.
Before you grocery shop, plan meals for the next week or so and check to make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. (I didn’t realize how quick and easy it is to plan meals ahead…and it makes the days and weeks run so much easier!) On your master list, circle the items you’re out of.
When you have just two or three containers of frequently used items left (in our house that includes catsup and BBQ sauce) or open the last of a less-frequently used item (like lemon juice), circle it on your list and mark it with an “*”. That means you don’t need it immediately but will soon; but several if the item happens to be on sale. If you have a coupon for a circled item, put a “C” by it so you don’t forget to use the coupon.
- The shopping trip. Your goal is to gradually build up a stock supply of items your family frequently uses—when they are on sale. For example, when BBQ sauce is on sale I buy 10-12 bottles—enough to last until the next time it’s on sale. Even if your budget only allows you to purchase 1-2 extras, do so! You’ll gradually build up your supply and eventually only have to buy those things when they’re on sale. And if you’re just starting to buy ahead, consider buying two of everything, even if it’s not on sale. An extra jar of mayonnaise or can of soup in your cupboard can still save you a last-minute trip to the store.
Be discerning; don’t buy a dozen bottles of a new brand of taco sauce; what if your family doesn’t like it? It’s also not saving money or making good use of your finances if you buy a large amount of perishable items and end up throwing them out because they’re spoiled.
What about things that usually don’t go on sale, like over-the-counter medications and soap? You’ll still save money by buying several of these things as your budget allows, because you won’t have to make a trip to the store for “just one thing.”
“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 13:23
What tips do you use so you never run out? Share them in the comments.