Tag Archives: shopping

How To Navigate The Grocery Store

Grocery shopping is one of those necessary tasks and just part of “adulting” but it isn’t always fun, especially when you feel like you are wandering around the store like a lost puppy dog. Thankfully now there is curbside pick-up and delivery services which make the chore a bit more palatable for some. There are SO many options at the grocery store now that it can be hard to discern what to buy. Healthy and clean eating is much more popular and accessible nowadays, which is fantastic, but with it comes a lot of products boasting terms like  ‘all natural’, ‘organic’, ‘low-fat’, ‘Whole30 Approved’…just to name a few. What does it all even mean?! There are so many healthy, organic options on the shelves now but what do you do when this whole clean eating thing is all new territory for you and you are overwhelmed and confused by all of the jargon?! 

Let me give you a few tips to help you navigate the store and simplify the overwhelm so that you can go in and conquer your shopping and press forward with your healthy, clean eating plan.

First things first. Always shop the perimeter of the grocery store! You may never have taken notice but every grocery store you walk into has the exact same layout. The perishable items and fresh produce are on the outside perimeter and the non-perishable, dry goods are on the inside aisles. If your goal is to eat a more healthy and clean diet, stick to the outside perimeter and don’t even venture down the inside aisles and get lost in the land of cookies and chips. On the outside perimeter you will find your fresh produce, meat, and dairy items. 

Go prepared with a list. Entering the grocery store without a plan and a list is asking for it…asking for your cart to be filled with impulse buys and things you likely wouldn’t have chosen had you gone in with a specific list and plan. Take a few minutes before you go to the grocery store and make a game plan. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you for the intentional forethought. 

Don’t go hungry. I think we’ve all made this mistake a time or two and it goes hand in hand with the above tip to go prepared with a list. When we enter the store with a grumbling tummy, our stomach is making more of the decisions than our brain, and that isn’t going to end well (typically). Eat a well balanced meal BEFORE going to the store so that when you arrive you are satisfied, well nourished, and able to think with a clear mind so you can make healthy choices that align with your goals.

Read your labels. Take the time to turn around that box of crackers or bag of granola and look for some key items such as serving size, sugar content, ingredients, calories, saturated/unsaturated/trans fat amounts, as well as sodium amounts. Learning to read and interpret a food label is critical to making healthy choices at the grocery store. It sure does pay to pay attention. There are a lot of “healthy” convenience foods on the shelves now that look good and harmless, but be careful because oftentimes they are still processed to a degree and not as good as fresh, whole foods. 

Navigating the grocery store can be overwhelming and time consuming but I know implementing these 4 easy steps and keeping these things in mind will help you tremendously, especially when it comes to making healthy choices to keep you on track with your goals. Being mindful goes a long way.

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

Unicorns and Daddy’s Girls

It is mid-July. I stroll through Wal-Mart picking up supplies for the office, and I see the table of mix and match outfits for little girls. I realize haven’t started shopping for school clothes and supplies. With three daughters, all now in school, it dwells on me that I am as behind on this as the IRS processing refunds this past year.

My youngest is five and headed into big girl school. She loves unicorns. I pick up a coordinating, sparkly, and sure to wow the fellow Kindergarteners, unicorn outfit.  Leaving the store, unicorn sass attire in hand, I am Super Mom and feel confident I may win the heart of my Daddy’s girl daughter (if only for a few moments).

That evening I come in with my imaginary Super Mom cape flowing behind me and announce to her, “Mommy picked out something special for school!” Wait for it………………….

The avalanche of tears that begin to pour down her face were reminiscent of the time I forgot I was filling up the sink to thaw out something for dinner until, yes you know it, my kitchen was flooded. In between sobs, she finally gets out, “But Daaaaaddddyyyyyyy was supposed to to to to to (insert stuttering cry rambling) take me shopping!!!!!!”

Aaaaahhhhhhhh, now it makes sense. If I bought her an outfit, in her mind, Daddy would not take her shopping. Myself and my older daughters (9 and 14) attempt to explain she can pick out other things with Daddy too. Still to no avail, the tears fall.

Remembering what it was like to only have a few things and time exclusive with my own Dad, and how invested I was when looking forward to my time with him, I chose to eliminate the issue all together. I asked her, “Would you like for me to just take it back to the store?”.

If those tears didn’t dry up faster than the gas stations in Houston when a tropical storm turns into a hurricane in the gulf, I tell you what! My older daughters carefully eyed my own face for evidence of hurt feelings and water works. I shrugged my shoulders and giggled a little, gave them a wink, and the world was at peace again.

So, I hid the bag from the store, and I probably won’t remember to take it back within the allowed time. I’m predictable in that way. So are my girls. The youngest, more than all of them, knows exactly what she wants and how she’d like to obtain it. I am ok with that and I am ok with some things just being off limits to Mommy because she’s reserved them for her Daddy.

What did I learn that day? Unicorn outfits are restricted to shopping with Dad. My daughters are growing up to be independent, strong willed, and more and more patient than needing to be instantly gratified. Oh, and it is OK if they’d prefer to do something with Dad over me. I still make “the best pizza rolls there ever could be”. I’m good with that.

-Ellen in Texas Y’all

Groceries On A Budget

We have discussed how to stay on a budget for clothing but we haven’t discussed on a budget for a necessity….Groceries!

That’s a tough one, to eat healthy, fresh, easy, fast, family friendly foods without spending a TON! I feed a family of anywhere from 4-6, my daughter and her fiance eat over here approximately once a week, sometimes more, I have a 16 year old son who cannot seem to stop eating and a 7 year old daughter who is CONSTANTLY grazing. I don’t mind her grazing-but I want to ensure she is grazing on things that are good for her. And all this adds up in a big HURRY! My husband and I are serious about our weight loss and everyone knows that is not cheap either. So how do I stay on budget for groceries?

Please keep in mind that my $125-$150 weekly budget works for me, different parts of the country experience different prices, these are just suggestions to help you determine a budget that works for you!

  1. SALES! Check all ads for the store(s) that you frequently shop. I shop 90% at one place for all my groceries-so that’s a fairly easy and fast step for me.
  2. Plan a menu. I sit down and plan out my menu for the week/month based on the ads that I have gone through and along with what I have in my pantry.
  3. I shop for groceries online-Hy-Vee has a really great online shopping option and keeps me from buying impulse items. Their shopping site also pulls any manufacture coupons available and attaches them to your bill-which is one less step you have to do! I LOVE their gas rewards so I try to take those into consideration when making my list. Who doesn’t want to save gas $$?! They also have the option for instructions on each item that you purchase and this is where I explain my expectations for my produce/meat. If you spend over $100 delivery(within a radius)/drive-up is FREE. I have heard that Wal-Mart is experimenting with stores on this option too, but I have yet to try it out…I don’t look for reasons to fix things that aren’t currently broken 🙂
  4. Plant a garden. Yes, I plant a rather large garden and can the heck out of things. Canning is expensive to get started but once you have an inventory of items built up it truly is a money saver. I like to watch for jars, lids, rings to go on clearance after canning season is over and stock up on supplies then. Not to mention you get to control what goes in to your food. We also freeze items as well.
  5. Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk can be expensive up front. When I started switching over to bulk, I bought just a few items at a time and added to that each week/month. Those things bought in bulk can also be frozen, or canned as well. I have done that with strawberries, meat, certain vegetables.
  6. Cook from scratch! and freeze meals ahead. I am sure you have all seen the different ways to cook ahead and freeze those meals to pop out on those days where you just don’t have time! Honestly-it costs A LOT of money to grab drive-thru for a family of 4-6(or any size for that matter)and freezing ahead has saved me a million times! And again, you get to control what goes into your food.
  7. If I have leftover money from my grocery budget, I spend it! I spend it on something that I can forsee needing in the next few weeks…sugar, flour, granola, cereal…things I know we will need and are on sale. It keeps me ahead of the game!

These are just a few things I do to help the grocery budget.

What is your budget for groceries? What are some of the things you do to help save and stay on track?

Love to All-Kim

Dressing For Work On A Budget

That necessary word…Budget. My husband and I own a small design and advertising firm and are on a tight budget in all aspects of our life. We budget EVERYTHING. Birthdays, Holidays, Groceries, School supplies, utilities, and the list goes on. We live paycheck to paycheck and very rarely do anything on a whim and especially not before consulting “The Budget”. Partially because we have to and partially because we have both experienced financial troubles in the past.  We use credit cards in emergency situations only and pay for everything in cash. If we come under the budget we rollover that extra in to a savings account. I scour the online sites, and paper ads for coupons and sales. Because I tend to go overboard on things occasionally, finding ways to save is almost an obsession to me.

I dress business casual most days and occasionally more dressy depending the situation. I own pieces in my closet that are years old. Finding and being able to afford to dress for work can be stressful but doesn’t need to be. You see a lot of articles online about dressing on a budget and after beginning to read the article you realize their budget is way more than what I would consider affordable. The struggle is real.  Where I am certainly far from a fashion guru a few of these things have helped me CONSIDERABLY when dressing on a budget.

*Buy pieces a little at a time and that are interchangeable. As you begin to build your wardrobe there are still 5 days a week every week that you need to dress for and introducing a piece at a time seems like it wouldn’t be helpful.  Black slacks, tan slacks, solid color shirts that can be changed up by adding a different scarf or a different piece of costume jewelry. One or two pairs of slacks and solid colored shirts can be worn repeatedly throughout the week just by adding those accent pieces. A little trick I learned from someone near and dear to me is to also try and style your hair a different way when wearing a repeat piece.  Believe me, I do it!

*Stay away from clothing that needs dry cleaned! Added expense that is not necessary.  Although, do pay attention to how your items need to be laundered. Washing and drying your clothes according to their care tags will keep the life of your items.

*Yes-I shop at Maurices, Old Navy, T,J Maxx, Wal-Mart, Target, Shoe Carnival.  Wal-Mart is awesome for buying scarves and jewelry. And almost always they have that stuff marked way down. It is true, purchasing more expensive pieces of clothing will last you longer. Again, sometimes that just isn’t reality. Purchasing that expensive piece falls in to my category of buying one at a time, over time.

*Some of my favorite online shops are Groupon and Amazon. I am not necessarily a fan of shopping for apparel online but most companies now offer free return shipping if the item doesn’t fit. And if it’s a deal I just cannot pass up I am willing to take the chance that it may not fit. I am very thorough about reading reviews, where the items are coming from, checking the return policy, and sizing charts.

*Most businesses now have their own rewards programs-take advantage of those! They do reap in benefits.

*Purchase items that are timeless. Slacks, pencil skirts, blazers.

* Be sure to buy things that are you! Buying an item just because it is on sale and not necessarily because you like it will result in a top hanging in the closet with the tags still on.

*I have a few friends who are close in size. We will have swap parties where we bring the items we are burned out on and switch around with each other.

*I LOVE Shoe Carnival-am always watching for their sale BOGO 1/2 off. We are constantly buying shoes for sports, recitals, weather changes, etc…I never not buy that 2nd pair!

What are your ways to save when shopping on a budget for work?

Love to All-Kim