Fall Shopping Tips for Busy Parents: Save Time, Money and Stress

by Lara Leontowich

Fall is crunch time for most families with back-to-school and work in full force. Shopping can take up a large chunk of time and be tough on the family budget but it is an ongoing necessity. For parents looking to save money or streamline a system to make weekly shopping trips easier, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Plan Weekly Meals In Advance

Sitting down and organizing meals for the week makes it easier to stick to your family’s weekly food budget. Such preplanning also relieves the ongoing stress when the all too familiar question arises at 4pm “What are we having for dinner tonight conversation?” It is easy to rely on a quick convenience food or head to a restaurant when everyone is hungry and nothing is defrosted. Planning ahead is the way to prevent this pattern. Let your children be involved in meal planning, which can get them receptive to healthy meals you are preparing. Chances are they will likely be more willing to trying new dishes too. Many families are now using easy meal-planning apps to organize meals and create shopping lists based on ingredients needed for each meal.

Research Flyers and Websites Regularly

Ever walk into the store only to realize you’ve forgot the items you went there for in the first place? Shopping with children can cause anyone to become frazzled and distracted but most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to do it alone on a consistent basis. Creating a shopping list with everything you need to buy in a typical month will help you stay organized. This will make it easier to forecast when you might run out of the last toilet paper roll or need more garbage bags. For those who are budget-conscious, research your weekly flyer in print or online for deals on commonly used products that your family uses. Check out the websites for big box retailers for weekly sales that will help you budget before you run out and have to buy at regular price.

Simplify Shopping for Children’s Clothes

As each season changes, keep in mind that your child may have outgrown key such staple items as jackets and shoes, so watch for off-season sales year-round. In the fall, when you take a closer look at all your child’s pants you stored away for the summer, you may soon discover your son or daughter has grown a few inches. This change may go unnoticed during those warmer months when your children are typically wearing shorts. Shopping for children’s clothes can be tedious. So before “crunch time” (when the weather suddenly turns cooler, and your children needs new pants) sort through your children’s clothes and determine the items you want to keep; those that are worn out and those they have outgrown. This gives you a clear idea of what you have, and what you need to buy. If your child hasn’t worn some clothes in over a year, consider selling or donating those clothing items. To identify the clothes your child has not worn in a year, put all the hangers on the rack backwards at the start of the school year. If a hanger is still backwards by the time the next school year rolls around, you will soon be able to identify clothes your son or daughter is not wearing. As parents, it can seem that our life is consumed with shopping of one type or another. Whether it is weekly grocery trips or hitting the shopping mall for children’s clothes, preplanning is the key to making the process a smoother one.

Lara Leontowich

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