Make Time by Saving Time

A question that I’m frequently asked is: “How do you manage to do so much without getting burned out?”

The answer isn’t a simple one.  I could say that it’s because I don’t have young children at home.  Of course, that helps but to replace those young children — who are now out on their own–I now have a retired husband.  Enough said about that!

There are a number of things that take time but there are also a number of ways to make time by saving time.  Today, I’m going to venture away from business and share one of the ways that I save time with you today.

Unless you happen to have your own personal chef (which I don’t), we all have to spend time shopping at the grocery store.  A bit of organization can make the difference between a short trip or a long one.

First, keep a running list on your refrigerator where everyone will see it.  You could also use a chalkboard or one of those that you can write on and wipe off.  When you, or anyone in your family, runs out of something, (not just groceries but also toiletries, pet food, etc) write it on the list.  This simple act will not only save you shopping time but also will prevent that frustration when you need an onion for that casserole and discover that there aren’t any.

Quick & Easy grilled chicken with salad

The next step is to plan your meals.  Personally, I don’t sit down and write out a detailed menu for the next week.  To me, that is using time– not saving it.  But I do look at my calendar for the following week and see how busy I will be, check the freezer to see what I have stockpiled in the form of frozen pre-cooked meals and meats, and then decide what would tie the two together.  If I have lots of time during the coming week to cook, I’ll plan for meals that take a little longer.  I might make chicken marsala instead of sauteed chicken breasts or try a new recipe.  But, if it’s going to be a busy week, I pull, from my years of experience, menu options that are quick and easy to fix.  Any ingredients that I will need are added to the list.

The best of plans can go awry so I always keep a few quick and easy meal ingredients on hand at all hands so that a substitution can be made.  That chicken marsala might have to be put aside for another night when I get a bunch of last-minute orders in for delivery the next day.  Instead, there’s turkey sausage in the freezer that can be grilled or even boca burgers that hubby can prepare easily for both of us. In my family, fast food is never a substitute for a meal that I’m too busy to cook.  There’s always something at home that is just as fast and easy.

Now back to that list.  You can keep it as simply a running list or organize it as you create it.  My list has columns for diary, canned goods, fruits/vegetables, paper products, toiletries, bakery, etc.  When I add an item, it goes into the appropriate column.  Then when I “plan” my meals for the week, I simply add the additional products that I will need to buy.  Quick, easy, and efficient.

Before leaving for the store, I scan the grocery ads and add anything that is on sale that I might need in the future when it will be priced higher and sometimes even make substitutions if a particular item is on sale.  And for fresh fruits and vegetables, I usually buy whatever is in season.  Saving money can be as important as saving time but spending a little more for health reasons can be important too.  So I splurge and buy a few items that I try to include in our diet each week such as kale and sweet potatoes, even if they are not seasonal or on sale.

When you get to the store, it’s easy to fill that grocery cart with the items on the list.  And because it is organized, time is saved by hitting one department and then another rather than jumping all over the store.  So easy that I can even hand the list to hubby and he can do the shopping in a pinch.

Of course, my pantry is somewhat organized as well.  So when I bring my groceries home, there is a place for each type of product so that I can easily see what I have and need when preparing a recipe.

This is the way I do it and it works for me.  What do you do to make time by saving time at the grocery store?  Share your suggestions in the comments area.





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