My Month Without Walmart
Aug. 5, 2010 3:01 pm
Updated: Aug. 25, 2010 11:33 am
I didn't make it quite a month, only 29 days, but it was an eye-opening experience. Last month I wrote a blog about my Walmart wake-up call. I had started shopping there a couple of years ago because I always shop with my kids, and it made sense to buy
everything in one place instead of shlepping from store to store and getting my boys in and out of their car seats multiple times. I also thought shopping at Walmart would save us money. For a while it probably did, but that stopped long ago. I realized
recently that our grocery bills were going up and up and up, and the quality of the foods we were eating were going down and down and down. Anyone who shops at Walmart knows what their produce is like, so we were eating more canned and frozen items, and my
desire to cook had really started to wane. It just wasn't fun anymore; I wasn't excited about cooking, it seemed like more of a chore than something I've always really enjoyed.
Last month I needed to run to the store for something, I don't remember what now, but instead of driving 4 miles to Walmart, I went down the street to our local Fry's and realized what I've been missing all this time. I decided that for the next month, I wouldn't
go into a Walmart at all, just to my local grocery store for all of our grocery needs, and I'd see how much things changed. Change being: Would we save any money? Would my shopping habits change? Would the things we ate change? And I'm proud to say that
the answer to every one of those questions is "YES!" I started clipping coupons again, watching the sales fliers, and trying new things based on what was on sale. My kids love going to "Pry's" and riding in the race car shopping carts, and are well behaved
for the most part. We've started eating more fresh fruits and veg, and my picky two year old has gone from eating only strawberries and cantaloupe to loving apples and nectarines as well. He still won't touch a vegetable, but to his credit he did take a
bite of a carrot, and gagged. Baby steps. The quality of the foods we're eating is so much better, and though we've never really been a family that eats out much, I admit that I don't WANT to as much as I used to.
The most amazing thing that I've found is that I've slashed our grocery bill by more than half, just by being a little more vigilant. Not having that huge toy section is a big help, but mostly it's just shopping on sale and being mindful of what is getting
thrown into the cart. Because hubs can be a little picky at times, I've started making a dinner menu for a few days at a time based on what we have in the fridge. He can choose say three meals from a list of six, and decide on which night he wants what.
That way he has a little bit of a say in what we're eating, but he isn't overwhelmed with an entire week's menu at a time. Without fail I know that he isn't going to want to eat on Friday what he chose on Sunday. That's okay, I usually don't either! The
biggest money saver, I think, is that instead of shopping once per week, for the last two weeks I've been going every two or three days. I only buy what we need for those days, and nothing extra. Last week I threw an entire garbage bag of food waste away.
This week I threw away nothing. I also spent only 1/4 of my usual amount on groceries.
Yesterday I cracked. After spending $6.50 on King Arthur flour (twice) I made a trip to the big W to stock up on KAF, where it's half the price of the grocery store. I also bought six boxes of Barilla pasta, because it's cheaper there and they have the cellantani
curly noodles that Hubs is in love with. I also needed a few odds and ends that are really expensive at the grocery store, but my total at Walmart was still only $33. Now I'm not saying that I've found some sort of magical solution for cutting the grocery
budget, but it's certainly working for us. Walmart has it's place, and I'll probably never swear it off completely, but for our family the grocery store is definitely the way to go. The best part is that cooking is fun again. I really look forward to getting
the sales flier every Wednesday so I can start planning our menus. So "THANK YOU" to everyone on the RE who has brainstormed with me over the last 30 days, and listened to me whine about menu planning, budget-cutting, picky eaters and all of the other boring
minutiae of my life. Your recommendations have helped and motivated, and I want you to all know that I am so grateful for all of your help. Thanks again!