Where to Shop at the Last Minute

My boys and I headed to Costco this morning around 11 a.m.; we drove into the parking lot and right back out. All hell had broken loose, with shopping carts ready to run over anyone in any way, cars included. I had passed Safeway on the drive over and saw the parking lot packed there too. Where do you think we headed? Fresh & Easy of course. Lots of parking available and plenty of deals to be had. I came in with $13 in coupons (two coupons are in last Sunday’s paper.)

I needed some Thanksgiving items, but I needed some weekly staples, like milk, too. I really don’t want to step foot in a grocery store tomorrow or Thursday and wanted to make sure I had enough food to keep our kitchen open through the holiday. I walked out having spent $67.76. Wanting to know how much my bill would have rang up to at Safeway, I did a little Safeway.com comparison.

If I would have shopped closer to home, it would have cost me an extra $30 or so. The same groceries at Safeway would have cost $106.01.

So, where should you shop at the last minute? It depends. How last minute are you? Don’t plan to save anything until Thursday. Just because you plan to buy your green beans fresh the morning of, doesn’t mean they aren’t the same green beans sitting in the store now. If you still need to shop, go. Go now. The longer you wait, the busier it gets.

If you have the coupons, drive to Fresh & Easy. If you have a list and have updated your Safeway card at Safeway.com, go there. If you need to feed 30 people, battle in Costco. If you are totally and completely out of your mind, go to Trader Joes. (Sorry Mom, I warned you.)

Maybe shopping while the store is busy doesn’t bother you. Perhaps you enjoy your time alone (if you go alone) with your ipod plugged in your ears and your shopping list. Chances are, you’ll spend more even if you aren’t in a hurry.

There is something about seeing people around you in a frenzy that signals your shopping fight or flight system to buy more. I probably didn’t need two gallons of milk, but the “storing up” for the holiday mindset got to me.

I bought extra cranberry  and marshmallow to ensure I wouldn’t have to go back to the store as well as to save for another time. (Freeze cranberries if you have extra.) Shopping before a holiday always costs extra.

I think I have mentioned before that kids are the anti-coupon. If you have your kids with you during hustle-bustle shopping time, you’ll of course spend even more. I brought ham sandwiches, apples and water into the store with us (in my purse and yes, I know I have turned into my own grandma.) Guess what happened? I still walked out with two sets of Juicy Juice boxed juice with Cars 2 characters on them and a 6 pack of Danonino. My kids love Danimals and Danonino. Barf.

Zack and Cody, always pimpin’ out the yogurt to my kids.

So, if you have to shop, be prepared. Throw a water in your purse, bring an ipod and stick to your list. The lines are gonna be long, so catch up on some tabloid gossip, download a new game on your phone or get all cah-razy and talk to someone else in line.

Tomorrow is the big #100 post. Don’t forget to come back!

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