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How to shop for Christmas groceries

Christmas is right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas food. Creating a plan for your Christmas food shopping helps you avoid a desperate, last-minute dash to the shops. Let’s look at how to shop for Christmas groceries.

Christmas is right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas food. Creating a plan for your Christmas food shopping helps you avoid a desperate, last-minute dash to the shops. Let’s look at how to shop for Christmas groceries.

Create a detailed shopping list

If you’re not used to buying groceries with a shopping list, Christmas is the perfect time to start. You should create a detailed list of everything you need for Christmas. There are two benefits to this. 

First, it means you buy everything you need and want. It’s easy to forget about certain products in a shop full of stressed shoppers. You might run around only to realise you forgot the duck fat for the roast potatoes. Without a list, you might also keep adding things you don’t even need to your shopping cart. When you get home, you start wondering why you have seven types of cream cheese. A detailed list guarantees you buy what you need and want for Christmas.

The second benefit means you stick to your budget when you shop with a list. You can plan for your Christmas groceries and ensure you don’t overspend. You’re not picking random items, and you have an estimate on how much you need to spend. Don’t forget to check out our tips for shopping Christmas groceries on a budget if you want to avoid spending a fortune this year. 

When you sit down to create a shopping list, here are the things you need to consider:

Identify perishables and non-perishables

When you are creating a shopping list, focus on non-perishables. You can buy these goods in advance, and they include things like flour, pasta, rice, and cookies. If you want to avoid having to carry several shopping bags, you can shop for these items on your list a few weeks before your big Christmas shop. 

Keep in mind that you could freeze certain fresh goods. You can pop the turkey in the freezer, chop your vegetables ready for defrosting on Christmas Day and even make your mince pies in advance. 

Plan around social events

Christmas might be a bit different this year due to the pandemic. Keep in mind any restrictions on social gatherings. Follow the official guidelines to ensure we all have a safe Christmas. 

Typically, you always want to plan around social events. If you know you’d be spending Boxing Day down at the pub with friends, you shouldn’t necessarily buy lunch for that day. If you have family coming over and they always bake a Christmas cake and cookies, don’t stock up on those. You don’t want to end up having your cupboards full of foods you don’t have time to eat.

Prepare for possible shopping restrictions

If you have a big household and you’re planning to buy multiples of the same product, keep in mind any shopping restrictions. For instance, Tesco currently limits the amount of pasta and flour you can buy in a single shop. While other supermarkets have not yet outlined similar plans, things can change quickly, and you should prepare for that. 

Track your list whenever you buy something

Update your list when you buy things to stay on track. If you divide your shopping into multiple trips, you need to know what you’ve already bought. Tick off the items as soon as you buy them and revise your list if needed.

Come up with a shopping schedule

As well as making a detailed shopping list, it’s a good idea to schedule your shopping. Here are some vital points to consider when creating a shopping schedule.

The best time to shop to avoid crowds

If you are looking to avoid the crowds, then you should do most of your shopping well before Christmas week. Supermarkets say the busiest time is always the Saturday before Christmas so avoid the weekend shop. 

Since Christmas falls in the middle of the week this year, you could do your shopping on Monday. It shouldn’t be too crowded, and it’ll give you enough time to buy fresh produce. 

For those heading to the shops right on Christmas Eve, the shops are the quietest in the four hours before closing. You might find emptier shelves, but if you aren’t afraid to improvise and buy what you can get, then this is a great time to shop.

Shops are not closed forever

Nowadays, you don’t have to do a massive shop for Christmas. Shops are open on Boxing Day and on Christmas Eve, which means you don’t have to survive for days without a shop. 

If you like doing a big shop, then head to the stores on the 23rd or 24th and buy everything you need to get through Christmas. If you’d rather shop small, then you can plan to make another trip to the store right on Boxing Day. 

Shopping online for Christmas groceries

Ordering your groceries online is a wonderful way to avoid the crowds. But getting a delivery slot can be difficult, especially this year. You usually have to book them well in advance. You can still look around for what’s available but don’t get your hopes up on getting a slot this late. Look out for supermarkets announcing the availability of extra slots, too.

Shop for Christmas groceries without the stress

Shopping for Christmas groceries can be a bit of stressful. If you must do your shopping during rush hours, you have to approach the trip with a plan. The shops are full of people, and the current social distancing rules add to the stress. Having a detailed list and scheduling your shopping can help make it slightly less stressful. 

You should also shop for Christmas groceries with these three rules in mind:

  • Eat before you shop to avoid getting hangry (hungry and angry)
  • Don’t go shopping if you’re super tired
  • Leave enough time for your shopping trip 

You’ll find the experience much nicer when you follow these rules. You might even come back from the shops with plenty of spare time. Pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and sneak in a mince pie, knowing you’re ready for a wonderful Christmas!

Krista Lomu

Krista Lomu

Krista has been writing about finance for nearly a decade. Based in London, she hopes to turn even the most complicated topics to approachable and interesting for readers. When she's not writing and working with small businesses, she likes to read, watch football and play games - fuelled on by many cups of coffee!
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