Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Save Time! Ditch the Car!

This is counterintuitive, but NOT having a car actually saves me time.

Yup. Sounds unbelievable, but there it is.

The main reason is that since I don't have a personal tractor sitting in my driveway, I can't indulge in spur-of-the-moment (and mostly time-wasting) trips. I am forced into planning every car journey. Of course, I can still get on my bike or walk somewhere at the drop of a hat, but somehow that doesn't have quite the same magnetic attraction as getting into a vehicle and buzzing off to...usually a store somewhere. So not only do I save time, I save money!

I work full time. Working moms everywhere can appreciate that an organized schedule is a necessity. So, my meal planning is done weekly, written on the fridge, so everyone knows what we're having and knows what those items in the fridge are for. "No, honey, you can't drink the whipping cream, that's for dessert on Tuesday!"

If we need big-ticket items from Home Depot, Lee Valley, Garden Works, or IKEA, plans have to be made in advance and Mistress Modo booked accordingly.

Admittedly, this took a while to get used to. Since shopping is not one of my hobbies - I prefer what I call "targeted hits", or better yet, online shopping - it actually didn't take me long to cotton on to the planning part. The problem was judging how long it would take to actually do the shopping (so as not to get into trouble with the car booking), and deciding which stores to patronize regularly (so we're not running all over town).

The latter was actually rather agonizing, because, in the end, I've settled on what some might see as the corporate evil that is SuperStore. The main reason is actually that they've got everything under one roof, and that the prices are reasonable (although I should really be adding the price of Modo to the groceries!), and the produce selection quite good. There's even some organic stuff on offer these days.

We do use other more local stores on a fairly regular basis for specialty items (most important: the liquor store!) but one does get into a habit. And that's not a bad thing, is it? I mean, I know now that it'll take me 45-60 mins to complete my weekly shopping spree at the MegaMart, and I know exactly what I can and can't get there. Efficiency!

We did try (a couple of times) one of those delivery services where you order a box of stuff online and it comes to your house, but it turns out I have a hard time with buying produce online. I apparently can't judge the quantities from a generic picture (how big is a bunch of broccoli? how many apples in a kg?). Plus I can't get everything I need from these places, so I end up having to go to a "real" store almost weekly anyways. Kind of destroys the purpose.

And you know, the hell that is MetroTown is only a 15 minute Skytrain ride away, so my teenagers can get there all by themselves.