It’s something I do just about every week. And time after time I buy the same produce, move through the same aisles, try to pick the fastest checkout line, and then try to avoid the slow-moving pedestrians while getting out of the parking lot. Over the years, I’ve developed these tips I live by to quickly get the shopping done and get back to the rest of my day! I hope they help you too.
- Sort your list. The advice of making a list before going to the grocery store is a great way to help ensure I don’t buy more than what I intend, saving me money. But in order to save time, I almost always sort my grocery list. I’ve been shopping at the same grocery store for years and while they occasionally move items here and there, the basics stay the same. Once I get a cart, I go through produce, dry goods, meats, dairy, and then frozen foods before checking out. Sorting my list in advance (while making it, for bonus points!) helps me quickly pick up what I need from each section before moving to the next, without having to go back and forth around the store. It also helps me avoid going down extra aisles and picking up additional items we don’t need to buy. And of course, save your frozen foods for last to avoid defrosting them before you can get home.
- Avoid the parking spot at the front of the store and instead park near the parking lot exit. It sounds great to park right by the door, but I’m then delayed getting out of the parking lot because of all the pedestrian traffic trying to get to and from their own cars. By parking on the side of the store closer to the exit to the parking lot, I avoid having to drive directly past the front of the store when I’m ready to get my melting ice cream home to the freezer.
- Temper your speed at the self-checkout. If you’re like me, you’ve experienced the frustration of going faster than the self-checkout can process that you’ve already put the last item in the bag and are trying to scan the next thing. Trying to tag-team scanning and bagging is also a recipe for disaster with the machine quickly getting confused. Sometimes the self-checkout can be faster than the human lines, but those machines just aren’t savvy enough yet to keep up with us expert baggers. Better to go at a slightly slower speed here to avoid having to call the assistant over for help when you confuse it.
- Ask for paper bags, or better yet, bring your own reusable bags. In my experience, paper bags can hold about 3 times as many groceries as plastic bags, and reusable bags are even sturdier. This lets you get out of the store with fewer grocery bags, making loading and unloading the car that much faster.
- Use the smaller two-shelf cart. It’s much easier to zip around the store with the smaller cart than the deep one that sticks out several feet in front of you. It’s safer too if you’re really shopping in a hurry! Since we do our bulk purchases at Costco each month, our weekly trip is usually a short enough list that I don’t need the longer cart. This doesn’t apply when I bring our baby with me to the grocery store and need the larger cart (or Louise’s current favorite, the one with the “car” up front), but when alone, the smaller cart is far better for efficient grocery shopping. Another plus? Its smaller size means less room for those extras that weren’t on the grocery list, keeping me within my grocery budget.
These tips have helped me grocery shop efficiently and I hope they can help you save time and money. How else have you perfected the art of grocery shopping? Let me know in the comments below!