How to stay sane at the grocery store

Photo by Anne Preble on Unsplash

Do you enjoy grocery shopping or do you squarely fall into the camp of grocery store haters? I know so many people that hate going to the store, but for me, it’s the opposite. I actually enjoy grocery shopping and I enjoy the prep process.

I still like to be fast and efficient when I do it though. I tend to visit 2-3 stores on my weekly shopping trips, but I can usually get it all done within one to 1.5 hours. I think that’s pretty good.

So, here’s a list of tips to make this mandatory weekly chore a bit more pleasant.

1. Meal plan.

I mentioned this on this blog before (and it still applies), we meal plan which makes the whole process of grocery shopping more stream-lined and efficient. Every Thursday night we write out a list of meals for the next week and add things to the shopping list accordingly.

2. Keep a running shopping list.

I have a list in Evernote (which I can access from my phone) and where I can easily add things when I notice that we’re about to run out of something. On Thursday, I add the rest of our meal planning ingredients to it, and voilà, there’s your complete shopping list.

3. Write your shopping list according to the shop layout.

I know people who write out their shopping lists by store department (e.g. meats, produce, dairy, frozen, etc.), which makes sense, but I actually go a step further and write my list out by aisles the way I’ll walk through the store. If you shop at the same stores, you’ll soon know the layout of the store. I walk the aisles in the same order every time and my grocery lists is written accordingly, which makes for a much quicker trip through the store.

4. Pick a good time to shop.

If you want to make grocery shopping quick and painless, pick a good time to go to the store. I usually try to go on Fridays shortly before or after lunch time. I know I have the luxury of doing my grocery shopping on my day off, but there are other times during the week that are not peak hours (e.g. Wednesday nights).

5. Help bagging.

That’s a pet peeve of mine, but I see so many people standing around with their arms crossed while the clerk rings up the items and bags them afterwards. SMH. I mean, unless there is a second person there to bag the groceries, be proactive and help bagging your own purchases. Not only will this speed up the time you spend at the store, you’ll also have the freedom to pack your stuff the way you like. I often like things grouped a certain way, heavy stuff in my canvas bags, smaller stuff in my basket. (Not to brag, but store clerks have commented on my badass bagging skills and wanted to know if I had worked as a grocery bagger before. Nope, just a skilled, common-sense human being over here. Haha.)

Do you have any more tips to make grocery shopping fast and efficient?

  1. Great tips! Hubby and I hate grocery shopping so we knock out the trips together (so we’re equally miserable). Like you, we have our two stores that we visit all the time so we have our routine down to a science. We pretty much do what you do and a few more things:
    1. Tag team – drag your partner, if you have one, and divide and conquer. You can knock it out so much quicker
    2. Go go a self-checkout lane, if available. Most people with a lot of groceries would rather wait and have someone else check them out. The self-checkout lanes go much quicker so I get through the check out process sooner rather than waiting
    3. Bring your own bags and bag your own groceries. The baggers are usually slow and inefficient so I push them aside and bag them myself. Plus I love Tetris so it becomes a game to maximize space

  2. I’m still working on the “write a meal plan, buy accordingly” (and I, not so secretly, admire you for being so good at it)… We do write a list, but always buy more and unfortunately still end up throwing away too much. But hey, at least I am aware of it and I really try to work on it!

  3. Love grocery shopping!!!
    It is usually ‚me time‘ for me too. But I basically just go to TJ and get everything I put on my list during meal planning. I now meal prep for three since the LO is not a big fan of school lunch and neither are we.
    Funny, I just had a conversation with the clerk at TJ about self bagging and that in Europe nobody would do that for you. I like to blame myself when the eggs crack! Lol
    Early Saturday mornings is my time to shop. TJ has then just refilled the shelfs! Perfect for me. :)

  4. I also write my list according to walking through the store. Drives me crazy if this gets messed up and I am sure to forget stuff. I wished meal planning would be an option but most times I have to throw things away.

  5. I stay sane by sending my husband. ;) I did not mind grocery shopping before we had Paul but after we had him, I did not enjoy going. Plus I do almost all of the cooking so we decided it was more equitable for Phil to do the grocery shopping since he doesn’t do much meal prep/cooking. We follow a similar approach to yours and it works well for us. We pretty much only go to one grocery store, though. Occasionally we will grab something from the premium grocery store that is 2 blocks away – like a couple of ears of corn if we decide we want some for dinner that night. But other than that we go to the big box store that is about a mile from our house. I can’t even wrap my mind around grocery shopping without meal planning!! I guess meal planning is just so second nature to us. I’d never know what to buy if we didn’t meal plan.

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