In my experience, grocery shopping can feel like a dreaded chore that seems to take forever and can get frustrating really fast. If you take a little bit of time to plan on the front-end, it can actually be a very pleasant experience that doesn’t take much time at all. If you hate going to the grocery store every week or if you’re looking for tips to make the most out of your trip, here are six ways to make your trip a little faster and a little less painful.
1 | WHERE YOU GO IS IMPORTANT
As consumers, we choose stores and who we buy from based on a number of things. When it comes to buying food, where you go is important based on what you’re buying. First, consider what’s on your list and what’s most important to you when it comes to buying food. Is fresh produce a must? Is quality meat your number one priority? Is the best deal what you’re after? Whatever is important to you will help determine what store is a good fit for you.
For more on choosing where to do your shopping, check out this post.
Once you’ve chosen a store, think about the store’s actual location. From experience, I can tell you that not all chain stores are created equal. If it’s a chain store, finding one that’s close to your home is important in making your trip as efficient as possible. But you may consider choosing a location that’s a bit further if the quality or service is better. Again, think about what you’re buying and what’s important to you.
For me, my cart tends to be around 50% fresh produce, so choosing a store that consistently has fresh, quality produce is really important to me. Here in Tennessee, Kroger is one of the main grocery stores, but just like any store, not all Krogers are created equal. I know which Krogers in town have what I most often shop for and that’s where I go. For me, I don’t mind driving a little further if I have to knowing that I will find everything on my list at the quality that I expect.
2 | WHEN YOU GO IS IMPORTANT
A busy grocery store is frustrating, period. Before you even step foot in the store you’re probably already irritated from lack of available parking spots or carts and you haven’t even started shopping yet. Most people grocery shop in the evenings (think after school/work hours), during their lunch break, or on the weekends. Most people shop during the obvious times that there’s is a break in their schedule. Finding a time that works with your schedule that is NOT during one of these times will really improve your experience. Plain and simply, don’t go during peak hours.
Besides avoiding a crowded store that can be difficult to navigate through, you’ll also save time by avoiding long lines. And items you’re shopping for are less likely to be out of stock. #winning all around.
Another tip on when you go- try to do it on a different day than you plan to meal prep. It will lessen the load of prepping. If you do most of your meal-prepping on Sunday, think about going Friday or Saturday.
For more on choosing when to do your shopping, check out this post.
3 | MAKE IT A HABIT
Now that you know where you’re going and when, work on making it a habit. No matter what your schedule is like week-to-week, try to create a habitual day and time around when you do your grocery shopping.
Making it a habit will make it feel less of a chore that you hate and dread doing every week and turn it into just something that’s part of your weekly routine. Making it a habit will also make you more efficient at it and you’ll know what to expect. You can block that amount of time out of your schedule to get it done. Once you’ve found a time and a day that works for you, it should feel like a breeze.
4 | MAKE A LIST
Lists keep us on task. Writing a list (or typing one in your phone) will keep you from not shopping with your stomach and it will make your trip to the grocery store much faster. It will also ensure that you don’t forget something. Trips to the store to get one thing are the worst. Shopping with a list will keep costs down, too, because you’ll only be buying exactly what you need.
When writing your list, think about the way your grocery store is set-up and write your list based on your path around the store. This has helped me keep my trip around the store fast because I’m not wasting time walking back and forth across the store. Even if you think you know what you need or you’re just stopping in to grab a few things, make a list anyways. (I’m sure you’re well aware of the $100 trap at Target - make a list). Even though I basically have my list memorized since I buy most of the same stuff each week, I still write a list.
5 | BRING YOUR OWN BAGS
This one is a little bit of a hidden gem because it’s a small thing that goes a long way. If you’re like me and you live some place where you have to haul your groceries from your car in the parking lot or parking garage to your building, up the stairs or hopefully an elevator, and then finally into your apartment, carrying a few larger (more durable) bags is much easier than a bunch of plastic bags. Or even worse, having to make two trips. Even if you park in your driveway and carry your load into the house, ain’t nobody like to make two trips.
This is also just part of being a responsible human. I won't link to articles or go into how many plastic bags we can tie together X number of times around the earth. But at this point in the game, you can pay a few bucks for reusable bags just about anywhere. And it's a very simple way to contribute to decreasing your personal footprint and not obtaining a collection of plastic bags that you shove under your sink because you don’t know what else to do with them.
If you do happen to have a collection of plastic bags shoved in some crevice of your kitchen, most grocery stores have a place to recycle them at the store. Look for a large cardboard box near the entrance of the store, usually near the carts. Get rid of your collection and invest in a few reusable bags.
6 | BE GRATEFUL
I understand this is America, but regardless, we are fortunate to have A LOT of grocery store options with readily available food at our fingertips. There are plenty of places around the world, including in our own country, where access to food is one of the biggest reasons for food insecurity. Next time you have a frustrating trip to the grocery store, take a deep breath and turn that frustration into gratitude for the yummy food you just got!
And now my challenge for you: Sign off and take a look at your schedule for the next week or even better, the next month, and set a day and time to do your grocery shopping (same day, time, and place each week). If you need to write it in your planner or add it to your iCal to make it official, then do that. Try it out for a month and see how it works with your schedule. If you grocery shop multiple times a week or at different grocery stores on different days, then block out each of those on your calendar. Grab your bags and your list and let me know how it goes!