You’ve surely heard the old adage: Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry. It’s a good one, because you will find yourself grabbing things based on desire and not need.
But I have a few more pointers to share.
My biggest tip is to always, always make a list!
Whenever I try to wing it. I spend more money and end wandering longer and much less effectively through the store making myself tired and frustrated.
Another consequence is getting home from that aimless trip to realize I’ve forgotten something we really needed. What a waste of time to make a second trip and how disappointing is it to go without something you need when you’ve just left the place that has it.
I’ve written about this grocery list thing before because…it’s important. But here I go again.
Write it down. It helps. I will even sit in the car for a moment to make a list if I haven’t done it before leaving the house. Actually, and in full disclosure, I’m usually always making my list while sitting in the car in the parking lot. Getting there is half the battle. I don’t always have the luxury of uninterrupted time to sit and write my list out at home. I may however have made a note in my phone of missing or depleted items and I will reference that.
As for my list, I start with the meals I want to eat and prepare for the week then break down my list by department. It makes the trip much smoother. I hate to back track through the store for something in the dairy aisle when I’ve already been there. And if I have the children along, it can turn into a certain level of torture.
So for your reading pleasure I’ve created this helpful, handy printable. The link is below
But first! Some tips. Let the Grocery Games begin! May the odds be ever in your favor.
1. Make a list. All of my reasoning is above and there’s a helpful printable below.
2. Cool off, cool off. Shop from hot to cold. In other words, don’t hit the frozen foods first. If you do that your ice cream will have melted by the time you finish shopping. Start with produce, and dry goods, end with the refrigerated and finally frozen items. When buying the produce, try to keep it away from the bigger portion of the cart. If I don’t have the children, I will place fruit and veggies in the top portion of the cart that is designated for small children. If that seat is taken, I will either place it right underneath that seat or put it on the bottom rack beneath the cart. This keeps it from getting smushed by other things to come. And allows me to bag them up last, too so they are more likely to be on top of all the other grocery items once everything is packed.
3. Learn the land. Listen. Unless you are going to hire someone like me to do your shopping or use one of the delivery services, you will need to go to the local grocer on a pretty regular basis, for survival and stuff. And like most people, you’re likely to visit the same one most of the time. It’s probably the one closest to your home, or your job. Wherever it is, you need to familiarize yourself with the layout. For instance you should know when you enter the store, is the bakery to the left or the right? Where is the produce in relation to that? Knowing is half the battle. It makes your mission very efficient. When you have a list and know where things are you can be in and out in 30 minutes or less (depending on the lines, which brings me to my next point)
5. Go off peak. I have the best experience when the stores are not crowded. This means early in the morning on weekends and that’s anywhere from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. You may have to use self checkout, though if you go that early. The alternative is to wait for the midday rush to pass. Saturday or Sunday evenings are generally calmer than the middle of the day from noon to say 4 p.m. The calm begins at about 6 p.m. on the weekends. On weekdays Do NOT go during rush hour between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. That can be a headache as big as sitting in the traffic. That crowd is picking up dinner items at the last minute (without a list) and they’re hungry, tired and cranky. If I go on a weekday, it’s a Thursday evening, close enough to the weekend to count as my shopping for the following week.
6. Throw it in the Bag! Buy the reusable bags. Trust me. They are worth all ninety nine cents. They’re reusable and therefore good for the environment. They are cute as can be. But, more importantly, they are very practical. They streamline your load making it easier to pack the car and unpack when you get home. You can actually organize your bags into categories. I have one that is insulated for frozen or refrigerated items, then the others are packed with things that are similar. Non-food items have a bag, produce has its own bag. The pantry items are usually all in one and you don’t have to fuss with the fifty eleven plastic bags all over the place or things rolling out in the trunk. These hold up and keep things in place. When we get home it is much easier to put everything away. (I will, however, ask them to put meats in a plastic bag first, no one wants chicken juice aka salmonella all over the place.)
4. Go Solo. If you are a parent, whenever possible…and leave the kids out of this!
Click here for the printable: Grocery List