Some people are obsessed with saving money. While I do enjoy my fair share of frugal finds, I personally am obsessed with saving time. Figuring out the most efficient way to do just about anything is my idea of a good time. Nowhere is this more satisfying to me than at the supermarket. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at getting in and out of the store in record time, without missing anything and with pretty-close-to-perfectly packaged bags. I’m sure you sense a tone of arrogance here, but I’m so passionate about my supermarket skillz that I’m not even going to pretend to be modest about this. I am just that good.
I actually enjoy grocery shopping, but my philosophy with any errand (or chore, for that matter) is, why linger at the store for over an hour back-tracking the aisles when you could be doing other things more important and fun things? I have to stress, however, that it isn’t only about running errands quickly, it’s also about efficiency. It’s way better to take the time to plan upfront and do it right the first time. In the end it will save you way more time and energy.
So without further ado, here are some of my tips for supermarket success:
1. Always make a list ahead of time. Always. If you find yourself buying the same core items every week, it might help to create and save a “standard” list on your computer or phone, print it each week and then add to it depending on what your supplemental grocery needs might be for the week. Take a look at my grocery list from a few weeks ago (posted above). Every week I buy fruit, vegetables, milk, yogurts, and cereal. Since I’m completely nuts, I actually enjoy writing out my list each week (I also change up the fruit and veggies I’m getting depending on the time of year…let’s pretend that’s my real reason…). But what I could do if I wanted to save some time on the thinking and the writing was just have that short list of items saved somewhere and then tacked on the other things for that particular week like balsamic vinegar and our favorite Rao’s marinara sauce.
2. Organize your list. Group the items on your list based on your local store’s layout. On my list I’ve matched each ‘section’ of food to a different aisle, and they are listed in the order of how the aisles are in the store. So when I first walk in I can start knocking off everything at the top of the list, and keep sweeping through the store. This prevents you reaching aisle 12, and then realizing the last item on your list was all the way in aisle 1. Amateur move, and a waste of time.
3. Save time at the checkout line! You can manage the speed at which you move through checkout by being smart about how you group your items on the belt. First, I group frozen foods together so they can stay cold-ish on the way home. Then I alternate a few heavy/bulky items on the belt with some smaller packages to fill in empty space when they reach the shopping bags. This should help distribute the weight in your bags. I always leave produce last since those items have to be keyed in and weighed. Otherwise, if the clerk is looking up codes and weighing every few items, it totally takes them out of their scan-and-pass rhythm.
It takes a while to get the hang of planning and shopping like this, but once you have it down, it really can save you a lot of time and energy at the store. Or really on any errand, for that matter. Now get out there and dominate that next grocery run!