How to Cut Your Time at the Grocery Store in Half

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

You can’t avoid food shopping if you want to stick to your healthy eating goals. Empty pantries can lead to last-minute visits to fast food drive-throughs and other high-calorie choices. But if you find that a visit to the supermarket is a big time suck for you, these smart strategies will get you through the store quickly and efficiently, and ensure you have good food on hand whenever you are hungry:

Create your master plan.

The most valuable strategy for saving time at the grocery store is also a key to healthy eating: Choose your meals at the start of each week so you know exactly what you need to buy and you don’t waste time at the store deciding what to get.

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Check the deals.

You’ll save money as well as time by reviewing the store’s weekly specials at home, so you don’t have to spend time comparing prices while at the store. If you don’t get the paper sales flyer, most stores now post them online.

Make a list.

Use your menu plan and the sale items to create a shopping list to guide you through the store.

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Stock up.

Buy the largest packages of non-perishable and frozen items that you frequently use so you have to replenish them less often.

Organize your list.

Group the items on your list according to departments in the store in which they’ll be found. The major departments are produce, meat, seafood, dairy, frozen foods and non-perishables. If writing the list by department is too difficult, use highlighters to color-code items for each section.

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Stick with one store.

The more familiar you are with the store, the faster it will be to find everything you’re looking for.

Carry the card.

Supermarket loyalty cards give the store information about your purchases that it then uses to offer you enticement to shop there. In many cases, you get discounts on the products you buy most often. Sign up for the loyalty card and you won’t have to fumble with coupons when you’re checking out.

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Go on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Mid-afternoon in the middle of the week is the least busy time at supermarkets, so it’s ideal for breezing through quickly. Saturday is the busiest day, so avoid it at all costs.

Or go after 7 p.m.

Every evening after the dinner rush, the aisles clear at supermarkets and the checkout lanes are wide open.

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Don’t go hungry.

Supermarket merchandising is aimed at tempting you to buy more expensive items, often prepared foods that cost more and are more likely to include unhealthy ingredients. Don’t let hunger lure you away from your plan.

Go solo. You may hate shopping, but bringing along the kids or even a spouse can be a distraction and slow you down.

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Click the app.

Smartphone apps such as SplashShopper and Remember the Milk store your shopping lists so you don’t need to create a new one each week. They remind you of the things you’ve purchased before, and they offer other organizing tools that make all of your errands quicker and easier.

Pack in boxes.

Bring along cardboard boxes, like those that computer printer paper come in. Boxes are easier to pack and hold more items than plastic or reusable bags. They fit more efficiently in your car and a few full boxes are quicker to carry in and unload than bags.

Set up delivery.

Online ordering and home delivery is the fastest kind of grocery shopping. And more supermarkets than ever offer it for a very small fee.