10 Grocery Shopping Tips To Save Time and Your Sanity

My last several trips to the grocery store have reminded me about this post that I wrote last year so I’m sharing it again here in case you didn’t see it the first time. Just the other day I had people squeezing past me to get to what they needed. Um, ok. A simple “excuse me” will suffice and can go a long way! Sometimes I feel like I should pass out these grocery shopping tips to those I encounter in the store! Ok, well, maybe not. But I hope you find some of them helpful and maybe you’ll share a few or two with some of the shoppers in YOUR store. They’ll likely save everyone time and hopefully some of our sanity too. Happy Shopping!

10 Grocery Shopping Tips for Saving Time and Your Sanity | MealPlanningMagic.com
Have you noticed that the grocery stores are tad more crowded this time of year? Or maybe a lot more crowded? It seems that no matter what the practice is the rest of the year, November through December seems to bring a surge of cooking and baking—whether it’s for entertaining, baking with the kids or making that special holiday meal. And that can mean confused shoppers who wander up and down the aisles looking for ingredients they may not normally use.

Besides our grocery lists, there’s one thing we all should bring to the store these next couple of weeks (well, and any time!): patience. A few weeks ago I asked my Facebook fans what tips they had for making the shopping experience a bit easier and I’m sharing some of them here. I’ve also added a few of my tips too!

Shop at non-peak times if you can. But keep in mind some specialty departments like the meat counter, pharmacy and deli often close earlier than the rest of the store so find out your favorite store’s hours and adjust accordingly. The busiest times are generally weekday evenings (between 5-7 p.m.) and weekend mornings (or in our area, all day on Sunday!) I know when my kids were younger, we’d often head out really early (because they were up anyway!) or I would go shopping after they were in bed and my husband could stay home with them.

Keep phone calls short & sweet. If you need to make or answer a call on your phone, move to an area where you’re not blocking the aisle. Meandering down an aisle unaware of those around you, while not as bad doing that on the road, is just plain inconsiderate. This is especially important when you’re pushing a giant kid’s cart. (And believe me, I’ve been there, done that—those things are hard enough to maneuver much less try to multi-task and push at the same time!)

Mind your carts & buggies. Don’t leave your shopping carts unattended in the middle of the aisle. If you need to park your cart, try to do it to the side or in an out of the way area so that others can still get around you to continue shopping. And if what you need is on one side of the aisle, keep your cart with you. Don’t park it on one side and then shop opposite of that. Nobody likes an aisle hog.

Keep social hour to the side. If you run into someone you know at the store (which I seem to do a lot!), move your carts to the side to chat. Who wants to be the grouchy customer that breaks up the party right there in the middle of the store? Be mindful and move your social hour over so others can be on their way with their shopping.

Use your words. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the store taking some extra time to compare prices, ingredients, etc. and found myself in my own little world only to turn around when I’m done and discover someone has snuck up silently behind me , waiting for me to move so they can get what they want. I feel bad because if they had just asked I would have gladly moved out of the way for the minute they need to grab what they want. Most people won’t bite if you politely ask them to move so you can get what you need so use those words and ask nicely.

Don’t wander aimlessly and bring a list. If you’re not sure which aisle to go down, move to the side of the main aisle and look for the aisle markers to try and figure it out. Or ask an employee where something is. Even if they are working in one department, they most often know the layout of the whole store and can help you out. Or make your own customized shopping list that lists items by aisle so you can just go up and down as needed and spend less time hunting for things!

Put things back in their place. If you decide not to get something, put it back where it belongs, especially if it is refrigerated. No need to waste food unnecessarily. Consider it a Random Act of Kindness or a pay-it-forward kind of a thing to help out a store employee from coming upon misplaced food and have to deal with it.

Treat others how you want to be treated. Be nice to the employees, especially if you need something. As the saying goes, you’ll attract my bees with honey than you do with vinegar and everyone appreciates a little kindness. If you (or your kids) spill something, let an employee know immediately so that no one slips and falls on it. Common sense, y’all!

Help the kids help you. I know many of you will be bringing kids who are out of school to the store during this holiday season. Check out this post I wrote this past summer. It might help you get in and out of the store a bit more quickly—and with your patience intact!

Corral those carts. After you’ve left the store and put the groceries into your car, the consideration doesn’t stop there. Take the extra minute or two to put your cart in the designated cart corral. Not only will it keep your cart from potentially hitting another person’s car but who couldn’t use a little bit of extra exercise? (Tip: If you have children and don’t want to leave them, next time try to park close to the cart corral so that when it comes time to leave it is closer to you and easier for you to put the cart there).

Most of these tips are common sense but in our haste to get our to-do lists checked off we can all sometimes need a reminder of how to make the shopping experience for ourselves and others go a little more smoothly. Last of all, don’t forget your reusable bags and an extra dose of patience!


  1. says

    I am relatively new to your blog and while I don’t often comment I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your posts and the work you do here. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Blessings…Mary

    • Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) says

      Hi Mary! Thanks so much for your kind words–they mean so much to me! And I am glad that you have found so many helpful resources here. Have a wonderful holiday too!

  2. says

    Hi Brenda — Love this post. These tips are common sense, but I think we could all use a reminder about them, especially around the holidays. Your last tip about putting the cart back I think a lot of people could use a reminder about. Think about the poor cart boys who have to collect all those things? In the rain and snow? Ugh. That would be one tough job. Anyway, happy holidays and I look forward to more planning posts in the new year!
    -Annakate @ http://www.JustAPinch.com

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