Pack Your Bags: It’s About More Than Just Meal Planning

This drives me crazy. All these grocery bags. The greenie in me cannot get rid of them yet they are piling up and taking up way too much space. Plus we do use them for some things. Like our trash bags (yes, kitchen trash!) but I don’t need THIS many. And I think what drives me even crazier is that I have a bunch of reusable bags that I normally bring to the store. But for the last month or so I kind of got out of the habit. Occasionally they were taking out of my van to make space for hauling other cargo. But I really can’t blame that too much.

And even though I usually talk about meal planning, I think HOW we shop is also about meal planning. It goes back to thinking about not only what we’re putting in our bodies but how we get it home and where it comes from.

Last week I asked on my Facebook page how many people use reusuable bags. I was surprised by the results. Generally they were split—only about half use reusable bags and those with them often forgot to bring them into the store. So I have a couple of simple tips that have worked for me to get back into the habit—and that’s what it is, a habit.

1. Put the bags in a place that you can’t help but remember to bring them. After I’ve unloaded my groceries I hang the bags on the doorknob of the front closet nearest the front door. I have to pass it to go outside so I grab the bags on my way out.

After i've unpacked, I hang the bags on the front closet door so I can't help but remember it as I head out the door!

2. Keep the bags in your vehicle. You can’t bring them into the store if they’re not with you. I keep them all grouped together in one bag and they store neatly in the back of my van.

Keep the bags in your vehicle so they're always with you--no excuses!

3. Use notes. My philosophy is if I can write it down then it’s off my mind and I can use my mind for more important things. Sticky notes are perfect. You can put them on your purse, put them on the steering wheel, put them near the radio or even on the driver’s side window. Just choose the place that makes the most sense for you.

A sticky note on the steering wheel is an in-your-face reminder!

Or maybe on the radio area makes more sense for you.

Or even on the driver's side window--can't miss it when you're opening the door!

4. Involve your family. When my children were younger I gave them the job of helping us remember to bring the bags. As soon as we arrived at a store, they would announce ‘don’t forget the bags!’ Kids love to have something they’re responsible for and before long it had become a habit!

I hope these tips will help you form a new habit. Next up for me, to try and convince the cashiers and sackers at my local grocery store that I’m not that weird lady who brings in all the reusable bags but someone that cares about the environment I’ll be doing great. Oh, and that just because it’s big it doesn’t need to be filled to the brim (and thus, super heavy!) I have a feeling that will take a little longer than I might hope.

This is our kitchen trash bag--uses grocery bags! Yep, it's that small for a family of four. With composting and recycling, we take it out about every other day.


  1. says

    I unpack my groceries right away and then hang up the empty reusable bags on the doorknob of the front door. The next time I go out I grab the bags and put them in my van. My other incentive is that my main grocery store is “bagless”. About three years ago they stopped using plastic bags. So if you forget to bring your reusables, you can either load the groceries back into the cart after the checkout and bring them to your vehicle with no bags, or you can buy more reusable bags for 99 cents each.

    • Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) says

      Just like me with the bags on the front door (well, close for me anyway!) Love that the grocery store is proactive about encouraging use of resuable bags. Here in Texas we’re a little slow to catch on to the whole green thing…especially the store where I shop where a lot of the people are a bit old school. But I keep using my bags as often as I remember. Just this week, I got a comment from the sacker that he liked my reusable produce bags. First time I’d gotten a positive comment rather than a roll of the eyes about how they can’t see the PLU code for the produce. I’ll persist and hope that eventually it will catch on with others! :-)

  2. says

    I wish our grocery store would go bagless! I always have them in our cars and take them everywhere. It makes me crazy that even for one item they have to stick it in a bag OR put a tag on it. I’m three feet from the door with the receipt in my hand. I make them crazy because if I don’t have a bag I want to carry it all out without it.

  3. Gail Becker says

    I do use reuseable cloth bags for groceries, going to the post office & going to the library ( holds 20 books good)!!! I don’t need notes to remind me! I love resuseable bags!!!

  4. says

    You can send me your plastic bags, I use them for every garbage can in the house except the kitchen (4 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 office – depending how full they get, that’s up to 8 bags/week!). Ever since I bought a set (OK maybe more than that) of Envirosax reusable bags, they are so gorgeous I am proud to take them into the store, any store, I’ve gone as far as taking things OUT of plastic bags when cashiers automatically bag them, and putting them into my reusable bags… so that’s good, but I’m always short in plastic bags for our garbage. There’s only so often I’ll re-use a plastic bag, especially if it’s for trash… so I usually end up going to the bag recycling bin at the grocery store and discreetly swiping a bag or two for my own re-use… I honestly don’t think anyone will mind (they are after all destined for recycling, not reuse)


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