Save Time Grocery Shopping

Unless you enjoy grocery shopping, here are some ideas for saving time when you go in search of the family's food and drink.

Grocery shopping tends to be one of those chores that people love or hate. If you don't care for the idea of strolling aisle after aisle in pursuit of the best food bargains, the following suggestions might save you time and steps.

1. Always take a list. You know how it goes. You stop in a small grocery store for a gallon of milk and walk out with three bags of non-necessities. How did it happen? Most likely you did not have a list or you didn't follow it. It may be also that you were hungry or thirsty. Research shows that people who went shopping feeling discontented in either of these two ways tended to buy more than those who didn't.

2. Organize your list. Separate items into food groups, such as veggies, dairy, meat, etc. Or classify them according to the store's layout. For example, if you will pass the bread section first, list all the items from this area that you wish to purchase. Then do the same for the dairy, the produce, the cosmetics, and so on. Try to avoid listing items that will allow you to cruise by the snack aisles. Of course, you can always add a few to your list and control them via budget and planning, at least hopefully!


3. Go shopping in tandem with another task. Stop after work, after buying gasoline for the car, or when dropping off clothes for the dry cleaner's. That way you won't feel like lingering at the store, and won't have time even if you do want to. You'll also save time by routing two or more tasks for the same outing, almost like a delivery person. And that means you may be able to conserve gas costs and mileage for your car.

4. Plan a menu in advance. If your list of intended purchases is linked to specific meals for the week ahead, you may be less likely to pick up additional items and browse new offerings or samples. Instead, you can stay focused on completing the task of getting just the items on your list. Then you will feel as though you have accomplished a meaningful chore without wasting time or money.

5. Organize coupons, checkbook, and identification. Have all these items, along with any others you need to shop with, ready for the asking at the checkout line. Don't get caught having to dig through layers of receipts, photos, and stubs in your purse or wallet as irate customers wait impatiently behind you. Consider using the price-savings tag, if the store has one, on your key chain for ready availability.

6. Shop at low-traffic times. Early morning, mid-afternoon (at certain stores), and later evenings are often quiet shopping times, depending on where you live. Check out your store of choice to find out when fewer customers come in, or ask at the service department. Then you can zip in and out to save even more time, while keeping other appointments and schedule needs intact.

Grocery shopping can be worked into your schedule in a low-key way if you take time to plan it out as you would any other time-intensive task. Then enjoy your newfound minutes and hours in the same way as you might in discovering extra money.

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