Tips to Organize Grocery Shopping
Hate grocery shopping? Online delivery services have become pretty popular where I live, but I’m still old school, and I like to go shopping for groceries. I just don’t love it. I want to get in and out of the grocery store quickly. If you have better things to do, maybe some of these tips to organize grocery shopping will help you.
Simplify and Organize Grocery Shopping at Smaller Stores
I recommend shopping at a smaller store. I prefer ALDI, or you can choose whatever smaller store you can find in your community. People have gotten used to going to the larger stores, but we just don’t need 28 different choices of peanut butter! People are tired when they get home, and adding more decisions to their day can lead to “analysis paralysis,” where it just takes longer to come to the “best” decision. Trader Joe’s is another small store that I like, and it happens to be the sister store to ALDI. When it comes to grocery stores, bigger isn’t always better. I’ve shopped ALDI in several different states and also in Australia. I LOVE that they are the exact same format, no matter where you go.
Another good option is the grocery section of Target. It's as good as a smaller grocery store. They tend to have a few more aisles than ALDI but a LOT less than the average grocery store. And, of course, you can pick up non-grocery things on the same run.
A farmer’s market is also a better bet than a big grocery store just because it’s smaller, and its products might be fresher and healthier than the stuff in the big stores, although that’s not a guarantee.
You would think that Whole Foods and their local competitors (We have Kimberton Whole Foods here in Philly and MOMS market), would fit into the “smaller store” model, but they are always so congested and overpriced that I don’t think you save much time or money if you are doing most of your grocery shopping there. Most of my friends purchase a few luxury items there, and then do the bulk of their shopping at our larger chains, Giant and —the sexy mother of all grocery stores — Wegmans, which I just do not have the mental or physical energy to wrestle through anymore.
It looks like ALDI’s direct competitor in Germany called LIDL is planning to come to the United States in 2018. Should be interesting. I’d love to hear from my overseas readers if they like this store.
How to Save Time in the Grocery Store
Have a list, have a list, have a list. People waste both time AND money when they buy on impulse. If you like different meals seasonally, have a list of favorite meals for each season. Or have a list of the basics that you almost always need, and then add to it.
This is where online shopping works really well, too. If you have a list of staples that you love to have on hand, those items are perfect for online delivery. Whether you use an online delivery service like Amazon Pantry or a local store service like Instacart or Peapod, you can put those items on autopilot, so you’ll always have the basics on hand.
At ALDI, and many warehouse types of stores, you bag your own groceries. I love the Tote Buddy, for keeping your own re-usable bags in your car, therefore easy to reach, always accessible and not causing clutter in the home. See how it works at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7886XS8o3is
If you have health goals, or just want to get out of the store faster, stick to shopping the perimeter of most groceries stores, where you’ll find the fruits, veggies and fresh foods. If you do need to head into the aisles, don’t wander up and down each aisle “just in case.” Pick your aisle and head to the items on your list, almost with blinders on, in order to get out quickly.
When packing groceries at the store, I create groups of products based on where I’ll be unpacking them at home. In the store, I pack bags for refrigerator items, freezer items and pantry items. By packing bags like this, the cold items stay cold, and I save time unpacking. Some of the kitchens in today’s homes are huge, so saving steps is a really big deal. Here’s a photo of how I pack my groceries at ALDI.
Lastly, and this is not to be overlooked, delegate putting away the groceries once you get home. My kids as young as 6 years old help me. This does a couple of things. It forces me to label the shelves, so they know where things go, which makes our whole household work better. I even labeled inside the freezer! It also trains the kids to help out, and they get a glimpse of what we buy, so they know what is available for dinner or snacks. It also reduces my stress level, which also cannot be overstated.
Darla DeMorrow owns HeartWork Organizing near Philadelphia, with hands-on help for families to reclaim space and sanity. Her book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur, helps women deliver strong babies and profits.