Blog , Lifestyle and Entertainment

Grocery Shopping Troubleshooting

Posted on Tuesday, August 3, 2021
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson

grocery-listFive useful tips from a retired professional organizer

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and returned home only to realize you forgot to buy a grocery staple such as the bread, the milk, or the eggs? Ever get in line and realize you forgot to bring your reusable grocery bags along? These types of forgetfulness often occur to people who are busy and are short on time. In haste to get from one place to another, or because we have a lot on our minds, small details simply get overlooked. Some great news – these and other problems can be prevented by creating a system for grocery shopping that can help troubleshoot some common issues.

1) Maintain a DIY grocery list – No need to spend money on fancy or costly apps. Simply create your own shopping list in your word processing program to print off your computer. Keep your list in a handy location, such as a kitchen, so that you may update what you need. The list should be tailored to what you buy and contain kitchen staples, such as flour, sugar, and salt, as well as specialty items and brands you regularly buy, such as Breyers mint chocolate chip ice cream, Dole bananas, and Nature’s Own whole wheat bread. When you run low on something, simply mark it on your list. Be sure to leave some space to write in “extras” for infrequently purchased items, such as a new can opener. When creating your list, group like items together, such as produce, paper/plastics, meats, and frozen foods, and go in the order in which your grocery store is laid out, from entrance to exit. That way you can walk through the store and grab items in order, so you don’t have to waste time or zigzag across the store. Before leaving home, be sure to take your list along. If you tend to forget your list, take a photo each time you update it (delete the previous photo) and that way you’ll always have a fresh back-up of your list on your phone. Or, if it’s easier, simply use the list feature on your iPhone to write down what you need.

2) Keep all your shopping bags in one place – Per staggering statistics shared by Penn State, Americans reportedly throw away as much as 100 billion plastic bags and only 1 to 3% get recycled. Nowadays, to prevent waste, it’s popular to use reusable grocery bags to help cut down on trash. Decide whether it’s best to keep the bags in the car or store them in a central location of the home, such as inside an entryway closet. If you generally shop on the same day each week, set a phone reminder to gather the bags around the time you generally go. When you get in the car, if possible, leave the shopping bags someplace visible, such as on the car’s front passenger seat. Or place a sticky note reminder on the outside of your handbag or inside your car door so that you don’t walk into the store without them. Getting into a set routine each time you leave for the store can help you remember to bring them.

3) Time your shopping trip – Learn when the grocery store is busiest and avoid going during those peak hours. Per Google Maps data as reported by, Monday at 8 am is least busy and Saturdays between 12 and 3 are busiest. Shopping when the store boasts a maximum of customers can lead to a plethora of issues, including “traffic jams” down the aisles, picked-over food, less attentive service, noisy crowds, lengthy waits at checkout, and more. Evaluate shopping patterns and learn how to take advantage of sales during off-peak hours. Not only can this save you time, but it can also greatly reduce the stress of being surrounded by other impatient shoppers who may steal your parking space or try to jump ahead in line. Going at off-peak hours also gives you more time and less distractions, less crowded parking, and enables you to focus and watch out for damaged goods and scanner overcharges.

4) Understand what products to buy in bulk – Food waste is a common occurrence in the U.S. and buying in bulk can sometimes contribute. Per RTS the US discards nearly 40 million tons of food per year, more food than any other country. Be thoughtful about what you will use, and how long food products will last. Generally, perishable items such as lettuce or giant bags of oranges are not great to buy in bulk unless you plan to use them right away, as they may spoil quickly. However, items like paper plates, napkins, and paper towels, assuming you regularly use them, are sometimes cost effective when purchased in bulk. Be sure to compare cost-per-unit prices (sometimes listed on the store shelf label) to confirm that you are getting a deal. Be sure to compare buying two or more individual packages of the same product, equaling close to the same quantity offered in the bulk package. If you can combine bulk purchase savings with additional store sales, it may lead to significant savings. However, bear in mind that sometimes bulk items are excluded from sales as they are often sold at discount prices based on quantity. Also, make sure you’ll have enough room at home to store your purchases, as bulk items can take up a lot of storage space.

5) Manage heavy bags – Most grocery stores are willing to help their customers by offering help to bring groceries out to the car. This can be a lifesaver for people with preexisting medical conditions, for those with small children, and for the elderly. If you cannot lift heavy bags, it is important to speak up and tell the teller or bagger so that the bags are not too bulky, overfilled, or heavy. In addition, consider keeping a lightweight wheeled rolling cart in the vehicle so that when you arrive at your destination, the cart can be used to transport groceries into the house. Or ask a neighbor you know and trust for help getting your groceries inside and unpacked. In addition, bring smaller reusable bags to the checkout, rather than ones that are larger and more difficult to manage.

By creating and sticking to a grocery list, applying some organization and time management skills, being a thoughtful shopper, and asking for help when needed, one can troubleshoot and prevent some grocery shopping related issues. For stores where you frequently shop, it’s great to be friendly with the manager and some employees. In many cases, they may guide you towards sales and provide valuable information, such as telling you the next delivery date for fresh local produce. Discovering new ways to turn your shopping trip into a more pleasant experience can turn your store’s sour lemons into delicious lemonade.

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Cindy Jones
Cindy Jones
2 years ago

We do these things. We keep a grocery list set up in the same order of the layout of our most shopped store: Veggies. Fruit, dairy, canned goods etc. Columns include most frequently purchased items spelled out with blank spaces under each column too. Across the bottom 5th of the paper are 7 small boxes in a row where we write the dinner menu for the week. Every weekend we plan the meals and shop for the next week. Plus, we can mark what to buy all week as we run out of something.

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