5 Tips to Save Time in the Grocery Store

Going to the grocery store can be a big task that takes up a lot of our time. I’ve been guilty of running to the store at the last minute and then wandering around the store trying to figure out what I need to make for dinner this week. I stand in the middle of an aisle, staring at the shelves, trying to remember what ingredients I need to make a certain dish. The worst is when I have to go back to an aisle because I forgot something… again.

Going to the grocery store prepared can help you save a lot of time. Here are 5 tips  to help you save time in the grocery store.

Time Saving Tips for the Grocery Store. Printable grocery list. Printable menu planner.

#1 Meal Plan

Meal Planning is the first step in making a grocery list. Going to the store without a grocery list is a sure fire way to forget something and have to waste time going back later. The easiest way to make a grocery list is to first make a meal plan for the week. Think of each meal you are going to make that week and what ingredients you will need.

     Grocery List. Weekly Menu. Meal Planning. Save time in the grocery store.Weekly Menu. Meal Planning. Save time in the grocery store.

I have this really cute bundle of printables that includes a weekly meal plan template and grocery list. You can snag both here. There are also some really cool ones that you can get from amazon. 

#2 Always Make a Grocery List

After your menu is planned you use it to make your grocery list. I’m sure we are all familiar with the idea of a grocery list. Think of all the ingredients you need to make your planned meals and write those on your list. Then think of all the other items you buy. Do you shop for personal care items such as toothpaste or shampoo? What about paper towels and laundry detergent? Make sure those make the list as well.

#3 A Very Specific Grocery List – Best Tip Ever

Everyone makes an ordinary grocery list and these do help you save time and money. However, there is an even more efficient way to shop, that will save time in the grocery store, and money.

Put your grocery items on the list in the order that you shop through the store. I know… you are thinking, “This girl is crazy. Isn’t that a bit extreme? No one has time for that!”

So it may seem a bit over the top, but I promise it will help you get in and out and will help you not stray to items you do not need to be buying. Think of how you normally shop through the store. Most of us are creatures of habit and shop through the store in a certain order. Maybe you start in the personal care items and end in the produce like I do. Or maybe you get your dry goods first. If you don’t have a set path, then think of the layout of your store and make a mental map of how you think you could get through the store more efficiently.

Now that you know the path you will be taking you need to make you list with that path in mind. I go to the personal care items first, so my contact solution and body wash go on the top of my list. I then move to the paper goods area, so toilet paper would be next on my list. Then the canned goods and so on. I go through this whole process until I have mentally made it all the way through the store and every item is on my list.

When talking to some people about this, they automatically think I am taking the time to make two lists. One list of all the items, and then another list arranging those items in order. That takes way too long so I use a different method.

Put Your Grocery List into Categories

I section my grocery list into categories. These categories are naturally determined by the different sections of the store. My categories are, personal, household, refrigerator, dry goods, canned goods, meat, freezer, and produce. I look at my meal plans and I write each ingredient down in its corresponding category. Then, I think of the items I need that are not part of the meal plan and write those down in their corresponding category.

#4 Shop Like You are on a Mission

Now that you have your list, head to the grocery store and shop like you are on a mission. Enter the store, follow your predetermined path, and fill up your cart. I myself follow the same path every time I shop so this has become second nature to me. If it is new for you, you will get used to it quickly.

Having a plan and a path will help you stick to your list, be less likely to have to backtrack, and save money. You will save money because this plan will keep you focused and on track. You won’t impulse buy and you won’t stray into sections of the store where you don’t need items.

#5 Keep your cart organized

My last tip to save time in the grocery store, is to keep your cart organized. You are shopping by category, so place all the items from that section in your cart together. When you are checking out, continue to keep all of those items together as you are handing them to the cashier. This will ensure that they get bagged together. Then when you get home all of the pantry items are bagged together, all of the refrigerator items are bagged together, and so on. Then you just drop the bags next to where they need to be unloaded .

I know this may seem like a lot of extra work, especially up front. I promise it will save you time. It will get you through the store faster, unpacked faster, and keep you from having to return to the store the next day. All of these are wins in my book.

Don’t forget to snag your printable grocery list and matching meal planning sheet. Happy shopping!

Not too crazy about my grocery list printables? Here are a few other options.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Want to learn more about how to simplify your life? I want to help you stay on top of those day-to-day tasks and stay healthy doing it. Subscribe to my weekly updates and gain access to all my free printables.

28 Comments

  1. Brittany Giles

    July 11, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I adore these printables. I have a problem sticking to a list and I def need to do better!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      There are definitely times where I do not make a list. I always regret it though. Good luck in possibly starting a new grocery list, making habit. 🙂

  2. Cory @ Growing Dollars From Cents.com

    July 10, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    I like the last tip.
    I find myself too often just putting items anywhere in the trolley and then forgetting I already put it there. If I had my trolley organized I would be able to find everything I need and save time!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Hey Cory. It really only take an extra conscious effort to place items together instead of just tossing them in the cart. I’m happy that you found this tip helpful. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Missy VanMeter

    July 10, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    I totally despise grocery shopping, so I do all five of these on every.single.trip lol. Even if I’m only running in for 2-3 items. Great post!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      Hey Missy, I’m glad that you are already using these tips and find them helpful. It’s always nice to know that someone does the same “crazy” organizing things that I do. 🙂

  4. Paula @ I'm Busy Being Awesome

    July 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    These are fantastic tips! I always make a grocery list, and I *try* to keep it organized largely by category. I never thought to keep my cart organized though – this is GENIUS! I love the suggestion that you can just pack all like items in the same back at checkout and then dump the bag where it needs to go. What a great time saver when you get home 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      Yep, no problem Paula. It’s easy to keep the cart organized if you already shop in categories. Just place things together instead of tossing them in randomly. It really doesn’t take any extra time.

  5. Sarah

    July 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Wonderful tips. I always spend way too much time looking at every package!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks Sarah. Yep, that happens to me, especially if it’s something new and interesting.

  6. Brittany Putman

    July 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Great tips! I don’t exactly meal plan, but I keep a list of meals for which I have the ingredients on the fridge and that helps so much.

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:46 pm

      That sounds like a great idea Brittany. I’ll have to try that out.

  7. Erin Nicole

    July 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    I love these tips! I always find when I don’t meal plan or make a list I linger way too long at the grocery store! My kids end up picking out things we definitely don’t need and I still have to go back in a few days because I forgot something. I will totally being using this!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      That’s exactly what happens to me. Add in that I didn’t eat breakfast and I’ve got a cart full of yummy items I was not supposed to buy. Lol. 🙂

  8. Heather

    July 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I thought I was the only one who rewrites the list in the order of the store! 🙂 I definitely need to do a better job keeping my cart organized.

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:44 pm

      Good to know I’m not the only one who does that! I kind of have a system that automatically keeps the cart organized. It’s easy if you just think about it instead of tossing items into the cart. Not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen though. 🙂

  9. Shay

    July 10, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Great list of ideas. I am terrible about not sticking to my list.

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      It can be challenging, especially when those twinkies are calling your name. 🙂

  10. Ayanna @ 21FlavorsofSplendor

    July 10, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Great tips!! For me, meal planning and specific grocery lists are a must. Yet I never thought to organize my cart so that items that go in the same location are bagged together, genius!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      Thanks Anyanna! It’s really no extra work at all. If you shop in categories then it’s easy to place the items together in the cart.

  11. Yolanda

    July 10, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Great tips. Specifically I never thought about putting all like items together, so that when I get home it’s easier and faster to put away. I’m definitely doing this on my next shopping trip 🙂

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:42 pm

      Awesome! I hope it helps you out Yolanda. I live in a small town and we just got our first grocery store in 10 years!! Before now it would take over two hours to do all things grocery. I was desperate to do whatever I could to cut down on time.

  12. Nicole

    July 10, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I REALLY need to start meal planning. Not only would it save me a lot of time in the grocery store, it would also save me a ton of money I usually spend on eating out!

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      It really does help. It seem time consuming up front but the weeks I meal plan are a lot more stress free than the weeks I don’t bother with it.

  13. Jivi

    July 10, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Those are some useful tips right there. I must admit, no one will get me away from my grocery list app – you can add multiple contributors, how cool is that? – but I might have to look into categorising after reading this.

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 11, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      Maybe your app will let you put your list into categories. What app do you use? This sounds like something I may like to use, especially if my husband can add to it as well.

  14. S.R

    July 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Such an incredible information that you have shared. Keep it up

    1. KatiesKottage

      July 8, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Thank S.R. I appreciate the positive feedback. I’m glad you found this helpful.

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