If you’re anything like me, the thought of grocery shopping makes you think about the pleasures of a root canal. I hate grocery shopping. I hate the crowds; trying to find that last ingredient that was here last week, but has magically disappeared when you need it most; the lines to check out. The list goes on. Last week I talked about where we shop. This week I want to talk about how we shop.
Over the years, I’ve developed a system to help me get in and out of the grocery store as quickly as possible. When you prepare 95% of all the food you eat, shaving 15-20 minutes off a grocery trip can be a lifesaver.
Did you know that every store has the same basic layout? Your fresh food—produce, seafood, meat, dairy, baked goods—are all located along the perimeter of the store. The middle aisles contain all the canned, boxed, and bottled items—the “processed” food. Before I understood this, I would make one gigantic list and end up popping back and forth from dairy to produce to the bakery and back again—it took forever! Now, I organize my list by department and only occasionally forget something that requires me to sprint across the store and back. It’s such a time saver. It also helps Andy when he does the shopping for me–even though he might have to spend more time searching for things on the list, at least he’ll be in the right section.
You’ll notice I divide my weekly meal plan/grocery lists into the following categories:
Bulk (not technically “fresh”, but it’s on the perimeter right after produce)
Meat & Cheese
This takes me clockwise around the perimeter of the store, ending with the checkout lines. Getting out of the parking lot unharmed is another story.
All told my entire weekly grocery experience typically lasts 1 1/2 to 2 hours total, but if you take into account that I make 6-7 stops that really isn’t too bad. I spend around 45 minutes at my primary grocery store, and all other stops (including the bank and gas) usually average 10-15 minutes each.
Do you have any grocery shopping tips? I’d love to hear them. I wouldn’t mind shaving another 3-4 minutes off my weekly visit!