Grocery shopping is super time consuming—or it can be if you don't have a plan. We Test Kitchen folk spend a lot of time shopping for groceries, not because we aren't good at it, but because we test a lot of recipes. Over the years, I've gotten pretty good at getting in and out of the grocery store efficiently, and here are my top tips and tricks:
1. Make a habit of going to the same store for all your groceries; eventually you will learn where everything is.
2. Don't make grocery lists by type, i.e. international, canned goods, fish, frozen, etc. Grocery stores don't really organize their stores like this.
3. Instead, make your list based on the aisle or area. For example, my store has the deli counter and specialty cheese right in the produce section. On my grocery store app (more on that later) I have Gruyere cheese, rotisserie chicken, and lemons all under the "produce" area.
4. You don't have to bag all of your produce. GASP! Lots of people have handled your produce before you decided to put it in your cart. Your hands and the cashier's hands are just the end of the line.
5. Avoid the big, oversized carts if you can. Smaller carts keep you nimble and quick on your feet. They also keep you from overbuying, and you don't have to put your food in carts used as miniature jails or personal go-carts for kids.
6. Find a grocery shopping app that you like. Lots are available, and several will remember your normal list and auto-fill for you. I've been using Buy Me a Pie for years and love it.
7. Skip the store during busy hours. This is not always possible, of course, but immediate time savings are gained, starting from the parking lot through not having to hunt for the "short line."
8. Don't push your cart everywhere you go. Leave it at the end of the aisle before searching the aisle for what you need.
9. Pile your fresh ingredients on the top or on one end of your cart, and place your raw meat on the bottom or other side. Food safety starts at the grocery store.
10. If you need something special from the meat or seafood counter, go there first. While they prepare your order, continue shopping for the rest of your list.
Anything we left off? What's your favorite way to save time when you shop?