The longer you stay in the grocery store the better chance you have of increasing your receipt total with impulse purchases.

My partner is amazed when I run to the store to pick up the groceries, how quickly I come back after leaving. For her it is an easy 60-90 minute shopping trip. I thought I would pass along a few ways I get in and out so quickly for those who are wanting to cutting down on their trip.

Plan Ahead. When you have your list of items to buy and you have any coupons ready to use then you don't have to worry about missing any items or having to make another trip. I also eat something before going if I'm already a bit hungry, so I'm not tempted by chips and soda pop.

Map It Out. I usually shop at the same 2-3 stores and I have a pretty good idea where 90% of the items are. With that in my mind I am ready to plan my route without doing any backtracking through the crush of people or going down aisles that I know are not on my list.

flickr/cc - qmnonic
Use the Proper Size Grocery Container. If I have a large list, then I grab a cart, if the items to pick up are less than 5, I use no cart or carrying container. The less room I have, the less likely I am to want to carry it around or want to go back for a bigger grocery container.

Outside to Inside. I prefer to get my produce first and then work my way around the outside "ring" of the store, then going into the middle area. If I have quite a few heavy items to pick up I leave room in the cart so I don't crush the produce.

Price and Size. I'm not brand loyal on most food items, that allows my eyes to taken in the price and the size to determine the best value for what I need on the list. If I have a coupon I take that into consideration at this point and if generic is cheaper, I will leave the coupon behind on the shelf for someone else.

Constantly Moving. I don't stop to enjoy a pretty holiday display or look over the flowers wishing I had a bouquet. Unless I'm stopping to decide on an item from my list, I keep walking toward the nearest item on my list. Milk to Eggs to frozen foods and on.

Asking for Help. If I can't find what I need from the aisle chart, I wait until I've come across an employee and then ask them to point the way. It does seem to save time if I'm still shopping and not finished when I ask.

Record Keeping. If you are like me and you have a monthly food budget, this is where you will see me adding up (rounding up) the cost of items to stay within budget. IF, and only if I have enough money left over, then I will get the junk food at the bottom of the list.

Recheck Your List and Cart. While I'm standing in line I go over my list to make sure I haven't forgotten anything and I go over my cart to make sure the items I have are ones I definitely need and not impulse items. This is also a good way to keep my eyes off the checkout candy so I don't add to my cart.

Rain-checks. If an item I wanted that was a good deal and they were out, it is as I walk towards the door that I will stop at the customer service desk to get my rain-check. Doing it right when I find it is sold out just adds time to my shopping trip - I just star the item on the list so I remember.

For more help with your shopping, please read through The Psychology Behind Store Layouts that I wrote up a couple of years ago.


  1. Jill // Friday, January 14, 2011 9:18:00 AM  

    Nice post.
    I started the "smallest container" thing years ago and generally shop with a list but hadn't thought of the "keep moving" bit. My grocery trip is often my one trip out of town every week.

    I DO start in the bulk aisle (I shop at a food co-op which can be more expensive and is an even bigger reason to avoid impulse purchases) and the produce aisle. I avoid the chips/drinks/candy/snacks aisle if at all possible and I avoid walking past the deli counter because there are some very delicious looking things and the smell is wonderful.

  2. Say Mmm // Friday, January 14, 2011 3:11:00 PM  

    Nice list of tips, and I really like the point on leaving a coupon behind if you can't use it. You can do this if the generic is cheaper, or if you decide not to get something. Its a great way to make someone else's day with a little surprise gift from a stranger.

  3. Dawn // Friday, January 14, 2011 4:52:00 PM  

    I'm glad the snacks and sodas are over in one area, all together so I can stay away from them.

    @Say Mmm
    I can't say I ever found one of use for myself. But I have seen a couple people pick up ones I left behind as I moved down the aisle.

  4. Brad Fallon // Friday, January 14, 2011 7:14:00 PM  

    I believe that when you go shopping you should have a ready list of what you wanted to buy to save time and if it is possible, choose a shopping area where you are already familiar where you can get the items.

  5. Soosie // Friday, January 14, 2011 10:04:00 PM  

    We get our meat, dairy and bread delivered for a $3.75/week delivery fee from a local farm. We also make our own bread. This pretty much keeps me out of the grocery store completely. I can go several weeks without stepping into the land of impulse buying. We have saved so much money with me not going to the grocery store at all. It more than makes up for the $3.75/week we pay for delivery. I do go to the organic fruit and veggie store or farmer's market for fruits/veggies -- but because that is all I'm going for I get in and out without going down the other aisles. We didn't set out to save money by doing the local farm delivery thing, but it has been a very pleasant unexpected result. Support local farms!

    And we almost never use coupons. I don't think they are really money saving. They are usually for things I never buy, like brand name non-eco-friendly cleaning supplies and other heinous things I would not feed to my kids!

  6. maryperk // Saturday, January 15, 2011 6:48:00 AM  

    Don't take along little helpers is #1 on my list.

  7. Dawn // Saturday, January 15, 2011 1:04:00 PM  

    Excellent additions
    - shop without kids (if possible) and buy from local farmers and make bread!

  8. Money Saving Enthusiast // Friday, March 04, 2011 6:23:00 PM  

    Great post. It definitely helps to be strategic!I like how you leave the coupon there for someone. i use cash when I grocery shop. I like it because I just put back something if I hit my limit. It's wasy to prioritize at the check out/ Just put the most important first and then put a few items on the metal part next to the converyor belt. Once you see the total, you can just tell the cashier you don't want them.