Thursday, December 13, 2012

Six Crucial Rules for Grocery Shopping

For me, it's a weekly chore. Maybe for you it's more often than that. If so, God bless you. I'm talking about grocery shopping. Or, as I like to call it, "food shopping." Since I do the cooking in our house, I also do the food shopping. And I do it solo. Over the years, I have perfected my system. And I am here to make your supermarket experience easier. Coincidentally, in doing so, I make my shopping experience more pleasant. Isn't it nice how that works?

The holidays just add more complications and obstacles to this necessary but annoying endeavor. Rookies and neophytes who don't know where anything is, looking for obscure ingredients for random recipes, clogging your aisles with unexpected mayhem. But it doesn't have to be this way. So as we all descend on the grocery stores in the weeks leading up to Christmas, there are certain rules to follow to ensure everyone stays sane. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

1. Leave Your Kids at Home. I understand that sometimes this is unavoidable, but the grocery store really is no place for children. It’s stocked with foods that are no good for them. Besides, they’re just going to slow you down, cost you more money by forcing you to buy those unhealthy snacks to appease them, and annoy you and your fellow shoppers. I adore my daughter and I love spending time with her… anywhere but the grocery store.

2. Don't squeeze the Charmin. Meaning, don’t lollygag. Know your stuff. Make your list, check it twice. Know where things are located. This is not the time of year to be trying new stores you’re unfamiliar with or looking for new ingredients you never use. You’re going to get in somebody’s (my) way and get run over by a distracted parent pushing a cart full of Ring Dings. (God rest their soul.)

3. Follow Parking Protocol: I’m not just talking about road rage in the parking lot. Of course you should yield to pedestrians and be courteous to other drivers. You should also return your cart to the designated drop-off areas. But I’m going to let you in on my little secret here: while IN the store, park your cart at the FRONT of the aisle. That way, you can go down one aisle, up the next, and put your handful of groceries in your cart without blocking the aisle for other shoppers. You will, however, block that display of cereal that’s on sale. That’s just a sacrifice I’m willing to make, especially in stores with narrow aisles. I understand this may pose a problem for those of you who carry purses and like to leave them in the cart.

4. Mind the Line: Once you’re ready to check out, your work is not over. In fact, this is the most crucial part of your shopping trip. Checking out is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. So please, put down that issue of Us Weekly. The latest escapades of Katie and Suri can wait. You still have work to do. For example, be courteous of the person behind you. (Me.) If possible, make sure there’s enough room on the conveyer belt for me to start unloading my groceries. You should be standing in front of your cart to allow me to move my cart up as far as possible, stand in front it myself, and unload it. Bonus points if you put the little separator stick thingy on there for me. (Check-out is also a big reason why my #1 reason above is so necessary.)

5. Don't pay by check. Ever. Unless you’re like 80 years old. If that’s the case, then people shouldn’t be getting behind you in line. They deserve to wait while you write a check.

6. Bag Your Own: I saved the most important for last. Unless you have a physical ailment that prevents you from being able to perform this very simple task, bag your own groceries. Are you really going to watch the cashier do it for you? While someone waits in line behind you? Sure, you could argue it’s part of their job. But what about your job? Your job, remember, is to get in and out of there as quickly as possible, and to help me do the same. That’s not happening if the cashier has to take the time to bag the groceries that you are capable of bagging yourself. Please. Make their day. And mine. The cashier will always thank you for bagging. And they mean it.

I might sound like a crazy person, but I assure you I am in and out of the supermarket in 45 minutes or less every time. No kids. No fuss. No carts in the aisle.

Now you have no excuse. See you in the store. But no socializing.

This post first appeared last month on Barista Kids. One rare occasion that I did take Peanut shopping with me, THIS HAPPENED.


  1. Grocery shopping, without kids? Sigh, if only. My wife works full time, one child is in school, and the other two are busy demolishing the house. I do the majority of the grocery shopping, and I know the store almost as well as anyone that works there. Due to school and work schedules, the shopping usually gets done before my wife gets home. The employees at the local grocery know my kids pretty well, and if I happen to escape by myself, the lack of offspring is noticed.

    And on rare the days I manage to do the shopping by myself, you better believe I take my sweet time doing it.

  2. I've actually been ask by store managers to stop bagging and allow the cashier or bag boy to bag the groceries up. They make a poit about it being store policy.

    1. I wouldn't shop there. That's annoying.

    2. Beware of the Olive know, just when you think olives on the olive bar look good, someone comes along and grabs on with their bare hands....gross. Please stop.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I also have shopping down to a science... coupons and all. I also know the off prime times to go and when I'm likely to not be hit on by every single guy in town. (ALWAYS avoid Friday night shopping)

    Occasionally, Tony and I will go together WITH kids. We literally rip the list in half, he takes one son and I the other, and we literally have a race. Last one done buys.

    I have yet to pay for groceries. :)


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