10 Tips to Organize Your Grocery Store Trip

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The golden rule when food shopping is to never shop on an empty stomach or you’ll end up buying items you really don’t need. It’s also helpful to keep an inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry, and cross items off as they get used up. Before you run out, take another quick look to assess what you really need.

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1. Plan out your meals before you go shopping. Go through your inventory list or cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what you already have and need to use up. Look through store circulars to see what’s on sale as inspiration.

2. Create a shopping list, either written, printed or using an app. Make your list around the dishes you plan to cook. Don’t forget to note how much you need of the item when necessary. Note the sale prices to compare with what’s rung up at the register.

3. Ask others in your household if they need to add anything to the list.

4. Get to know your store layout (many stores have “maps” of their aisles at their customer service desk). Organize your shopping list according to sections and how you walk through the store. If you want to get super-efficient, list the items down to the order you’ll hit them in each aisle. Many supermarkets have a website feature that will create an itemized list according to the aisles based on the groceries you input.

5. Bring your own shopping bags. Many stores will give you a small credit for each one of your bags used. If it’s scorching out or if you’re hitting more than one store, bring a cooler or cooler bag with ice packs to hold frozen or refrigerated items, or hit the store where you’ll be buying those items last.

6. Find out when the store is least crowded. It can take twice as long to shop when it’s mobbed. Ask when produce and meat are stocked so you can get first pick.

7. Keep your coupons organized and pull out any that you’ll be using ahead of time.

8. Shop for dry goods first, then for the more-perishable items and the frozen foods last. Don’t meander — skip any aisles you don’t need to go down.

9. Keep dry goods together and refrigerated items together in the cart and on the conveyer belt. It will make unpacking quicker and easier. Place heavier and sturdier items first on the belt so they get packed at the bottom of the bags.

10. As noted above, compare the sale prices with your receipt. Some stores will credit the whole amount for items rung up incorrectly.

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