Wednesday, April 17, 2024
For men, women, and teens

How to save time grocery shopping

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this page. This helps keep this site running

woman pushing shopping cart at the grocery store

Shopping for groceries needn’t be time-consuming. Here are some great grocery shopping tips that will show you how to save time so it doesn't get in the way of other things in life.

1. Use an ordered shopping list when you go to the supermarket

Aim to have the groceries listed in the approximate order you would come across them in the supermarket. That way, you get your groceries done quickly by only traversing the shop once. There is no need to go back and forth for different items. This saves you a lot more time than you might think.

Here is a fast easy method for setting up an ordered list

First divide a blank piece of paper into five or six subheadings and leave plenty of space under each one, for example:

  1. Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
  2. Canned & Packaged Foods
  3. Cleaning Supplies
  4. Dairy Items
  5. Personal Hygiene & Miscellaneous

The actual headings best for you will depend on your store layout.

Then simply make up your list by putting each item you need under its appropriate subheading.

2. Add to your list as you run low on an item

You'll save even more time if you get in the habit of setting up your list before you even need it. Instead of putting items on your ordered list right before going to the grocery store, keep it handy at home and add items to it as you remember during the week.

Besides saving time getting your list together, you'll also avoid the need for extra catch-up supermarket trips. This is because adding to your list as you run low gives you ample opportunities to remember much-needed items before doing your food shopping trip.

3. Consider online grocery ordering for some or all of your items

Getting groceries online saves you time hunting in the store for the items you need. If you get it delivered to your door, you save even more time by not having to drive there and back. It's understandable if you don't want to buy everything this way, particularly perishables, but if you have a big list then even just getting the non-perishables ordered online can save you a ton of time.

Where to begin with ordering your groceries online

Don't stress if you're trying to figure out which grocery stores deliver to your home.

Your local supermarket that you already shop at will most likely already have an online grocery ordering service on their app or website which can save you a lot of time. They typically give you the choice of fulfilling it either by:

  • drive-up pickup at a designated parking spot at your store that's labeled just for pickup orders


  • home delivery. Home delivery from many supermarkets are actually fulfilled through Instacart but you may not even be aware of this - you simply order on your store's app and they seamlessly have your items delivered to your home

Certain stores might only offer one or the other option.

Remember, the supermarket closest to your home isn't necessarily your best option - you can save even more time by picking up your online order on your way home from work. That way you're not doing a round trip from home to store and back; you're actually building the errand into another existing trip.

If you live in a major metropolitan area, you might like to try the online-only grocery store FreshDirect. I was pleasantly surprised by how affordable their prices are for well known brand-name items.

Consider getting fresh meal kit delivery

You might not even need bother getting many groceries at all if you get started with a fresh meal kit service delivered to your door. There are plenty of options of online places which deliver ingredients for ready-to-cook meals (plus recipe) to your door:

  • Home Chef - an excellent all-around choice
  • EveryPlate - best value for money; a strong focus on affordability and on tasty filling meals
  • Blue Apron - highly flexible; makes it easy for you to skip, pause or cancel anytime
  • HelloFresh - plenty of different food options to suit everyone's tastes
  • Gobble - focused on fast, easy and healthy cooking, ideal for those who simply don't have much time to cook after work
  • Green Chef - a USDA certified organic company which sources ingredients directly from farmers

4. Only bother with coupons that correspond to items on your list

Do not to take your entire collection of coupons to the supermarket; you’ll only be slowed down by having to hunt for the right ones before checkout.

Instead, before going to the grocery store, quickly look to see if any of the items on your shopping list correspond to a coupon you have. If so, you can save time and money on your shopping trip by grabbing the relevant coupons as you head out.

5. Go to the supermarket when it’s less busy

You’ll save time shopping and at checkout if you go when the store is less busy. The least busy time you can go will depend on your work schedule and on the supermarket hours. That time will be different for everyone.

For those who work a normal daytime shift Monday to Friday, the best time of day is usually in the weekday evenings, the later the better.

Weekend days are frequently busiest of all and while they might sound convenient, who really wants to spend precious weekend moments doing grocery shopping? It’s also helpful to avoid store promotional days that are busy for other reasons (e.g. senior citizen discount days, unless of course you are in that category and would therefore benefit from it!)

If in doubt, ask the cashier at checkout which days or times they consider particularly busy or less busy at that particular supermarket; they’ll be happy to let you know.

6. Keep on the move

Try to keep your cart moving. Your total grocery shopping time will be much faster if you are on the go the whole time. Also, you then won’t be tempted to waste time (and money!) on things you don’t really need. If you find yourself stopping for no real reason, get moving again; you’ll be surprised at how much time you save with this tip!

In fact, I regularly shop faster at the grocery store when I have my kids with me than without. The secret? The kids like for me to keep the cart moving and they get upset if I stop.


There are plenty of ways to get your food shopping done quickly. Try them out; you’ll have more time for other things in life. Enjoy!

We have more time-saving tips for you in this article about faster bathroom cleaning. And if you lack the time to keep up with your favorite podcasts, don't worry - we also cover the best times to listen to podcasts while still getting other things done.

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