How to Spend Less Time Shopping for Groceries

I’ve always enjoyed grocery shopping. It’s not an activity that I want to rush through; however, I have a daughter who accompanies me to the store and a busy schedule, so I can rarely grocery shop at a leisurely pace.

If you need to get into the store, shop, and get out quickly, then you may benefit from these strategies that can help you speedily shop for groceries.

How to Spend Less Time Shopping for Groceries | Do you have a limited amount of time to spend at the grocery store? Try these strategies that can help you speedily shop for groceries.

Prepare a grocery list and shop by the list

If you have a grocery list, then you don’t have to spend time trying to decide what to get as you browse aisle after aisle of food. Of course, simply having a list doesn’t prevent you from taking a lot of time to peruse the shelves—you have to stick to the list! If your list is complete, then it will also prevent you from having to make impromptu visits to the store for forgotten items.

Organize your grocery list by aisle

Familiarize yourself with the layout of your preferred grocery store and determine the route you like to take as you shop. Use this information to order the items on your list so that they are listed in the same order as you’ll encounter them while walking through the store.

Plan meals well in advance so you can go to the store less often

If you plan out several weeks’ worth of meals, then you can avoid a weekly trip to the grocery store. Meal planning will also help you formulate the grocery list mentioned above. By watching the expiration dates on dairy products and storing fruits and veggies carefully, you can easily cut back your grocery shopping to one trip every two weeks.

Take advantage of grocery store alternatives

Are there grocery co-ops or CSA programs available in your area? Is there a grocery delivery service that works with your preferred grocery store? Have you tried purchasing items from an online retailer such as Amazon? See if these grocery store alternatives can decrease how much time you spend in brick-and-mortar retailers.

Buy in bulk

If you know you use a lot of an item, why not purchase it in a large quantity so you don’t have to pick it up every time you go to the store? This may also save you money because bulk quantities are often less costly than small quantities.

Shop during off-peak times

If you shop during peak times (weekends, 5:00-7:00 p.m. on weekdays, the days before major holidays, etc.), then you may encounter congestion in the aisles and have to wait in line for a long time when you go through the checkout. Shopping during off-peak hours will reduce your chance of encountering these delays.

When going through the checkout, place items on the conveyer belt with their barcodes facing the barcode scanner

Watch the cashier to determine where the barcode scanner is located. Once you have this knowledge, you can place your items on the conveyer belt so they are poised for scanning—the cashier will not have to spend time fumbling your items in order to find their barcodes and position them for scanning.

Keep your coupons organized and easily accessible

Your movement through the store will be slowed if you have to stop and shuffle coupons to see if you have one for a particular product. Additional delays will occur if you can’t find your coupons when you go through the checkout, if you have expired coupons, or if you accidentally grabbed an item for which a coupon isn’t applicable. Find an organization system that works for you so you can avoid these holdups.

Consider shopping without your kids

If your kids tend to slow you down while you shop, then see if you can shop at a time when your spouse can watch them or when they are in school.

I’ve noticed that I tend to spend more money when I’m in the store for a long time, so perhaps it’s a good thing I use these strategies!

What things help you grocery shop quickly?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Thrifty Thursday, Think Tank Thursday, Coffee and Conversation, Titus 2sday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Monday’s Musings and The Art of Home-Making.


  1. I had to chuckle at the organize your list by aisle. This is EXACTLY what I do. I shop from the back of the store to the front. During my last pregnancy I had to send my husband to the grocery store and I gave him my nicely organized, typed out list that had the groceries more or less mapped out by the path I take in the grocery store. It took him FOREVER to shop for groceries because he shops front to back/right to left, whereas I start in the back left corner of the store.

    Great tips!

  2. Organizing my list by aisle is a big time saver for me. When I don’t, I find myself back tracking through the store at least once. So frustrating.

    (visiting from the Art of Homemaking link-up)

  3. I grocery shop without my kids every chance I get!! And yes, organizing not only by aisle but by route is key! I sent my husband to the store once and drew him a map of the store along with my list that was categorized by aisles. I had arrows drawn to show him the route to take! Definitely was a bit overkill. He got confused. LOL! Thanks for sharing these great tips!

    • Shannon says:

      That’s funny!
      I’m sure my husband would be confused, too. The route I take makes perfect sense to me, but probably wouldn’t make sense to my husband.

  4. Organizing your grocery list is key! Once I started doing that, it made trips easier. I was less likely to forget an item. Especially if I end up frantically trying to finish by the end of my grocery trip with 2 little ones.

    I don’t organize by aisle. I just group them by diary, fruit & veggies, dry goods, toiletries, etc.

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Emily,
      As you note, it’s not just about shopping quickly but about making it easier. I think organizing by type of item (dry goods, produce, etc.) is probably as effective as organizing by aisle.

  5. Fabulous tips! We shop by aisle as well, and you’re right it saves so much time. I have a running list of things we need hung up in my kitchen and as we run out I just check it off on our list and then cross it out once we get in the store. It works for us, and I’m glad I’m not the only one that does it. Thanks for sharing such smart tips, Shannon! I’m sure everyone who reads this will find it useful.

    • Shannon says:

      You highlight the fact that we have to have an approach to making a grocery list in order to have one with which to shop. Thanks for sharing how you create yours!

  6. Great tips. I love to go during off peak hours, saves me loads of time.

    • Shannon says:

      That’s when I go, too. It’s nice not having to wait in line for very long (if at all).

  7. This is a great infographic! I would also add: consider shopping without your husband… lol

    • Shannon says:

      Yes! I love having my husband with me when I shop because we get to visit, but he does slow me down. 🙂

  8. I save time by taking my kids with me – and letting them do some of the shop. They’ve been doing the shopping (or an isle or two) by themselves since they were 10 years old. I understand this is probably not doable in some cities, but in our country town it cuts my shopping time down to 1/3. I write my shopping list in isles as many have said, then give an isle or two to each of the kids who are with me. When they start out doing this, I give them isles that have the food they are familiar with – usually diary / freezer but it doesn’t take long before they can do more. They are under instruction not to pick up anything other than on the list, though by the time they are 15 or so they have the freedom to shop if they see specials for items we use.

    • Shannon says:

      This is wonderful, Belinda! In addition to saving time, you’re teaching them skills they will need as they become adults.

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