Work Smarter, Not Harder: Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping has become a Sunday staple in my life. I can now shop for a week’s worth of grocery’s in 30 minutes without sweating, crying or calling my mother.

That’s right.

It was not uncommon that I’d break the cardinal rule and call my mother during a Redskins game, frustrated in aisle 7 on the verge of tears wanting to know where do they put the instant mashed potatoes in this Godforsaken establishment?!

Probably near the gravy, Colleen. Like near the stuffing and spices. Do you know where that is?

*Sniff* Yeah, yeah, Mom I think – – go around me, lady! go around! — I know where that is.

It was a dark time.

But I have a system now, and I’m not above sharing it with you. I figure that if grocery shopping used to take me an hour and frustrate the hell out of me (where’s the condensed milk!?), I might as well share how I became The Best Grocery Shopper in the World.

Step 1: Take the time to do some work at home before you go. If you’re above clipping coupons or surfing for sale items, you don’t belong here.

When I know what’s on sale, it helps me streamline my meal planning. There’s no sense in planning a steak dinner if chicken breasts are buy one get one free, AM I RIGHT?!

Step 2 Meal Plan, meal plan, meal plan. I used to go to store and then decide what I wanted to make for dinner. What an idiot. What a poor idiot. If I go in without a plan, I spend double the time walking around and double the money buying things I don’t need.

This also solves the “what’s for dinner?” question

Step 3 Organize your list This has saved me the most time. First, I had to learn the layout of my grocery store when I moved here. Now it’s easy, so I organize my list in a way that mirrors my “route” in the grocery store. There’s no “oops, now I need this – let’s go back five aisles.”

Type A? Maybe. Time Saver? Absolutely.

Step 4 Avoid self check out. This eats up tons of time. If you don’t think bagging a week’s worth of groceries is a true art form, you’re nuts.


**PS – Make sure to enter my Love Grown Granola give away!


  1. says

    This is fabulous!!! I usually avoid the grocery store for weeks (months) at a time – I live on dry cereal, eggs, and chicken…But it’s mostly because I never plan or prepare before going. I will have to try the “colleen method” next time I hit up Kroger :)

  2. says

    Maybe I’m odd…but I love wandering the aisles of the grocery store. I can happily spend an hour or more grocery shopping. I set up my list the same way that you do, though, with “areas”. Because otherwise I end up criss-crossing the store a dozen times, forgetting something each time.

    • Colleen says

      I like your “areas” strategy! But yeah, I can’t stand to walk around the grocery store for an hour. It’s like a game I play with myself – how fast and efficient can I be? :)

  3. says

    That is exactly how I keep my sanity at the grocery store too :)

    Also I got the buy one get one free chicken boobs yesterday too. Make sure you incorporate a leftover day too. I usually make recipes that are 4 servings so that my hubby can take it to work the next day, but sometimes there are more than four servings.. def need a leftover/clean out the fridge day.

  4. says

    Great post! I was just like you having a meltdown while shopping and calling my Mom too haha!

    I still call her for advice sometimes, but have gotten so much better at it. I love your idea of the fridge magnet to plan meals by the day. That is something I haven’t done yet. I definately buy what is on sale, but don’t think about my meals until I get home. Sometimes this means that I need to go back out for extra ingridients. Your way would help me avoid that.

  5. says

    Hahaha – I used to call my mom all the time when I couldn’t find something and my husband would get SO MAD! Him: “Why do you have to call your mom? Just ask somebody” Me: “I am you effing d-bag! I’m asking my mom!” We’re still married, I promise. Now I’m a pro though (nbd) and I pretty much know where errything is. I make a list like yours and break it out into sections. Def Type A…for Type AWESOME

  6. Cindy Harlow says

    A couple of things here: #1, you should have asked me how to grocery shop. I’m a pro! This is exactly how I do my grocery shopping. Same store (most of the time), know the aisles/where the products are. Love it! Takes a lot of the guess work out of the 1/2-1 hour I’m there, then allows me to wander when my ADD kicks in or when I run into the 10 people I haven’t seen in a while and we spend time catching up! There’s also something very satisfying about knowing where something is when someone asks, too, not to mention getting the great deals and bogos! Seriously, this is the only way to by chicken breasts. Am I right?!
    #2, I’m a pro, because I put Megan in charge of the food shopping now as one of her chores. Who’s type A(wesome) now?! Love ya, Coll :)

  7. Crystal Coppel @cuppycakefreak says

    I think I would have a full on panic attack if I couldn’t call my mom for help!! If the grocery store is out of something who do I call to ask what a good replacement item is for it? My mom. And when I am freaking out at the store who is the one person who can calm me down over the phone from 2200 miles away? My mom. Basically she is a life saver. I love how you divide things up into “areas”. I do the same darn thing. If not I would be bouncing all over the store like a pinball in a pinball machine. I also got one of those magnet menus at Target. I <3 Target $1 bins!! And yes planning your meals out is the way to go. This was an awesome post and I cracked up over it!!! You Rock!! :)

  8. says

    Meal planning is my life saver! I don’t know how people who don’t do that know what to shop for?! I also categorize my list like you – genius!

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