How To Shop Quickly For Groceries And Save Money

Have you ever timed how long it takes for you to grocery shop? Today it took me 71 minutes. Yikes! I learned some valuable lessons from my trip to Smith’s today. First, I realized I’m a slow, methodical shopper. When I include coupons, it takes me longer. And, I do buy things on impulse once in awhile, even when I use a list. I’m human.

Before I go on with my story, here are some shopping facts I thought you would find interesting:

  • The average time spent grocery shopping is 41 minutes. (Time Use Institute)
  • Saturday is the busiest shopping day of the week. The next busiest days are Friday and Sunday. The least busiest are Monday and Tuesdays. (Time Use Institute)
  • Men do more shopping than women on the weekend. (Time Use Institute)
  • On weekdays, the busiest time to shop is late afternoon – 4 to 5 p.m. On weekends peak time is 11 a.m. (Time Use Institute)
  • Between 2003 and 2007 consumers have reduced the frequency of trips, but spend more time shopping. (Time Use Institute)
  • “Studies show that for each additional minute you spend in a grocery store past half an hour, you will likely spend between 50 cents and $1.” So what this means is in one hour you could spend an additional $15 – $30 more!
  • In 2010, shoppers spent an average of $99.90 weekly on groceries. (

Today my plan was to stick to my shopping list and shop quickly. When I walked into the store I set the timer on my cell phone. However, a bag of my favorite pita chips caught my eye. And I noticed some hummus on clearance close by. I knew I had a coupon for the hummus, so it only cost me 29 cents, but those pita chips were not a great price. Neither one was on my list, but the hummus was calling to me and I was hungry.

It is easy to rationalize using a coupon, but did I really need the chips? By the way, I recently stopped using a coupon binder and switched to this cute coupon organizer from “Grandma’sLittleLilly.”

Fabric Coupon Organizer /Budget Organizer Holder - Attaches to Your Shopping Cart - Song Birds
Grandma’sLittleLilly Coupon Organizer

It fits in my purse and can be conveniently hung on the grocery cart. I put more dividers in it, and now I only clip coupons for items we do use.

Next, I noticed some large bins at the front of the store filled with sale items. I spotted the food bars that were on my list, and reasoned that if I grabbed them now it would save me time. But I wasted time glancing in the other bins at the other items. Later, I visited the breakfast aisle in the store where those same bars were located. So I didn’t really save any time.

My plan was to walk the perimeter of the store first, and then hit only the needed aisles. As I entered the produce section I refocused my efforts, stuck to my list and was finished in 5 minutes.

Then I came to the deli and bakery section. “Don’t look,” I told myself. “Don’t sniff.” However, the muffins caught my eye. I grabbed the package reasoning that my kids would thank me. I moved onto the meat, and then the juice sections and stuck to my list. Then I began working my way down the necessary aisles.

The toiletry section was easy because most items are expensive, so I followed my list. I usually save more money on these types of items at drug stores like Walgreen’s or Dollar Tree.

Then I meandered to the canned food section and spotted a deal on a brand of canned chicken, which I happened to have a coupon for. “Don’t look!” I was weak. It’s food storage, right? But did I need it then? I found the coupons in my organizer and grabbed the cans.

The condiments, bread, breakfast foods, and baking sections were easy. As I entered the freezer section I suddenly realized that my mini cart was too small for more items. So I had to walk to the front of the store to get another cart. Another waste of time. Obviously I can’t fit a week’s supply of food in those little carts.

With the freezer items loaded up, I headed to the checkout pushing one cart and dragging the other behind me. 🙂 I carefully loaded my items on the conveyor belt, typed in my phone number on the keypad, and clutched my coupons in anticipation. I reminded the checker that I had two sets of “Buy 10” items. She informed me I was two items short which surprised me. She pulled out the receipt and we both looked it over. I tried not to look at the annoyed lady in line behind me. Sure enough I was confused on an item, so I hustled across the store and grabbed a few more granola bars. Thankfully all of my coupons were accepted.

I saved $24.00 with my coupons, and spent $22.00 on impulse shopping. I have to laugh at this, but it was a real eye opener. I suppose you could say I got them for free, but I really think that what I saved I also spent. The moral of this story is to stick to the list. Don’t rationalize purchases. And get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. I don’t mind spending time in a store as long as it’s put to good use. Here are some tips:

How to Shop Quickly to Save Money

  • Sign up for a store loyalty card to get sale prices.
  • Do your planning at home with a Menu Plan.
  • Shop with a categorized shopping list of your favorite store and stick to it. List in order the sections/aisles in the order you will shop.
  • Paper clip your coupons to your list.
  • Shop on Monday’s or Tuesdays if possible.
  • Shop early in the day or later in the evening.
  • Shop on a full stomach.
  • Shop in the produce section first, then the perimeter, and then the necessary aisles.
  • Open several produce plastic bags in advance, then fill them with items on your list.
  • Use a pencil to check off your list. Also number the items that are part of a Buy 10-type sale.
  • If possible, get in line behind a man without children. Men typically have fewer items in their carts.
  • At the checkout, unload heavy items first and group other items such as freezer foods, produce, etc. Add the bread items last.
  • Have coupons ready to hand to the cashier.
  • Good luck saving money!
If you have any tips on shopping quickly and efficiently, please comment. Also, if you time your next trip to the store, tell us how long it was and some details about it.
January: Wk. 5

Inventory: Breakfast Items
Emergency Fund: Put aside the amount you decided on
Water Supply: Continue to gather or fill water if needed
Food Storage: 3×64 oz. Bottled Juice 
Non-Food: 1 bar/bottle of soap per month
72-Hour Kit: Free week or get a needed item from another week
Auto Kit: Jumper cables
(I’ll be adding these reminders to the bottom of every post to help you stay on track)

CURRENT GIVEAWAY: Also, if you have not entered the Emergency Essentials Katadyn MyBottle Microfilter giveaway click here for details.

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