10 Tips For a Successful Grocery Store Trip


Grocery shopping isn’t my favorite thing.  It’s expensive and time consuming.  But it has to be done and here are 10 ways to make it easier, or at least more successful.

1.       Don’t shop hungry.  I can’t believe how much more I buy, or at least want to buy, when I shop hungry.  I wouldn’t have believed this tip was really true if I hadn’t experienced it personally.

2.       Shop alone whenever you can.  Kids and spouses tend to make your grocery trip take longer and cost more.  Unless, of course, you’re shopping with your spouse and they happen to be the grocery store police.  When my husband goes with me, I don’t spend as much.  If I pick something up that I really shouldn’t buy, he says:  “Do we really need that?”  And I begrudgingly put it back. So if your spouse or children help you spend less, then by all means, take them along.  However, that’s not normally the case. Most of the time, shopping alone is best.

3.       Shop with a listLately I’ve been going back and forth between feeling too busy to plan or just not wanting to.  So I’ve been shopping with a partially made list.  That is never good for me!  When I shop with a partial list, I come home with a bunch of stuff I don’t need and a bigger bill than I expected or wanted.

4.       If you’re trying to spend only a certain amount, make a detailed list AND add it up before you go!  I don’t want to shop with a calculator or add as I go, so I make an extremely detailed and thorough list and write down the expected amounts next to each item.  I round up the amounts (instead of $2.50 I’ll write $3) and am generous with my estimates.  The “extra” covers the sales tax.

5.       Have a plan for stuff you forgot to put on the list.  Have you ever gotten to the store and seen a product and realized you need that but it isn’t on your list?  That happens pretty often to me.  Here are a couple of ways to handle that situation.

  • You can skip the item and hope for the best.
  • You can skip something else you may not have to have and get the forgotten item instead.
  • You can build a little extra into the list for forgotten items.   When my husband shopped with me, he liked buying new things to try.  So rather than mess up the budget when he wanted to purchase some weird fruit or vegetable or other product, I allowed $10 for “surprises”.  It worked great!

6.       Timing – which day to shop.  I’ve moved my grocery store day to Tuesday for now.  It’s not my preference but it works best for my schedule.  Moving it from Wednesday eliminated a lot of stress from my life.  So regardless of which day is best for sales or other discounts, choose the day that works best for YOUR schedule.

7.       Timing – what time of day to shop.  I’ve tried every time of day –  morning, afternoon, evening.  If I go when it’s busy, there are more checkers and sackers but also more people to work around.  If I go when it’s not busy, there aren’t as many checkers or sackers but there also aren’t as many people to deal with.  So I guess you have to pick which factor bugs you the most and choose a time based on that.  For me, I prefer morning when it’s not as crowded.

8.       If your grocery store doesn’t carry a product you want, you can sometimes ask them to get it for you.  I’m not sure if that would work for Aldi or Wal-mart, but for major grocery stores like HyVee or Price Chopper, I’ve had success asking them to get a product for me.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but they eventually get it if they can.

9.       Don’t linger.  The longer you stay in the store, the more you’ll spend.  So get in, get your stuff and get out!  Your budget and your schedule will thank you.

10.     Shop on the same day each week.  If you shop on the same day each week, your grocery trip is already built into your schedule so you don’t have to try to figure out when to go.  It also helps with planning.  When I make my list, I plan for one week.  It’s easier to plan when I know I need to buy enough for one week.

What are your tips for making grocery shopping more successful?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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16 thoughts on “10 Tips For a Successful Grocery Store Trip

  1. Our local Stop and Shop has scanners that you check out with your card which allow me to scan my items before putting them into my cart. This is great for two reasons: I can bag the items myself and organize them the way I want to (I use reusable bags, so that helps), and when I’m done I scan a final barcode at the self-checkout register to give it back and total up my bill. I use the deli kiosk, so I submit what I want and pick it up when it’s ready. So if all goes well, I don’t have to talk to anyone and the process goes pretty quickly. I get in, get the stuff off of my list, and get out. Like you said, very easy on the budget. 🙂

        1. It is rather awesome! They’ll also do home delivery, which I know people love. But I don’t mind going to the grocery store. It’s the crowds I don’t like.

  2. My tip would be to work out the unit cost per item- in Australia the supermarkets have to do this by law, so it’s easy to compare different quantities and brands. I just discovered your site BTW: so many good tips!

  3. I take ONLY the exact amount of cash I intend to spend that way when I get close to my set amount, I know I have to make decisions about whether I can justify those impulse purchases. I do have to use a calculator though and I also use your rounding technique to allow for sales tax. I make it a bit of a game with myself and feel like I won if I can spend $10 less than my total amount–usually I’m only a couple of dollars under the amount.

    1. Well, if you take the exact amount, you definitely can’t overspend. I should try that. I think I would benefit from making a game out of it, too.

    1. Grocery shopping is definitely challenging. I wasn’t as good at it when I started, but after 31 years of shopping every week, I’ve gotten pretty efficient most of the time. Sometimes I still struggle, too.

  4. These are great tips. I actually follow most of them and I can tell a difference in my budget when I don’t. We are on a tight grocery budget and if my husband or children go with me I can almost be guaranteed that I will spend more.

    1. Yes, the husband and children definitely affect the total bill at the end. They can’t help it – all those food items are just so tempting!

  5. We have a 24-hour grocery store, and my preferred time to use that one is to get there before sunrise. It’s surprising how many shoppers are out that early, but they are usually just getting deli food or small essentials.

    1. That would require that you be a morning person – which I’m definitely not. 🙂 I’ve heard that’s a good time to shop but I’ll probably never step foot in a grocery store before sunrise – or anywhere else! I’d be more apt to go at midnight. But that is definitely a great strategy for you early birds.

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