15 Smart (Time-Saving) Tips to Be a More Efficient Grocery Shopper

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How to save time grocery shopping when you're busy! These smart shopping tips will show you how to grocery shop efficiently (and on a budget!)

Is grocery shopping one your most dreaded tasks?

Maybe you loathe having to spend your never-long-enough precious weekend time doing it. Or you stop at the store after work when you’re hungry and tired. And just so over it.

When believe it or not, there are actually some ways to grocery shop more efficiently.

If you want to know how to save time grocery shopping, check out these smart grocery shopping strategies!

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How to Save Time Grocery Shopping

1. Use a Master Grocery List

What is a master grocery list, you ask? Excellent question. It’s a really convenient, reusable grocery list of all the items you regularly buy.

You reference it every time you make your shopping list, to make sure you don’t forget anything.

It’s also a huge time-saver! Just grab your master grocery list and check your fridge, pantry, and freezer to see what you need to buy.

Related post: How to Use a Master Grocery Like (to save your time and sanity!)

2. Try Eat at Home Meals

If you’re looking for a more done-for-you solution (and wish someone else planned your meals), check out Eat at Home Meals!

They provide monthly menus AND the coordinating shopping lists.

You can choose meals from 4 different styles – Traditional, Wholesome, Slow Cooker/Instant Pot, and No Flour/No Sugar.

How does it work?

  • Choose your membership level (monthly, quarterly, or yearly)
  • Log into your member area (as often as you want) and choose which meal plan and recipes you’d like to make that week or month
  • Shop for (or order) your groceries at any store using the provided shopping lists
  • Follow the simple recipes (print, or look at them on your phone or tablet)
  • Enjoy your stress-free dinner!

Yep, it’s really that easy! You can find all the details about Eat at Home HERE.

UPDATE: Because I really wanted you to be able to try it (and I have to use a coupon on EVERYTHING), I contacted Tiffany at Eat at Home to ask for a discount for you guys. Use code REBECCA25 to get 25% off!

Related post: Meal Planning for People Who Hate Meal Planning

the easiest way to meal plan

3. Use SHIPT

SHIPT is a grocery delivery service. You make your grocery list in the app, and a SHIPT employee will do all your grocery shopping and deliver it right to your house. In as little as 1 hour!

There is a membership cost (see below for a discount), but after that, orders over $35 are delivered free. You can choose a monthly or yearly membership.

Want to try it? Click here to try SHIPT for HALF PRICE!

Grocery prices will be slightly higher than if you shopped in the store yourself, but many people are happy to pay for the convenience.

On average, SHIPT members save 8 hours a month by using the service.

Need more info? You can get a 2 week Free Trial HERE!

(I know of a woman who has the groceries delivered before she gets home from work, and has the older kids put them away for her. Talk about effortless!)


4. Pick a less busy time to shop

If you’re used to going grocery shopping on the weekend, you know how crowded the aisles, parking lot, and checkout lanes can be.

Start shopping during non-peak hours, and you will save so much time!

I have found that our local grocery stores are the least crowded on:

  • Weekdays before 10 AM (or weekends before 9 AM)
  • Between 4-5:00 in the afternoon
  • Any day after 8:00 at night

Keep in mind that if you’re shopping at night, service areas like the deli might be closed.

While those might not be the most convenient times to shop, you will find your shopping trip will be so much more efficient.

It might just be worth waking up early or staying up late one day a week to shop in peace.

5. Shop alone

Unless you have super-helpful and efficient family members, I recommend shopping by yourself.

Bringing more people just means more distractions and waiting around while they look at things. Shopping alone also eliminates the potential for arguments about what to buy.

Leave your kids and spouse at home whenever possible!

How to save time grocery shopping when you're busy! These smart shopping tips will show you how to grocery shop efficiently (and on a budget!)

6. The list. And only the list.

Making a detailed grocery list is definitely one of the top grocery tips of smart shoppers.

But the real secret is to put your blinders on and ONLY BUY WHAT’S ON THE LIST.

It sounds so easy. But then you get into the store, and they extra have all those racks of cute stuff. An delicious-looking items you’ve never heard of.

If your store also sells clothes, shoes, home decor, flowers, etc. you’ll have to use extra willpower!

Anyone who’s turned a 30 minute grocery run into 90 minutes of mindless wandering knows what I’m talking about.

Sticking to your list also means you’ll spend less money on impulse purchases!

Pro-tip: Organize your list by the route you take through the store, keeping like items together. Just do a first draft brain-dump list, then rewrite it in a more organized fashion. (Hint…the master grocery list does this for you!)

7. Have the store shop FOR you

Similar to SHIPT, many grocery stores are now offering to have their employees do all the shopping for you for a small fee.

You place your order through their website or app, then choose a time to pick it up.

The employee will bring your groceries out to your car when you arrive.

Most stores offer this service for free for your first few orders. Then it’s around $5 or so.

Some of the benefits of having the store shop for you include:

  • Being able to double check if you have an ingredient before ordering so you don’t accidentally purchase something you already have. (I know I’m not the only one who’s done that!)
  • Seeing your total cost before you place your order, so it’s easier to stay within your budget.
  • Being able to save your go-to items on the store’s website or app for easy reordering.
  • Saving money by cutting down impulse buys.
  • Saving tons of time of course!

How to save time grocery shopping when you're busy! These smart shopping tips will show you how to grocery shop efficiently (and on a budget!)

8. Start shopping biweekly

The less often you go to the grocery store, the more time you’ll save. Try to switch to biweekly shopping trips instead of every week.

It may take a little while to get used to, but once you start only having to shop twice a month, you’ll love it!

To make your food stretch, stock up on your staple items when they’re on sale.

Example: If you buy a box of Cheerios every week at $5, buy 4-6 when they’re sale-priced at $3.50. You’re saving $1.50 a box, and don’t have to purchase any more for at least a month.

Pro-tip: Plan to eat the perishable produce in the first week, and buy frozen or canned fruits and veggies for the second week.

9. Shop at smaller stores

In case you didn’t know, I LOVE Aldi. Yes, their prices are fantastic. But the other best part of Aldi is how quickly you can shop, checkout, and be on your way home.

With smaller footprints and far fewer frills and distractions, you can totally do an entire grocery shop in like 20 minutes.

When there’s more than 2 people in line, they open another register, so checkout is always fast.

Try switching to a smaller store for at least some of your grocery trips, and you’ll be surprised how much more efficient it is.

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How to save time grocery shopping when you're busy! These smart shopping tips will show you how to grocery shop efficiently (and on a budget!)

10. Use coupon matchup sites

I used to spend forever looking through the sales flyer AND all of my coupons trying to piece together some good deals.

Then I discovered a couple websites that do it all for me!

They’re called coupon matchup sites, and they’re useful even if you don’t use coupons regularly.

These coupon sites list all the sale prices for your store, and any applicable coupons (printable or digital) and Ibotta rebates.

There’s always way more on sale than your store flyer shows. The matchup sites also detail the very best deals.

This is a timesaver because you can just look through their list of deals while you’re making your shopping list.

My favorite coupon matchups are Bargains to Bounty and Kroger Krazy. They might be different depending on where you live.

Just Google “{your state/your store} coupon matchups” (ie. Kroger coupon matchups) and you can find the best ones in your area.

11. Freezer cooking

You may wonder how freezer cooking could possibly save you time grocery shopping, but hear me out.

Let’s say you spend an hour or so prepping a bunch of meals to keep in your freezer once a month. You’ve saved time on future shopping trips because you buy all the ingredients at once.

You’ll be super pleased with yourself in those future weeks when you’re eating the dinners you already made.

Not only will you have a much smaller shopping list (or perhaps none at all if you’ve stocked up well), but you’ll save time from having to cook from scratch.

Eat at Home Meal Plans actually includes 6 freezer meals every month that you can get prepped in under 1 hour!

the easiest way to meal plan

12. Use your grocery store app

Many chain grocery stores have an app now. I find the ones that I use (Meijer and Kroger) to be a HUGE timesaver.

Right on the app, I can:

  • See which of my regular items are on sale (it actually makes me a list of them)
  • AMmake a digital shopping list
  • Clip digital coupons super fast
  • Scroll through the weekly ad
  • Search for items to see their price and even which aisle they’re in
  • Place an order for pickup
  • Refill prescriptions

Talk about convenient!

13. Choose the right checkout lane

After years of always choosing the wrong checkout lane, I’ve learned a few things.

Here are some tips for choosing the fastest one:

  • Always pick the lane with fewer people even if they have more in their carts (each actual payment transaction can add up to 1 minute).
  • Get familiar with the which cashiers move the fastest and get in their line.
  • Scope out the customers in front of you – look for customers that are moving quickly unloading and reloading their cart, don’t have tons of fresh produce, and avoid those who are being chatty or acting picky.
  • Never go to a lane if the light is flashing, since it means they’re waiting for a manager.
  • Try self-checkout if the other lines are long (as long as you don’t have lots of fresh produce or coupons, and aren’t buying items that require someone come check your ID).

Above all, watch out for those cashiers who want to tell you their life story!

How to save time grocery shopping when you're busy! These smart shopping tips will show you how to grocery shop efficiently (and on a budget!)

14. Turn off phone notifications

Grocery shopping (and everything else) is just going to take a LOT more time if you keep stopping to react to every notification on your phone.

Be mindful of always reacting to external circumstances. You’ll feel a lot more in control of your life in general if you stay focused on the task at hand.

One annoying news headline, text message, or Facebook notification can totally distract you and possibly ruin your mood.

Silence your phone, and take the 30-45 minutes it takes to shop in peace.

15. Save previous meal plans and shopping lists

You can do this whether you use Eat at Home Meal Plans or come up with your own weekly menus.

Hang onto those meal plans and their coordinating shopping lists, and that cuts down your planning time DRASTICALLY.

Come up with 6-12 weekly meal plans and make lists the ingredients you’ll need to make each one. Then simply cycle through them.

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As you can see, there are a ton of smart ways to grocery shop more efficiently.

From coming up with your plan ahead of time (or letting someone else do it for you), to avoiding distractions and staying focused, being prepared always pays off. 

We all have to eat, so incorporating these ways to save time at the grocery store means you’ll have more energy and bandwidth to do the things you actually enjoy!

What are your favorite time-saving grocery shopping tips?

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How to save time grocery shopping when you're busy! These smart shopping tips will show you how to grocery shop efficiently (and on a budget!)

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