6 Tips to Save Time When You’re Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

Like I wrote in the previous post, meal planning and writing an organized grocery list that you stick to will do the lion's share of the work if you're trying to save time grocery shopping.

But there are other nuanced parts to the preparation and shopping that can help it go even faster and more efficiently from home, to the store, and back again. 

So let's dive in! Here's six tips for getting out of the store and into the kitchen faster. 


Stick to One Store

If cooking is or becomes your passion like it has for me, you'll want to explore boutique and specialty shops for higher quality or unique ingredients.

But when you're starting out it's all about building a habit you can sustain. Stick to one grocery store that's convenient and/or cheap for you. Even different stores that are a part of the same chain can vary enough to really throw off your groove and waste a lot of time. 

After reading my last post on organizing your grocery lists to save time, Lauren had this great example on how she organizes her lists:

Since she's so familiar with her local WinCo and Albertsons, Lauren knows how best to organize her list to get in and out. And this goes to show there isn't a best method to follow, there's only your best method.

"Shop" at Home First

We (okay, Kailee and Kolleen) just cleaned out and organized our pantry. It was littered with four bags of cumin, half-empty bags of various nuts and dry ingredients, and canned goods from Y2K.

 This is because we aren't great at following this step, but if you write out your grocery list and then go through your pantry and fridge to cross off what you already have you'll save lots of time and money at the grocery store. 

no... not like that...

Meal Plan Based On What You Have in Stock

This is the obvious next step in organization and planning to the step above.

Before you even open up Pinterest or your favorite cookbook to start meal planning, go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what you have.

Use the ingredients that will go bad first and find recipes based around them when you make your meal plan. 

Keep Ingredients Organized In Your Cart

If you're already shopping by section this will be easy. But keeping similar ingredients together in the cart and on the cashier's belt will get you organized bags you can put away quickly when you get home. 

It might sound small, but opening the freezer 14 times because you have a different frozen item in each bag is frustrating, wastes time, and energy (like... literally... from the freezer. It get's warm, yo).

Don't Grocery Shop Hungry

Snicker's ads and this The Oatmeal comic are right, you're not you when you're hungry.

You'll end up with craving foods that throw off your meal planning, get into arguments if you're shopping with an SO, and generally just be slower and get frustrated if you go hungry. 

So make a sandwich, eat a spoonful of peanut butter, chug some water (you're probably dehydrated too, most of us are)...

I don't really care, just sate that hunger before you get surrounded by food. 

And no - opening a bag of chips when you get to the store to munch on while you shop doesn't count.

And Stick to Your List!

Yeah, I'm doing that thing where I repeat the thing I've been saying as a separate step because it's important.

Because it is.

If you spend a little bit of time writing out an organized list and then stick to it you'll get out fast and on or under budget. Wandering around the store is a great way to waste time, money, and often your waistline (waistline... waste time... waste line... get it?).

And if you aren't using an organized grocery list you can pick one up by pressing here.

I disagree, but people tell me I don't know everything. So what tips-and-tricks do you use to get in-and-out of the grocery store faster? Let me know in the comments below. 

  • Seriously, I don’t know everything. Leave a comment with your time saving tips (doesn’t have to be grocery shopping related) and let’s help each other out!