Most of us spend more than an hour grocery shopping. Here's how to cut that time in half.
By Lynn Andriani
Stop Writing a Shopping List the Way You Always Have
You already know not to set foot in the store without a written plan of everything you need. But if your crib sheet reads something like, "milk/chicken/broccoli/pasta/yogurt/avocado," you're going to be spending extra time darting from aisle to aisle and back again. Taking 60 seconds before you leave home to rewrite your list so that it's sorted by section is one of the easiest ways to streamline your shopping -- and to get in and out minutes faster. Or, use one of the many grocery-list apps, such as Pepperplate or Paprika, which do the sorting for you—and have other helpful features, including one that removes an item from the list as soon as you tap on it, so by the time you're finished shopping, the list is clear.
DVR Your Favorite Thursday Night Show
Erin Gifford, who is a spokesperson for ZipList, a grocery-list and recipe tool, food shops for her seven-person household every week in just 35 minutes. She pretty much has her weekly routine down to a science -- she goes to the same store at 8:30 a.m. on Thursdays, when she knows it'll just be her and the people who restock the shelves (bonus: later in the week is also when you'll find the best deals). If weekday mornings aren't an option for you, try weeknights, after dinner—that's when Jess Dang, who founded the meal-planning service Cook Smarts, shops. And one more reason to avoid weekends: A Time Use Institute study found that people spend seven minutes longer in grocery stores on Saturdays and Sundays than they do on weekdays.
The Checkout Line to Skip If You're Buying Lollipop Kale Sprouts
Although the majority of shoppers believe self-checkout systems are faster than lanes with human cashiers, according to one survey, that may not actually be true, especially if your cart includes produce, which may or may not be tagged with a sticker code (cashiers tend to memorize the code for, say, gala apples, while computers definitely don't). If the lines are equal, you're probably better off opting for a person. Another thing to remember: The express lane isn't always the quickest.
Ask for a Favor at the Deli Counter
The deli counter can be one of the biggest time sucks in the store. Instead of watching the store employee slice your ham, turkey and provolone cheese to the perfect thickness, Dang says you could shave minutes off your shopping by asking if you can drop off your order and return for it in five minutes -- during which time you can hit up the meat section or cereal aisle, then swing back just before you're ready to check out.