Six Crucial Rules for Grocery Shopping

Monday, Nov 19, 2012 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (19)

If you didn’t get your food shopping done this weekend, you are sure to hit the supermarket at some point in the next few days. Well, I am here to make your shopping experience easier. And in doing so, I make my shopping experience easier. Isn’t it nice how that works?

Yes, I do the cooking and the food shopping in my house. The holidays are no exception. So as we all descend on the grocery stores this week and in the weeks leading up to Hanukkah and Christmas, there are certain things we can do to ensure everyone stays sane. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

1. Leave Your Kids at Home. I understand that sometimes this is unavoidable, but the grocery store really is no place for children. It’s stocked with foods that are no good for them. Besides, they’re just going to slow you down, cost you more money by forcing you to buy those unhealthy snacks to appease them, and annoy you and your fellow shoppers. I adore my daughter and I love spending time with her… anywhere but the grocery store.

2. Don’t Squeeze the Charmin. Meaning, don’t lollygag. Know your stuff. Make your list, check it twice. Know where things are located. This is not the time of year to be trying new stores you’re unfamiliar with or looking for new ingredients you never use. You’re going to get in somebody’s (my) way and get run over by a distracted parent pushing a cart full of Ring Dings. (God rest their soul.)

3. Follow Parking Protocol: I’m not just talking about road rage in the parking lot. Of course you should yield to pedestrians and be courteous to other drivers. You should also return your cart to the designated drop-off areas. But I’m going to let you in on my little secret here: while IN the store, park your cart at the FRONT of the aisle. That way, you can go down one aisle, up the next, and put your handful of groceries in your cart without blocking the aisle for other shoppers. You will, however, block that display of cereal that’s on sale. That’s just a sacrifice I’m willing to make, especially in stores with narrow aisles. I understand this may pose a problem for those of you who carry purses and like to leave them in the  cart.

4. Mind the Line: Once you’re ready to check out, your work is not over. In fact, this is the most crucial part of your shopping trip. Checking out is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. So please, put down that issue of Us Weekly. The latest escapades of Katie and Suri can wait. You still have work to do. For example, be courteous of the person behind you. (Me.) If possible, make sure there’s enough room on the conveyer belt for me to start unloading my groceries. You should be standing in front of your cart to allow me to move my cart up as far as possible and unload it. Bonus points if you put the little separator stick thingy on there for me. (Check-out is also a big reason why my #1 reason above is so necessary.)

5. Don’t Pay by Check: Ever. Unless you’re like 80 years old. If that’s the case, then people shouldn’t be getting behind you in line. They deserve to wait while you write a check.

6. Bag Your Own: I saved the most important for last. Unless you have a physical ailment that prevents you from being able to perform this very simple task, bag your own groceries. Are you really going to watch the cashier do it for you? While someone waits in line behind you? Sure, you could argue it’s part of their job. But what about your job? Your job, remember, is to get in and out of there as quickly as possible, and to help me do the same. That’s not happening if the cashier has to take the time to bag the groceries that you are capable of bagging yourself. Please. Make their day. And mine. The cashier will always thank you for bagging. And they mean it.

I might sound like a crazy person, but I assure you I am in and out of the supermarket in 45 minutes or less every time. No kids. No fuss. No carts in the aisle.

Now you have no excuse. See you in the store.

Justin is a husband, dad, and writer who sometimes writes more sentimental posts about Thanksgiving at Daddy Knows Less.


  1. POSTED BY Jenn  |  November 19, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    Also – be nice to the cashier! I worked at a Pathmark for a few years during high school, and it amazed me how many folks would just ignore my existence. This also ties into the bagging your own – because my way of getting back at jerks was doing a real number on the crushable items! #cansoverbread

  2. POSTED BY Liz George  |  November 19, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    Going to add one — stay in touch with your own cart (my apologies to the person whose cart I adopted for several minutes last week at Whole Foods)

  3. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  November 19, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    I have another one. Encourage the elderly to do their grocery shopping during the week and not on weekends.

  4. POSTED BY carlysue  |  November 19, 2012 @ 9:42 am

    Another tip- leave the extended family at home with the kids. Nothing worse than maneuvering around five people with one cart, or not being able to unload your groceries on the belt because they take up the whole checkout lane.

  5. POSTED BY bikepedlt  |  November 19, 2012 @ 10:18 am

    Pull your cart to the side to let others pass! 🙂

    Also – sing along to the 70’s music. I was singin’ “Feelings. Whoa oh oh, feel – ings” in Shop Rite the other day. Knew all the words, too!

  6. POSTED BY jdmannato  |  November 19, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    These are great suggestions!

    @Jenn: I am always friendly to them. And it pays off…. like when I left my 15% off coupon at home and they moved mountains to give me the discount. They remember me.

    @Liz: I agree… but I must admit that if I am distracted by my blackberry I too will walk off with someone else’s cart.

    @Herb: Hilarious. (Unless you’re serious!)

    @Carly: Absolutely. This isn’t family bonding time. We’re here to get in and get out.

    @Bike: Hall & Oates and Air Supply also seem to be very popular.

  7. POSTED BY Kristin  |  November 19, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    Justin, you clearly do not shop at ShopRite. They ALWAYS have a bagger there to help out. Unless you’re in the express aisle. But the baggers are super quick, and whenever I inadvertently end up at some other place, I always slow everyone up because I’m over thinking the baggage of my lettuce and asparagus.

    Why is it that the more expensive places don’t have regular baggers? Seems oxymoronic to me.

  8. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  November 19, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    Get out of Mannato’s way everyone!

    1. Leave Your Kids at Home.
    Utter nonsense. How do they learn to shop? How do they learn you can’t have only junk food? How will they learn how to select produce? Enjoy shopping with your kids. Let them have a quarter for the gum ball machine.

    2. Don’t Squeeze the Charmin.
    I’m paying for the Charmin, I’ll squeeze it all I want. If I’m in your way, kindly say “excuse me” and I’ll happily move a few feet over for my squeezing.

    3. Follow Parking Protocol
    Leave your cart at the head of the aisle? That’s crazy-talk! First of all, the cart is for my convenience. Second, can you imaging if everyone did this? You’d have 6 carts clustered around the end of the aisle IN THE WAY of the poor slob who wants to buy the cereal!

    4. Mind the Line:
    Standing in front of your cart or behind your cart has no effect on how close Mr. Mannato can get his cart to the conveyor belt. 3+6 = 6+3 It’s the cumulative law of addition
    Mr. Mannato.

    5. Don’t Pay by Check:
    If they accept checks, pay by check if you want. The polite thing to do is accept that other people will have different payment choices and priorities from oneself. If someone is disturbed by the 30 second delay in their day as a result of check writing, that’s a problem they should address in themselves.

    6. Bag Your Own:
    Nonsense. You are the customer, it’s your choice. You don’t need to bag -your-own anymore than you need to wash-your-own at a restaurant.

    Let’s remember we’re not just extras in the movie, The Convenient Life of Mr. Monnato

  9. POSTED BY mmmm  |  November 19, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    Putting the shopping list in the same order in which items appear in the store also shortens the trip. As for the shopping carts, picking up one that has already been left in the parking lot means you can return the cart where you found it when done.

  10. POSTED BY Conan  |  November 19, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    Justin. Justin. Justin. Justin. This is Sheldon. Can you take me food shoppping, please.?

  11. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  November 19, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    Thanks ROC, you summed up my feelings exactly.

    I guess Justin had an unpleasant pre-TG shopping experience recently.

  12. POSTED BY jdmannato  |  November 19, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

    Not at all. I had a great shopping experience on Sunday… and I also have a sense of humor.

    Oh, I don’t go to Shop Rite, Kristin. It’s too big and busy for me. But of course if the baggers are there, let them work.

    Thanks for all of the great comments.

  13. POSTED BY Jenn  |  November 19, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

    #7 Wear pants:
    Hey, don’t tell me when I can and cannot wear pants!

  14. POSTED BY jdmannato  |  November 19, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    Pants are optional at whole foods…part of their organic vibe.

  15. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  November 19, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

    The kids thing I don’t understand. My kids love to go shopping with Daddy, I however do not like to shop with my kids. Mostly because I hate grocery shopping.

    I do ShopRite online pick up and I don’t have to wear anything!:

  16. POSTED BY Kristin  |  November 19, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

    Absolutely what mmmmmmmmmmm said. I take an elderly woman shopping every two weeks and her son makes the grocery list based on all the ShopRite aisles – it is not only faster, but it also relieves a lot of the “I missed it and now I have to go all the way back to aisle 2 to get it” issues.

    I’m not organized to do it, but I strive to get there someday.

  17. POSTED BY lucylou  |  November 19, 2012 @ 7:32 pm home delivery at my convenience, 7 days a week. They sell beer and wine, too. Wonderful quality, prices competitive. Sort of an at-home Whole Foods meets ShopRite and Fairway Market. I still go to local supermarket to restock some perishable items or to refill prescriptions. Happy cornucopia full of bounty to all!

  18. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  November 19, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

    Wow! Who knew people took their grocery shopping so seriously?!

    Here are my rules:
    1) Make the list.
    2) Organize the coupons
    3) Send my husband.

  19. POSTED BY lisadavies  |  November 19, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    My only rule – never send my husband. I have learned the hard way. Even when equipped with a list he forgets the essential stuff and will always buy whatever expensive stuff they are offering as samples.

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