Repost: Guidelines for Efficient and Effective Grocery Shopping

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While transferring groceries from the shopping cart to my car this afternoon, I remembered the following post, which appeared on Whiskertips last year.

Specifically, I remembered sections 10.1 and 10.2, concerning the connection between heat index and the propriety of leaving one’s shopping cart right in the middle of someone else’s potential parking space.

Today’s heat index was ‘way above 85, and it took all the energy I had to be a good citizen and march that cart back to where it belonged.

While marching, I remembered a few other things I’d written. And from the distance of fifteen months, some of them seemed rather opinionated. Sharp. Pointed. Callous. Mean-spirited. Churlish. Malicious. Downright nasty.

Not too nasty, however, to keep me from re-posting here.


While reviewing Pat Hoglund’s Have I Got a Story for You, I was impressed by how similar Ms. Hoglund and I are in our approach to grocery shopping. We both want to get in and out of the store as soon as possible.

For several years, I’ve been compiling a list of guidelines for grocery shopping. I offer them here for your edification.

How to Shop for Groceries

1.0      Produce

1.1      If you have to examine every single green bean before selection, you should not be buying green beans. Wait until a fresh crop comes in. See section 6.1.

1.2      There is no such thing as a perfect apple, orange, tangerine, tomato, lemon, onion, potato…I could go on ad infinitum. Unless it’s markedly discolored or mushy to the touch, take it and move along. See section 6.1.

2.0      Everything else

2.1      It doesn’t matter whether you get the potato chips or the Doritos. If the kids don’t like them, let them eat broccoli. Put something in your basket and move along. See section 6.1.

2.2      Section 2.1 applies to everything else the store sells except cottage cheese.

3.0      Cottage cheese

3.1      When buying cottage cheese in a plastic carton, take off the lid and check the seal underneath before putting the carton into your cart. People will look at you funny but any embarrassment you experience will shrink in reverse proportion to the disgust you’ll feel at home when you remove the lid and curds schloop down the side.

3.2      If you find the seal broken, do not replace the carton in the dairy case for someone else to buy. Other people don’t want it either. Hand it to a store employee and explain.

4.0      Cell phones

4.1      Do not use your cell phone while shopping.

4.2     In an emergency, calling home to ask a grocery-related question is marginally acceptable, but step out of the flow of traffic until the conference has concluded, and do not block shelves. See section 6.1.

4.3      When observing section 4.2, do not look directly at me, because that makes me think you’re talking to me, and I’m tired of feeling foolish for answering the questions you aim at me.

5.0      MP3 players

5.1      If you insist on walking through the store with those little buttons jammed into your ears, at least turn down the volume so other shoppers don’t have to listen to the bop-bop-bop.

5.2      Pay attention to your surroundings. The littlest of blue-haired ladies will exhibit aisle rage when stepped on by a person one-third her age.

6.0      Physical activity

6.1      When a shopper with a determined glint in her eye comes charging down the aisle toward you, do not just stand there mulling over Campbell’s versus Progresso. Get out of the way. Some people get most of their physical activity between the celery and the tortillas, and slowing down to avoid hitting you also slows their heart rate. Other people just want to get home. Furthermore, unless you’re making green bean casserole, buy the Progresso. The tomato basil is good.

7.0      Children

7.1      Corral your children. See section 6.1.

8.0      Socializing

8.1      When you meet the best friend you haven’t seen since last Friday, repair to the coffee shop for a tete-a-tete. See section 6.1.

9.0      Checkout

9.1      At the checkout, do not line up behind a woman* with children. Women with children are too distracted to have their cash, check, or credit card ready when it’s time to pay. It’s also possible they’ve sent one of the children back to the aisles to find something they forgot, in which case they probably chose the least obedient, the most distractible, or the one with the lowest reading level.

*The term woman is intended to be inclusive. Seeing a man in charge of children at the grocery store is so rare, at least in my experience, that I consider woman the more acceptable term.

9.2      At checkout, do not line up behind anyone who smokes.** The smoker will ask for a pack of cigarettes, and the cashier will have to either open the little safe above her head or walk the length of the store to access the vault where tobacco products are stored.

**I have no idea how to identify people who smoke. Just do your best.

9.3      At checkout, do not line up behind anyone holding a cell phone. This rule is self-explanatory.

9.4      At checkout, do line up behind men. Unless they smoke, men pay and leave quickly.

9.5     At checkout, do line up behind older people, even those who look like they will take forever. And be nice. You’ll get there yourself someday.

9.6      Have cash, check, or credit card ready as soon as possible after your order is rung up.

9.7      Smile at the cashier and the sacker. They’ve been on their feet all day waiting for people to get out their cash, checks, and credit cards, and to finish their cell phone conversations.

10.0   Parking lot

10.1   Leave the shopping cart in the cart return.

10.2   If heat index is above 85 degrees, feel free to ignore section 10.1.

10.3   In observing section 10.2, secure cart so it cannot run amok.

10.4   When leaving the parking lot, turn right. Do not attempt to turn left across traffic. Going around the block is faster than waiting for an opportunity to avoid being broadsided.

Although the above list is extensive, it is by no means exhaustive. I will post further suggestions as they occur to me. I would also be happy to hear from any readers who care to add guidelines I’ve not included. Feel free to list them in the comments section following this post.


16 thoughts on “Repost: Guidelines for Efficient and Effective Grocery Shopping

  1. 10.1 isn’t that hard. Just always park next to the cart return. They’re usually out a ways and not that many people want to part clear out there. This helps with 6.1, too–more physical activity walking in to the store. I had no idea about Progresso. I usually get Campbell’s. But only because I like the rolling can dispensers. They’re so cool.


    1. I shop at an old store with an itsy bitsy parking lot. To get a space beside a cart return, I’d have to shop at 3:00 a.m. And high summer is the last time I want physical activity. I put the darned things back, but I think 10.2 should be a rule.

      I buy Campbell’s for cooking and Progresso for eating. Progresso meats and vegetables are more substantial.


    1. Hello Kate! Fancy meeting you here!

      Kathy, I hate grocery shopping so I love this. Definitely worth re-posting for those of us who haven’t seen it.


      1. The best days are the ones when my husband calls from work and says, “Should I pick up anything at the store?” And, just by chance, I haven’t been grocery shopping yet, so I say, “Well, as a matter of fact…” But I’m afraid he’s catching on.

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you’ll come again.


    2. I love children, but not when they stand between me and the lettuce. Sheepdog is a good idea–just in case a little nip needs to be administered.

      I’m glad you laughed. I love that response, too.


      1. The cashier invites me into the 10 item lane when I have a full cart, and then people line up behind me, and they glare at me, and I want to crawl into the little space at the bottom of the cart where the dogfood goes. But I don’t fit.

        So I’ll wait patiently for you, because I’ve done the same, and worse.


  2. This was amazing. I do believe the reason it is so amazing is because it is completely true. Luckily, when I was a child, my mother always sent me to get stuff because I never got side-tracked. I wanted to get the heck out of the store.

    To all those people who lined up behind my mother and I, your welcome.


    1. Sarah, I’m glad you like the post. When I was in college, my mother became ill, so I did the shopping for a couple of years. My father sometimes went with me. My mother later told me he’d said I could get through a grocery store faster than anyone else he’d ever seen. That was because I wanted OUT. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I hope you’ll return.


  3. I’m just screaming, here, Kathy! I must agree with Kaye — one must put one’s cart in the cart return. Of course where I live it rarely gets over 85 degrees…heck, it rarely even reaches 80.

    I do have one rule I wish people would obey — finish your grocery shopping BEFORE you get in the checkout line!


    1. That’s a very good rule. I will add it to my list.

      You’re right about the cart, of course, and I do behave myself in that regard. But in a place where it rarely reaches 80–I would happily return everyone’s cart.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope you’ll return.


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