How to Save Time While Shopping

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If you don’t have the time or you feel rushed while shopping, it isn’t much fun and it can cost you, both in time and money. Consider these tips for saving time while shopping.

girl leaning on a full shopping cart at Walmart.

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As they say, time is money. If you cook from scratch at home, something that can take a little extra time, you can save money. If you repair your car yourself, using some of your free time, you can do it much more cheaply than if you took it to the shop.

If you’re out shopping and don’t spend a lot of time doing it, you can save time — and therefore money — to spend on something else. Most of us know from experience that there are lots of ways that you can spin your wheels and squander time running errands and shopping for groceries.

So how can you save time while shopping?

1. Map out your stops.

If you’ve got more than one stop to make, visit those stores in the most efficient order, so that you can avoid backtracking. If you know that you want to go to Trader Joe’s but it’s on the other side of town, plan to go there when you’re already in that next of the woods rather than make a special trip just for that.

Make a Reusable Grocery List Life as MOM

2. Take an ordered list.

Everyone knows that you should take a list when you shop so that you don’t wander aimlessly, but have you ever stopped to arrange your grocery list in the way things are located in the store? By creating your list in this way, you can take one path through the store instead of zigzagging to and fro throughout the store. Better yet, make a reusable shopping list to save even more time.

3. Shop from home.

Nowadays between the Amazonian Amazon and your local grocery store delivery service, you don’t have to leave your home to shop — unless you want to. If you know you’re prone to getting distracted and bringing home more than you need, online shopping may be just the things for you.

I never buy toilet paper at the store. I haven’t in years because I use Amazon Subscribe and Save to have it automatically shipped. In a household of eight people and four bathrooms, you don’t really want to run out.

4. Don’t do any sightseeing.

You’ve probably all seen the video of the lady who gets distracted in Target. Don’t be that girl! You will spend more money, buy things you don’t need, and waste time.

If you’ve got a tight schedule, plan a leisure shopping trip for another day. Today, you need to focus. Get in and get out.

Grocery store produce section

5. Go alone.

I know, sometimes that’s easier said than done, but shopping without children or husbands can definitely streamline the process, unless of course you’re at Costco and need some muscle. Then definitely bring the husband and teenage boys along.

6. Know your store.

You can shop most efficiently if you know your store. Some stores have maps on the shopping cart; some don’t. If you don’t know where something is located, ask. I’ve got two stores from the same chain 2 and 2 1/2 miles from my house. I end up going to the one that’s a little farther away because I know that place like the back of my hand. I make up for that extra mile by saving time in the store.

7. Shop just one store.

I regularly shop at Costco, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, and Ralphs. Five stores?! Yes, because some things are cheaper at one over the other stores. During busy seasons, however, I can save time by sticking with one shop. One stop once a week with that list (see point #2) can save me oodles of time.

And, as you know, time is money.

How do YOU save time shopping?

For more tips on grocery shopping in general and saving money on food, check out my Grocery Geek feature on Good Cheap Eats.

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  1. We have one City Market in our small town. If I want sams club, walmart, Albertsons, Safeway or sprouts it’s only 15-20 minutes away but I have to make sure my savings outdo the gas round-trip price. We don’t have any stores that do double coupons so I save more on my city market e-coupons than price matching at walmart because luckily few of the other places can beat their price. Sprouts is my one exception, nobody can usually touch their produce prices and it’s our favorite brand of boneless pork and chicken breasts but only at $1.99/lb. Otherwise walmart (right next door) has a constant price of $1.99 chicken breasts which aren’t quite as tasty but good enough for how I cook them. I just tend to use those for shredded chicken from the crockpot instead of grilling. I digress, we also like the bulk trail mix and granola at sprouts so while I don’t go there every week unless it’s summer, we go at least once a month and I only go on Wednesday when you get double ad prices (that weeks and the previous weeks). I also use excel to order my grocery list by section and aisle and since we don’t get the paper I budget an extra $25 in case there’s a super sale on an item to stock up on. If I don’t use that money I just roll it to the next week for the same reason or an occasional splurge. I also use Amazon subscribe and save for my six biggest Target/Walmart staples. This saves me tons of money in time, has and impulse buys and I can adjust as needed at any time. Although my husband hates the garage looking like sams club lol. And I also get all my cleaning products from It’s just under $50 for six products however often you set it up but I find that just like with Amazon I save on all those reasons plus they’re all natural and they last me longer than their counterparts. AND their customer service is FABULOUS. I recently called because I made an order change on my phone but somehow it didn’t update in the system and when I called, instead of having me do a return they let me keep all the products and sent me 7 products of my choice for the inconvenience. Now that’s customer service!! Well I can’t think of much more that I do besides printable coupons.

  2. I always order my grocery list in the way the store is set up. It really makes me frustrated to have to back-track 🙂 But about a year ago, our store switched everything around! I was so confused for weeks until I finally learned the new order. I like some things about the new set-up better, but I hope I don’t have to learn a new store anytime soon–that was rough 🙂

    Oooh–and we’re getting a new Sprouts here. I know I’ve seen you mention it before, so I’m excited to see how it compares to the other stores we already have (Kroger, Publix, Costco, Sam’s, and Earth Fare).

  3. I make my shopping list on the computer in an Excel file throughout the week. Once a week I go through and see if I have coupons for items on the list. For each item on my list I note the category and then sort the list by category before I print it. Therefore, when I get to the dairy section of the store all the dairy items I want are together on the list. This saves so MUCH time. I used to back track all the time while shopping–probably good exercise, but a huge time waster. When I get home from the store I record the price of each item purchased. This gives me a running price book as well so I can keep track of prices over time. I do nearly 100% of my grocery shopping at one store.

  4. I don’t save time on shopping, I go to multiple stores, with a list. I need time to shop and look for changes in the stores , but I have put in prep time?

  5. I definitely create a list based on where things are in the store – not aisle by aisle – but more section by section. When my three daughters were teenagers we would occasionally do what I called a “blitz” shop if we were really trying to save time. I would rip the list into parts and give one piece to each of us – a good specific list and some shopper training are required. We’d meet up at the checkout : )