How to save time grocery shopping

Posted by Gjermund Bjaanes on February 7, 2016

This is pure productivity / time-saving tip that is not related to programming in any way.

It is however one the best tips I got. I think a lot of people would benefit a lot from it.


One of the biggest time saving changes I have done in my life was probably to change how I do grocery shopping.

The concept is super simple and probably obvious to most people:

Do your grocery shopping as seldom as you can.


Shop for at least a week at a time (expiration dates can a problem, but it’s usually solvable by a freezer).


Save time and money stock image


It saves you a lot of time. And money. Every time you go shopping, it’s so easy to buy things you don’t need too. Perhaps something sweet. I know that tends to happen to me.

Going to the grocery store almost every day also takes up a lot of time.

The reason it takes up so much time is because there is quite a bit to it. It doesn’t sound lik much, but hear me out:

You have to get there. You have to park. Maneuver around the store to find things. Perhaps you meet someone you know. Stand in line. Get home.

It ads up pretty quickly to a lot of time. Then you can multiply by how often you go to the store.


How to actually do this

Going to the grocery store less often is easier said than done, s o I have prepared a few steps that will help you getting this right.


1. Set up a day for grocery shopping

I do my grocery shopping every friday, because that fits neatly into my schedule. It doesn’t really matter, just pick a day, and stick to it (within reason of course).

Having a specific day makes it easier to plan for - because you know you need to do the shopping that day.

Make it a part of your schedule and routine. It’s just something you do that day.


2. Create a dinner list

This is important. Almost as important as the shopping list.

Sit down and plan your week in terms of dinners. Set up 7 dinners and don’t deviate from them during the week.

Which day you eat them doesn’t matter - as long as you stick to choices you made.

This also makes is easier to select healthier food. You can plan some fish or some vegetarian meals.

It’s just so much easier to chose something smart when you do it ahead of time.

I have a list in Evernote called “Weekly meals”. There I write down all my planned meals, so I won’t forget.


Another neat tip when doing this is to have a list of dinners you know you like. If you can’t think of any dinners, just go to your predefined list of “go-to dinners”.

Every time I eat something new that I enjoy, I write it down on that list. And if I have the recipe I link that to the entry (using Evernote links).


3. Create a shopping list

And of course, the shopping list. This is of course extremely important.

Write down everything you need to make the dinners you have planned, plus any other things you might need for breakfast, lunches (milk, cereal, etc).

Take your time and be as accurate as possible. If you forget something it will eat away at your time later, because you will have to go to the store again.

For this I currently use an app called “Buy Me a Pie” which is cross-platform and lets me share the list with my girlfriend.


4. Shop

This one is fairly obvious. You need to bring your shopping list and do the shopping.

Stick to the list and get this over with. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.

And seriously, don’t be too hungry when you go shopping - that is not helpful.


Once you are done you don’t have to do it for another week!

Follow me on Twitter: @gjermundbjaanes