What to do when you absolutely HATE grocery shopping

grocery shopping

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I have a confession to make.

I totally freaking hate grocery shopping.

I hate grocery shopping even more than I hate to cook.

Those are two very awkward admissions to make considering I make it my job to know how to eat a balanced and healthy diet.

So I really do understand why many people take the easy route with eating out, prepared meals and prepackaged foods despite what it’s doing to their health and waistlines.

Obstacles to making healthy food choices

Except for when your grocery store gets cute by moving things around, you know exactly where to find everything you currently buy.

There’s nothing more painful than trying to find something you never bought before. You don’t know what it looks like. It might be a type of food you never ate before.

You don’t know how it comes packaged. You might not be sure which part of the store to find it in.

Shop when the store is crazy busy or when you’re pressed for time and it’s a guarantee you’ll leave the store without that new product in your grocery bag.

Or perhaps you showed up at the store with the plan to look around in areas you don’t normally shop.

You see all kinds of foods and packages that seem exotic to you. Great! But if you don’t know how to prepare them or know if they’re really healthy or beneficial to you, do you buy them on a whim and hope for the best?

Maybe. But probably not.

Back up a step or two

When presented with so much choice and variety, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. While at the grocery store is the last place you want to make new choices or decide how to change your eating.

I explored many ways of eating over the last twenty years. So it’s nothing for me to sit down, create an entirely new menu plan for the week that’s different from what we’ve done for months and put it into action.

It’s not what I recommend most people do, however. Especially if you’re new to the game of changing how you eat.

Choose one small thing to change

Hopefully, you’re in the habit of creating a grocery list before going to the store. If not, at least make one for any new products or ingredients you plan to buy. That way you don’t forget to buy them or become stressed to remember them while shopping.

But first you need to decide what you plan to change about your eating this week. This is going to be different for everyone. It’s going to depend on what you’re ready to change and what your priorities are.

Some suggestions might look like this:

  • Prepare one supper that is made from all whole foods
  • Prepare one supper using fish instead of meat
  • Prepare one lunch that doesn’t use bread or lunchmeat
  • Plan to eat a fruit or vegetable as a healthy snack this week
  • Prepare a new recipe that calls for herbs and spices you never used before
  • Plan to change one of your favorite products to organic or Non-GMO label
  • Plan to change one of your favorite pasta products to one that contains 3 grams (or more) fiber per serving
  • Plan to change one of your favorite dairy products to low-fat or fat-free
  • Plan to try a new grain with one of your meals such as long-grain rice, quinoa, or couscous
  • Plan to change your favorite bread to one that contains more whole grains or has at least 3 grams of fiber per serving

Umm, yeah, I could keep going, but that should be enough to get you going if you needed some ideas.

Use your store’s online tools to help you

Gone are the days of showing up at your grocery store and hoping for the best. Many stores now have online tools to make shopping at their store easier.

Because I hate to shop, I want to spend as little time doing it as possible.

To make that possible, I use my store’s online grocery list creator.

I have a customer key tag that is scanned every time I shop. When I sign into my account online, the grocery list creator remembers every product I buy.

That makes it quick to find things I buy regularly to put on my list. I can also create saved lists for specific occasions. Or I can create a master list and then delete what I don’t need to buy this week.

My account knows my preferred shopping location (which I can change if I need to). That means when I print out my list, my items are ordered by which aisle I’ll find them in.

The other great thing about using the online tools is I can see what my products look like before getting to the store (in fact, printing product pictures on your list is an option too).

I don’t have a smart phone, but if I did, my store has an app for mobile phones. If I had one of those phones, I wouldn’t need to print out my list. I could access it right from my phone.

Shopping trips used to take an hour. Now they take 30 minutes. I’m able to fly through the store and hit only the aisles I need to pick up the items I want. One week, we had a very short list and I was able to get through the store in 15 minutes.

Shopping this way also cuts down on impulse purchases. The only drawback is if you forget to put an item on your list, you might not remember it while at the store since you might not visit that aisle.

What about stores that don’t offer these tools?

Request it! But most stores usually offer at least an aisle map listing major categories to make it easier to find things.

If you have new items on your list and you’re in a hurry, stop at the front desk or flag down an employee as soon as you see one and ask where you’ll find the item.

Don’t be like me and walk around for an hour first before your daughter rolls her eyes at you and asks someone for you.  😀

To sum up

If you want to make grocery shopping easier and faster, do these things to make that possible:

  • Decide what’s on the menu next week (including any new tweaks or changes)
  • If you’re buying something new, look up products online to compare nutrition facts and to know how they are packaged before going to the store
  • Create a physical or virtual grocery list
  • If your store has online tools to sort your list by aisle for you, great!
  • Otherwise look up your store’s aisle map and do your best to sort it yourself
  • Once you get to the store, if you’re not sure where to find an item, ask!
  • If possible, shop at off times so there’s less people in your way

Want to avoid the store completely?

In this follow up article, I reveal the latest tactics I’m using to avoid the store completely AND save money doing it!

Your turn

Do you enjoy grocery shopping? If so, why? If not, what do you do to make your trips more pleasant? Please share in the comments below!

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  1. Tammy R says:

    Lori, I am in the grocery shopping hate club. Oh boy, something about it just really bothers me. Time waster, I guess. CJ has to give me a pep talk as we drive in the parking lot. I’m horribly unorganized in this area, and I am not sure if he has told you that he does a Master List. It’s really lovely and ordered just like the store. When he was really busy with community college students one semester, I volunteered to go on Friday mornings. Even with the list it took me FOREVER. I mean, who can miss a circled item? Me, obviously. 😉

    Now we tag team the list. I “man” the cart and we have a pretty good system down.

    I do have to admit, we’ve thought about starting that grocery delivery business. But, I think that wouldn’t be a great business for two people who don’t like it. Our coffee van for teachers idea might be better. We do like coffee!!

    I hope you had a great end to your week and that the weekend is spectacular!

    • Lori says:

      Tammy! Great to see you!

      Tag team shopping helps. I almost always have one of my kids go with me if not both. It’s somebody to talk to and help. It really does help make it a bit more pleasant. I should have added that to the article!

      We’re in the process of creating a new routine. We don’t quite have it down yet. This past week threw a lot of monkey wrenches into our usual routine including not having the stomach to eat, but more about that another time.

      We’ve started drinking raw milk. There is a farm about 20 minutes from us that is certified. I discovered a gas station that sells gas much more cheaply than along my usual route, one of my bank’s branches, and another Wegman’s all near the farm. So to be a bit more environment friendly, we’re going to combine all our chores into one.

      On Friday, I grab eggs from the refrigerator where I work (my boss has range-free chickens and brings in eggs). The plan is; when I get home, I’ll pick up my kids, hit the gas station, hit the bank for cash, get our milk at the farm before they close and then hit the grocery store. Woot! All our driving chores done all at once. Maybe we’ll manage it next Friday.

      My son and I hit the new Wegman’s today. OMG is everything laid out differently from the two closer to us. I still haven’t managed to get back into my online account so it took us a very long time to find the few things we had on our handwritten list. One of these days I’ll remember to call customer service while they’re open to get that fixed.

      • Tammy R says:

        Lori, now that sounds like a master plan. I absolutely love getting things done all in one trip. We are definitely not. there. yet. We are lucky to have most of the places we need close by, and we are able to combine some trips and stop on the way back from lessons and such. We’re definitely not able to be car free in this place, and I don’t think we’ll ever be. As you may know, bikes didn’t go well for the two of us! 🙂

        Hope you have a great start to your week!

        • Lori says:

          Thanks, Tammy! I hope yours gets off to an awesome start, too.

          Biking isn’t my thing either. No bike lanes or even shoulders on most roads to ride one safetly around here. I keep thinking maybe I’ll buy a bike rack for my car so we can haul our bikes to parks to ride but it just isn’t a priority. So our bikes hang in the garage with totally deflated tires. They may end up out the door in one of our decluttering sessions at some point.

          • Tammy R says:

            We did that many years ago. When we were moving from our first to our second apartment here in Houston, I said, “We never ride these things. What about Jonathan’s family?” CJ and I walked over to the adjacent apartment building to the home of one of his elementary music students, knocked on the door, and asked the mom if they wanted two bikes. She was so happy!

            At that point, I didn’t care if they took them and sold them. I just wanted them gone! 🙂

          • Lori says:

            That’s pretty much the point I’m to. There’s a house in the north end of town that sells refurbished bikes. I’ve been thinking about taking the bikes up to him to see if he’ll give me a few dollars for them. But not having an easy way to transport them has helped me procrastinate. Other times I consider putting them at the end of the driveway with free signs on them. There are tons of kids in this neighborhood. I expect they’d disappear in a heartbeat. I just worry about the fact they haven’t been maintenanced in years and the one bike’s gears never did really work right. I’d hate to see a kid get hurt on one of these bikes if he takes it home but mom or dad don’t check it over and fix it up before it gets heavily used. So in the garage they hang!

  2. Hi Lori and thanks for an informative read!

    Unlike you and CJ, I actually enjoy grocery shopping and do it at least once or twice a week. What my problem is however is going without a list. This becomes especially bothersome when I have every intention of trying out a new recipe then realize I can’t remember the ingredients. I end up getting what I usually get, which is fine, but not the exciting culinary dish I had intended to make.

    I’ll try your ideas and let you know how it goes 🙂

    Take care and all the best.


    • Lori says:

      Hey Lyle! I have a feeling attitude is probably everything. If I change my attitude about shopping I might like it more…maybe… 😉

      I’m dangerous without a list. I end up buying stuff I already had and not the stuff I needed. And don’t let me go to the store when I’m hungry. If I do, I come home with all kinds of stuff I don’t normally buy.

      I can’t wait to hear how your experimentation goes. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. cj says:

    As always, Lori, you add value to the world with your post! I too am a grocery shopping hater. The list of unpleasantries is far too long for the scope of this comment. I like the online list your store offers. What I really need is for the store to have my order ready when I arrive all except the produce. I’ll select the fruit and veggies my self. Do you know if any store will go that far without having to pay for it? How nice would that be?? Have an easy one!!

    • Lori says:

      I think I could write a reply as long as my post. I was in such panic tonight, because I needed to go grocery shopping, but somehow I got logged out of my Wegman’s account. I can’t remember my password. :-O I hit the Forgot password? button and entered my email but never received the reset email. I tried calling and got a message saying they’re closed for the night. Nooooooooooooo! lol

      I had to shop the old fashioned way with a handwritten list. Fortunately, my list is stuff I’ve gotten enough times so I knew where to find them.

      But it’s funny you should ask about alternatives to going to the store at all or having someone deliver to you. I wrote this article several weeks ago, but today I rediscovered some alternatives. I knew about them, but had forgotten. When I realized this article was due to go live today I considered postponing it to add the new information. But I think the information will make a great post all by itself so I let this article post.

      I will say you missed a great experiment, though. Back in the late 90’s (or possibly the early 00’s), a group tried a lean-startup business for a website service to capture people’s grocery orders. They’d do the shopping and deliver the goods to you. I’m pretty sure they were operating in a big Texas city. Possibly Houston, but I’m not completely sure my memory is sound on that. I know my friend was living in Texas and using the service. She told me about it and I tried to find a similar service operating in PA without luck. At the time, I had no idea it wasn’t a full-blown business and just a bunch of guys testing to see if it was a viable idea before paying for full development of their service. I was envious she could get her groceries delivered to her though.

      As always, thanks for liking my stuff so much and stopping by to comment! You totally rock, CJ.


  1. […] In a previous article, I revealed tactics I use to minimize how long it takes me to complete my grocery shopping. […]