How To Grocery Shop Smarter

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If you know me personally or follow me on Instagram, you know that I cook for myself pretty frequently. Mostly on Sundays when I meal prep for the week. I find myself grocery shopping multiple times a week and I use to enjoy grocery shopping but since moving to New York City, the pleasure of walking up and down my favorite aisles has faded a bit.

Why you ask? Well, in a city with a population of over 8 million people, buying food sometimes feels like an athletic competition. In NYC I’ve experienced longer lines and checkout wait times. I’m talking long LONG… like wrapped around the store long.

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Live footage of the checkout line at the Whole Foods Union Square Location Pure Chaos!

Often times NYC grocery stores are smaller than the one’s I am used to from back home in Baltimore, so sometimes there is a shortage of inventory (especially in certain neighborhoods, but that’s for another blog post though! #foodequality). Over the years I have discovered a few NYC grocery shopping hacks that are sure to help you shop smarter no matter where you live but especially if you live in a busy city. On a quest to free all of us from the grocery shopping woes, here are 5 Tips On How To Grocery Shop Smarter In NYC

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Many consumers tend to shop in the evening (after work) or on weekends . are midday on weekends and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays when most people are getting off of work. Shopping in a big city during these peak times can extend your shopping time and your lack of patience!

Shop Early. The early bird gets the worm and the eary shopper gets in an out of the store faster. Try getting to the grocery store shortly after it opens. This will increase your chances of getting access to the best inventory and to avoid those who are sleeping in late. Monday and Tuesday are good days to shop and to avoid the busy weekend crowd.

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Having a grocery list when you go shopping is not a new tip but I feel that it is one that needs reinforcing. Preparing a list before you get to the store helps you to stay focused on only the items you need which will help you to get in and out faster without wasting time. I use my iPhone Notes app to keep my list but you can also keep it old school and use paper and pen. You can create your list based on the meals you plan on making that week and also by refreshing pantry basics. Below is a sample of a regular list that I use.

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I suggest keeping a running list and adding to it before your trip or online shopping session. Shoplist or Anylist are great free grocery list apps

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Not having a car is a disadvantage when grocery shopping in NYC because you can only carry but so many bags on your person. Bringing a portable shopping cart or buddy is a helpful way to stock up on groceries and transport them home. If you don’t have a utility cart, I highly suggest that you bring a backpack which makes carrying heavier items more barable. The Large blue Ikea FRAKTA Shopping Bags also serve as great grocery transportation options because they are deep and can fit alot and the straps are perfect for throwing over your shoulder.

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There are several delivery services such as Instacart and PeaPod that will deliver your groceries right to your doorstep. Ordering your groceries from the comfort of your home helps you avoid the crowds and grocery story stress all together. I have used grocery delivery before and it is convenient however there are some cons. 1) You cannot hand select your own produce 2) Its slightly more expensive due to delivery fees and minimum order limitation 3) it’s a less experiential experience. There is something euphoric and cathardic about walking the aisles in the flesh! Also, check in with the managers of your local grocery store to see if they offer home delivery services

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Back in Baltimore we called getting an unofficial paid ride from a stranger a “Hack” but with the ever present and rising popularity of ride sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Via you can call a ride home from the grocery store within seconds. Catching a ride home gives you the opportunity to buy more groceries at one time so that you make less frequent weekly trips to the grocery store. This is really important in a big city because if you are like me, you do not own a car, catching a ride home really alleviates alot of stress from the grocery store trip

Lonnie Woods III