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Speed Shopping: When You Have 10 Minutes at the Grocery Store

By Elizabeth Shimer Bowers
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

For busy moms and professionals, life is all about making every minute count. After all, time saved doing mundane chores equals more time to read to your kids, chat with a good friend, or take a long, hot bath.

But when it comes to some household duties, like grocery shopping, quality is as crucial as speed. You want to leave the supermarket with as many items checked off of your grocery list as possible without sacrificing healthy eating or your nerves.

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How can you make healthy decisions when you only have 10 minutes to do your food shopping? Here are some tips to help strike the perfect balance between nutritious and quick.

Make a grocery list comprising one week of meals. 

This will save time in your daily schedule and prevent you from making multiple trips to the supermarket, says Tricia Bland, RD, spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise. After compiling your list, take inventory of your refrigerator, freezer, cupboards, and pantry to make sure you buy only what you need.

Set your grocery list in stone. 

Marcia Costello, PhD, RD, LD, professor at Villanova University’s College of Nursing recommends using a pre-printed grocery list and including all of the staples, dairy, meat, and produce you would normally buy. “Keep printed copies of this document handy at home or the office and just circle what you need,” she says. To make the actual trip quicker, arrange the grocery list by order of the aisles in the supermarket so you will not have to circle back for any forgotten items, Costello says.

Live on the edge.

Of the supermarket, that is. To maximize healthy eating, focus on the perimeter of the store; that’s where you will find fresh produce, low-fat dairy products, and fish and lean meats, says Costello. Plus, you will be able to navigate the outside aisles faster than the smaller inside ones.

Hit the produce aisle first to ensure healthy eating. 

You should fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, so start by filling half of your grocery cart with them as well. Go for deeply colored produce, such as spinach, carrots, and berries. These tone-rich fruits and veggies are higher in vitamins and minerals. Also go for fiber-rich produce, such as beans, peas, bananas, strawberries, apples, and oranges.

Make shopping a mini-workout. 

Try to park at the farthest end of the supermarket parking lot and walk quickly to the entrance, Bland says. If you only have a few items to purchase, forgo the cart and use a basket for food shopping for a mini upper body boost. If the basket is too small for what you need, push the cart at a brisk pace.

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