It’s really nice when store clerks bag your groceries for you, but often this isn’t an option. Efficient grocery bagging is a skill that comes with practice but it begins with basic knowledge and practical sensibility. Especially when we’re used to going shopping in stores that bag groceries for us, then we travel either to a country where this isn’t a social convention, or simply another store where everyone is expected to bag their own purchases, it’s important to know the best way to get everything packaged up so nothing breaks on the way home.
1. Heavy stuff first
Put heavy stuff in the bottom of the bag so it won’t crush other things. Cans of soup and large bottles of juice or cartons of milk are good to bag first. These things also help stabilize the bag for smaller stuff as you’re adding items. If you’re bagging something that’s heavy but fragile and you don’t want anything else on top of it, consider just putting it in a bag by itself.
2. Square stuff in corners
By taking advantage of shape-matching like putting square objects in corners and fitting in other objects around them like a real life game of Tetris, you’re maximizing space use and reducing the number of total bags you’ll need. That’s great for the environment and it helps keep bags upright for easy packing.
3. Keep glass separate
It’s not just the annoying clinking of glass bottles against one another that’s an annoyance. Glass smacking against other glass on the trip home means fragile objects are more likely to break. Reduce the chances of damage by putting soft, paper or plastic items between glass bottles or jars. If that’s not possible, in the case of a six-pack of glass bottles, put something soft on top of it to help stabilize it from too much movement.
4. Start early
There’s no need to wait until after the cashier has totaled your groceries before you start bagging things up. If there’s someone annoyingly pushy behind you, let them come forward as you move down the lien to bag your groceries. If they take your place, you can always return to stand in front of the cashier with a pleasant “excuse me” while they get out of the way.
By bagging groceries before the cashier is finished, you’ll be mostly done bagging by the time everything’s paid for. It can reduce the time you spend with the cashier by half.
5. Plan ahead
Consider how you’ll bag your groceries as you’re putting your items on the counter or conveyor belt. The cashier will ring up items in the order of arrival so put things that you want at the bottom of bags down first on the conveyor belt. Objects like fresh mushrooms or eggs go last, since they can easily be damaged.