The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

5 Ways to Check Out Faster at the Grocery Store: The Grocery Game Challenge #2 July 13-19, 2015



So many people have said they hate grocery shopping and arriving at the checkout is where most people experience the stress of waiting.

There’s nothing worse than having to run into the grocery store for one product and you end up having to wait forever because every check out is backed up.

Since the invention of the self-scanner more people opt to forgo the traditional cashier and check out their groceries by themselves.

In the past almost every grocery store had a grocery bag boy/girl at the checkout who would pack your groceries with his/her trained eye.

The bags would go into your shopping cart and away you would go. The worst you would have to do is load the groceries on the belt and pay for the bill. Easy Peasy!

Back in the 80’s (possibly before that too) my wife remembers some stores namely A&P who would have big red bins that would be numbered and all you had to do was pull up to the shop and a grocery clerk would take your number and pack your vehicle with your groceries.

Gone are those days and I’d be shocked to ever see them again however it would be a great way to score a nation of grocery shoppers who detest shopping and those who are unable to carry and pack their own groceries.

I was never a fan of waiting in line to check out so over the years since I’ve moved to Canada I have been able to speed up the check out process. While some people focus on their grocery shop I tend to focus on everyone else.

Being a personal finance blogger I am a people watcher so I watched what other people did while at the check out and devised my plan to get in and get out with ease. Time is money after all.

One of the first things I did to learn a bit more about the check out process was talk to various cashiers. There hasn’t been a time where a conversation about grocery shopping has come up. I love to chat to anyone at the grocery store if it means I’m learning something new to share with all of you.

These days instead of me taking about 10-15 minutes to check out I can get in and get out in 5 minutes while at the check out with these 5 tips I’m going to share with you today.

One tip I’m not going to take too much time talking about is watching the person in front of you. If you see they are done putting their groceries on the belt jump in and grab the order divider and get packing the belt with your food.

There’s nothing worse than the person ahead waiting for a huge gap before they start their check out process. I’d probably do a let’s get a move on dance behind someone if they were waiting.

I know I’m pressuring customers to speed it up but it’s true not everyone has all day to wait so be courteous of the people in line behind you with things you CAN control.

Remember this is to help you speed up your check out process only. If you want to speed up your shopping, shop with a list and don’t wander too far away from it. Stay away from talking to people you know because that can really set you back for time too.

One of the easiest ways to deflate a check out line is when a product doesn’t scan properly and the customer requests a price check to apply the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) or the cashier simply needs the proper price.

This is a common problem that the cashiers say customers complain about the most. There’s not too much the cashier can do but as a customer you can opt to leave the product if you don’t want to wait for that price check. Be advised you could miss out on SCOP if applicable.

Supermarkets will tend to open up more cashier lanes at particularly busy periods. This is to avoid customer frustration which can lead to negative advertising for the store. Tesco’s in the UK has a policy where if there is more than one person in front of you then they will open up another checkout.

I used to shop at Tesco’s on a regular basis and the policy was always a bit hit and miss.

Tesco’s even went one better to save you time and came out with:

Scan as you shop is a service that allows you to scan your shopping with a handheld scanner whilst you go around the store. You then simply pay for your shopping at the end of your shop.

On that note here are some of the processes I’ve come up with that the customer can control which will help them gain back their confidence in the grocery store and want to shop more.


5 Ways to Check Out Faster at the Grocery Store


These are just 5 of the fastest ways that we can make sure our grocery shop isn’t going to last longer than need be. Everyone has certain quirks about the grocery store but what’s important is to get organized so you can optimize your check out process.

Don’t worry about what other people think even if you do have a bit of OCD like I do when it comes to keeping the products together on the belt.

Remember every grocery check out process will be different for each grocery store because each store carries different rules and policies. Some may be the same but some may differ especially when it comes to the “Fast lanes” and “Self Check Out” so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get to know your local grocery store.


Use the Self Check out


The self check out was meant to get the customer to scan their grocery shop in order to eliminate the cashier process. If you know what you are doing, most times you don’t even have to talk to anyone which can slow you down.

Almost all self check out cash stands have a customer service cashier overlooking the process in case you get stuck.

The best thing about the self check out is that if you get lucky and don’t have to wait for a check out you can speed up the process depending on how fast you are at doing the job yourself.

Not all cashiers are as speedy as they could be but we also don’t know if there are any underlying reasons so it’s up to you to at this point. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t profile the cashiers before I get in line to check out because I do.


Organize your groceries on the check out belt


What I like to do now is make sure I am organized when I am putting my groceries on the check out belt. The worst thing you can do is just slop all your products on the belt.

YES, it is the cashiers job to scan your products and send them to the bagging section BUT if you want to speed up the grocery shopping process don’t be afraid to step in and help out a bit.

If we find products that are reduced I tend to group them together so I can track the cashiers screen to make sure all the prices scan correctly. I’ve done it where I have the products mixed about and it’s very easy to get distracted so grouping them helps to keep me focused.

Some people like to organize the fruits in one pile, meat in another, frozen food, breads then heavy products, dairy and so on. The problem with this is that once the product is scanned it gets sent in a pile down the belt so either way you have to fish for the products to bag them unless you are fortunate to have a packer present.

Some cashiers prefer the UPC code down other prefer them up so you can take a quick second to ask if you are able to get the cashiers attention.

Sometimes this might be hard if you have a customer in front of you but if you can get eye contact with the cashier it’s easier to open up and ask that question than wait until you already have all your groceries on the belt.

The cashier may appreciate your organizational skills too. They hate waiting around just as much as you do however they are getting paid not you, so don’t waste your precious time.


Ask cashier about coupons and price matching


If you have products to price match by all means try to group them together so you aren’t constantly pulling out grocery flyers or having to show your smartphone flyer apps.

Your cashier will also appreciate this as will the customers behind you who have to sit through the price matching process which for some can take a bit of time.

If you have paper coupons always ask your cashier how they would like that handled. If you have your coupons ready to hand to the cashier as she scans your products this may help BUT it’s always nice to ask because you don’t want to slow down a process either.


Get your cash or credit card ready


You should already have your re-usable bags ready to go or you have to pay to buy some from the cashier but that’s not what holds up the line.

What holds up the line is when a man is riffling through his wallet or the woman is digging to the bottom of her purse and emptying it out on the belt looking for credit cards, debit cards, rewards cards or even that $20 they stashed ‘somewhere’ in their purse.

Always be prepared that way you won’t have to fish around wasting your valuable time. I’ve also seen customers at the cash who are NOT prepared only to find out they forgot their money or cards at home so they can’t pay for their order.

You don’t want to be that person.

Be prepared!


Shop during low shopping times


What time do you grocery shop at?

This is very important if you want to bypass all the traffic at the grocery store check out.

The worst times to shop are on weekends and mid-afternoon and after 3pm in the afternoon. The lineups when you go to check out are so long you want to pull your hair out.

We find the best time of day to shop is early in the morning or later at night. Some people who work midnight shifts will go right after work which is great because they are wide awake and the stores aren’t so busy.

Well, that’s all I’ve come up with although I’m sure I could pick out some smaller details but not everyone has time to nit-pick the small stuff like stay off your cell phone and focus on the task at hand and so on.

What other processes can you think of which will help you check out at the grocery store faster?


July Grocery Game Challenge posts


If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you.

Join in the Grocery Game Challenge fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each blog post… here are the GGC rules!


Grocery Saving Tips


Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

2014 Free Money Saving ToolsFree Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the savings process in your grocery budget today.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.

NEW!! You can now download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!


Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide


the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbbEverything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly.

If you are new here and haven’t had a chance to read past posts grab yourself a beverage, sit down, relax and enjoy some educational reading material on ways to save money in your grocery budget.

If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email.


2015 Grocery shop results


If you are a foodie like I am you will enjoy going through my Free Recipe Index where recipes from CBB Home Chef Nicola Don and myself are shared every Sunday on the blog. Check it out!

Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $235 per year or $25 per month.

 Food Basics

  • Frank’s Red Hot Sauce $6.99 (ouch)
  • 2 x Broccoli $0.88 each $1.76
  • 2 x Lactancia Cream cheese $1.99 each $3.98
  • 4 x Astro Coconut Yogurt $1.77 each $7.08
  • Bananas $1.61
  • 2 x Petite Butter Cookies $0.88 each $1.76 (upcoming peanut butter bars recipe)
  • 1 x cantaloupe $1.97
  • 2x garlic $0.88 each $1.76
  • Fresh ginger $0.81
  • Pitted Dates $3.99
  • Strawberries 2/$5
  • Homo Milk $2.99
  • 2% Milk $3.97

Total out-of-pocket: $43.67

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $206.91
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $7.94
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $20.00
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 99718
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Snap Groupon to date: $1.50
  • Zweet to date: $6.50
  • Cart Smart to date: $0
  • Checkout51 to date: $4.50

GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)

  • Total to spend this month $235-$28.76 (over June) $206.24
  • Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0 (Mar)+$16.94+$25.00 (April)+$25.00+ May $25.00+ June $25.00+July $
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $0
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $29.50
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $543.38
  • Total spent this week: $43.67
  • Total spent so far this month: $139.08
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: $7.89 under
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month:$68.01
  • Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $231.02 + April $258.44+May $218.12+ June $235.67+July $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

The Frank’s Red Hot sauce was regular price but it’s not often I find it on sale when we need to stock it. This is not one product we stockpile by any means so sometimes we get stuck paying the higher price.

Other than that it was fruits, veg and milk. I will be making a peanut butter chocolate bar this month and some date squares. Only a couple of shops left but we have the stockpile budget too if we need it. Let’s do this!!


Canadian Coupons Found This Week


Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!

I didn’t find any new coupons this week as we didn’t go to Zehrs. It’s getting harder and harder to find coupons anywhere but RCSS, Zehrs or Loblaws stores. Agree?


Frequently Asked Questions


  • Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it all together. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: Yes No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year so we can plan accordingly for our budget. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.
  • Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest  Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading out but mobile coupon apps are the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households have gotten involved with their new mobile app joining forces with the many apps that are already out there.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.

You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.

This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.

If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2015 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.

Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general.

If you are brave and want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!

You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2015!

Join in and become money savers and take control of your grocery budget.


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