Know when to go to save time, money, and your sanity.

By Laura Fisher
November 25, 2019
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I am one of those people who absolutely love going to the grocery store. Growing up, my dad and I had a father-daughter Sunday ritual of hitting up our local market together. We would each take a cart and go our separate ways, meeting up at the registers 30 minutes later eager to share our finds. It might sound strange, but those Sundays at the grocery store were one of the highlights of my childhood.

My sentimental musings aside, all this is to say that I’ve spent a lot of time in grocery stores throughout my life. Over time, I’ve picked up some tips on when the best time is to hit the market, depending on what you’re looking for. Read on to learn how to maximize your market experience, even if you don’t share my passion for weekly food shopping.

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To Beat the Crowds

During the week, most people go grocery shopping when they get off work, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The best bet is to get to the market early, as soon as it opens, or late, right before it closes. You’ll zip through the aisles and through checkout with practically no one to slow you down, and get a good parking spot as well. If you want to avoid throngs of people, also stay away from the store on the weekends when people go to stock up for the week, or a few hours before a major sporting event (e.g. the Super Bowl).

To Get the Best Quality

Get to the store early—you’ll catch the dairy, meat and seafood sections right after they’ve been restocked, meaning you get first pick of the goods. Show up late and things tend to be picked over, leaving you with less-than-desirable options.

To Get the Best Deals

This depends on when your local grocery store releases its weekly ads. Do a little research and go to the store that same day. You’ll have your choice of all the new sale items before they’re snatched up by other shoppers. Many stores start deals on Wednesdays, making Wednesday morning typically a great time to get a bargain.

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To Get the Freshest Produce

Talk to the store manager about when they get their produce delivered. That way, you can time your shopping to coincide with the freshest arrivals, ensuring your fruit and veg spend less time on the shelf before you eat or cook them.

To Beat the Holiday Rush

Most people think that the day before a holiday is going to be a mad rush at the store, so oftentimes it's two days before the holiday that the stores are slammed. Aim for three days ahead to avoid major lines and crowded aisles. For example, do your Thanksgiving shopping on Monday of that week, or even earlier if you’re able to store the perishables properly at home.

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