Part Two of a three-part series.

FruitGrocery runs can be wonderful adventures – filled with new discoveries, soulful colors, and a variety of delights. Depending on your schedule, you may wish to browse or you may need to dash through the aisles in record time. And that’s the beauty of organized grocery runs. They provide the structure that’s needed to accomplish the errand at hand while allowing for spontaneity if you feel so inclined. After all, a little advance planning goes a long way. Following are a few tips for organized grocery runs that should help you get in and out if need-be, or enjoy spontaneously discovering new delectables as any good browser will do.

1. Plan your meals on a weekly basis so they can inform your grocery list. This ensures that you have the necessary ingredients on-hand when you arrive home from work after a long day. Sure, you can substitute ingredients if inspiration should strike while you’re in the produce aisle, and you can swap meals around during the week, but planning the meals will give you a framework for what should be purchased and when it will be prepared. Plus, it’ll save you from packing a lunchable for your brown bag meeting tomorrow.

2. An organized list will make your grocery expedition super easy. There are a few ways to organize a list. I prefer to organize mine by store lay-out. Others may wish to organize their lists by category (i.e. produce, meat, frozen goods, dairy). Doing this helps ensure that you purchase everything that’s needed.

3. Be a good scout and come prepared. Bring along reusable grocery bags, a stash of coupons, your shopping list, and a pen that clips onto the list for ease. You may also wish to bring a wrist watch and your  cell phone (handy if you want to use the calculator function). Strive to always bring your sense of humor and good demeanor.

4. Take full advantage of what the store offers. Many chain stores have a customer service counter that sells rolls of quarters, postage stamps, and more sans service fee. Save yourself a trip to the post office while sharing a kind word with a grocery store customer service associate.

5. Check out the weekly circulars for chain stores in your area to capitalize on deals. Bonus points if you read the online version instead of signing up for the paper one. These circulars are also available at the entrance to each store for your quick perusal.

By organizing your grocery run in advance, you’ll stock up on the items you need and you’ll be more aware of impulse purchases. Doing this supports you in making choices that are right for you and your family. A little time spent up front with organizing your grocery run will yield free time that can be spent on the hiking trail, in an art class, at the beach, or anywhere else that strikes your fancy.

* Photo by Lisa Lippincott