5 Tips That Make Unpacking Groceries Faster and Easier

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Whether you love or loathe food shopping, the most annoying part for everyone is getting it all home and put away. But it doesn’t have to be terrible — at least not so terrible.

Here are our best tips for making the process easier and less time-consuming.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

1. Make space ahead of time.

While you’re scanning your kitchen to see what you have and what you need, make space for the new stuff to sit when you get back. This way you don’t have to start weeding out things that have gone bad or rearrange condiments while your new groceries sit and sweat on the counter. Also, clear off your kitchen table or counters so you have a place for the bags to go when you get home.

More on Organizing Your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry

2. Organize your cart.

Once you’re at the store and start throwing items into your cart, do it smartly. Organize items in the cart by where they go in the house: fridge stuff, freezer-bound things, pantry items, etc. This way, when you get to the checkout, you’re not hunting through the cart in order to prepare for the next step.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

3. Checkout with some order.

When you get to the checkout, place your grouped items onto the belt in an orderly fashion, so it gets bagged that way. Do this and you won’t have to worry about a pint of ice cream getting hidden under bags of bread and melting because you didn’t realize there was something cold in there. Freezer stuff goes with freezer stuff — no exceptions.

4. Unload items that need refrigeration first.

Bring the freezer and fridge stuff into your house first (in that order) so it gets back into chillier temps faster. Obviously, the less trips you have to make from your car to the kitchen, the less time the process will take you. If you only bought what you can carry (hello, city dweller!), it’ll all come into your home at the same time, but you should still stash the cold stuff before the rest. And because your bags are all packed logically, the rest should easily fall into place (not literally — do not drop the eggs!).

Unload one bag at a time and put things away as you take them out of the bag. There’s no need to take everything of the bag, set it on the counter, and then put it away. That creates extra work.

5. Stash the bags.

One bag down, 12 more to go! Hey, that’s progress! As you empty each bag (whether it’s paper, a reusable tote, or — eek! — plastic), flatten it and either put it away or move it out of the way. This way, the task looks less overwhelming and you have more room to move around.

Do you have any brilliant tips for making the unloading process go more smoothly?