The Best Tips for Stress-Free Grocery Shopping During the Holidays, According to Store Managers

published Nov 14, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: CC Buckley

No matter how much fun you find grocery shopping to be, it can feel a bit frenetic during the holidays. Shoppers are stressed. Check-out lines are long. Desired food items are out of stock. And the pressure to have a well-executed menu filled with holiday deliciousness is, well, overwhelming. That’s why we called on the experts, the people who know their way up and down grocery aisles the best: store managers.

They shared their most insider-y tips to help us all have the most successful (and, dare we even say, enjoyable!) shopping trips possible this holiday season. Some of the tips even extend beyond the holidays. Here’s what they had to suggest.

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1. Shop early in the week.

We’ve all heard it before: “Don’t wait until the last day!” But what about, “Don’t wait until the last day of the week?” Tom Becnel, the store manager at Schnucks in St. Louis, Missouri, recommends you get your shopping done early in the week — from Monday to Wednesday — during the holiday weeks to ensure your desired products are available. 

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2. And space your trips out.

A team of Whole Foods managers suggest shopping for all of your dry goods two to three weeks in advance and then getting your perishables closer to the holiday. You can also shop at off-peak hours (think: early mornings or after the evening rush) to help with potential lines in the store, too.

3. Check weekly or monthly flyers, then check them again.

If the supermarket puts out a weekly or monthly flyer with specials, sales, and new items, check it regularly. According to Joe Carlos, manager at LifeThyme, “You could be the one of the first shoppers to take advantage of a good deal that will pay dividends during the holidays and maybe — just maybe — allow you to stay home while everyone is fighting it out at the supermarket during the busiest time of the year.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Plan your menu in advance and check all your ingredients.

If you haven’t planned your menu yet, now would be the time to get on it. And then check to your pantry to see what you have and what you need. Make a shopping list ASAP and get the non-perishables now (see Tip #2!). Don’t forget to include your spices in this check! As Jon Towsend, store manager of Schnucks in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, reminds us all, “As spices age, they lose their potency.” He recommends you invest in fresh spices during your next shop. “It’ll bring out the best flavor in your dish.”

5. Ask for help.

The Whole Foods managers point out that they’re there to help people. (Just like all grocery store staffers!) They can help you find items and answer questions, like what aisle the coconut cream is located in or when they’re expecting another shipment of stuffing mix. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!

Do you have a special tip for shopping during the holidays? Tell us in the comments below!