Grocery shopping with reusable bags used to look like this for me: I'd grab a wad of totes, hop in the car, shop, and load them up during checkout. It sounds like it would all be seamless enough, but it wasn't. I almost always ended up one bag short, flustered at the register as I tried to load up each tote, or dealing with runaway groceries while I put the bags in the car. (Sometimes, all three would happen!)
So I was totally down for trying something different, and when I got a Lotus Trolley Bag, I couldn't wait to take it for a test drive!
Buy: Lotus Trolley Bag, $35 for set of four bags
Launched last year by Jen and Farzan Dehmoubed, a California couple, these bags are an update on the typical reusable bag.
First of all, all four bags come bundled together. They each have Velcro along the top so they stick together, and then, once you fold them neatly, they roll up and a strap holds them in place. An additional Velcro piece around the shoulder straps lets you hang the bundle from the handle of your grocery cart while you shop. Neat!
I like that the bags are tidier than my usual "wad of totes," and even though it takes a little more effort to fold them back up after a shopping trip, it's really worth it to not have a jumbled grocery bag mess.
Secondly, the bags are big, and have a few hidden features. There are just four sizes in the set, but each bag is wider and deeper than the ones already in my arsenal, so one set really is all you need — even for a big haul. (The fact that they are so large makes them especially good for stores like Costco, where the typical bag can only hold about two packages.) One of the bags in the set is insulated, which is ideal for cold items like meat and milk. The other three are mesh at the bottom and fabric at the top. And one of the bags has pockets sewn into the sides to keep items like wine and eggs in place instead of moving around.
The last feature is the most distinctive feature: Each bag has two rods that run across the top. These span the width of the average grocery cart, so that once you load all your items onto the conveyor belt at check, you can set the bundle in the cart and open them up, accordion-style (remember that they're all Velcro-ed together?). They fill the whole cart, even the extra-large carts shaped like cars and rocket ships. Then, as items get scanned, you can just "file" the goods right into the bags.
Pay and wheel your cart out to your car. The bags easily detach and you can even re-attach them once they're loaded in, so they can keep each other from falling over in the trunk.
There's only one major con that I've come across, and that's that you sound very dorky explaining the process to the cashier when she inevitably asks you about it. (Especially when you're low on dignity from pushing a rocket ship-shaped cart around the store.) But once we get over the hump, my cashiers are generally into it and genuinely seem impressed.
I'm 100 percent convinced that this Trolley system is better than my old system. These bags make checkout a million times easier, they can hold all of my groceries (even if I've skipped a week), and they're easy to load into the car. Sorry, old tote bags, you are officially never coming to the grocery store again. (Don't worry, you can still come to the library and CVS!)
What do you think — would you spend $35 if it meant you'd have an easier time bagging your groceries?