Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How To Bag Groceries

Although I have never worked in a grocery store, I am pretty certain that these stores have no program for training their employees to bag groceries. And if they do, it isn't working. I cannot count the number of times I have arrived home with ruined groceries, or the times I have had to rebag items at the store to avoid impending disasters.
When all the children were home, there were eleven people in our household and I would spend an average of eight hours a month in the grocery store shopping for them. I spent another two hours a month driving to and from the store, and about three or four hours each month putting away the groceries I bought. Usually I shopped twice a month, and I filled two carts to over flowing each time. So, I think it is fair to say I have invested a good deal of time, as well as money, in grocery shopping.

{My dream is for a world where every loaf of bread would arrive home unsquished and no one would ever find a package of butter in a bag of clothing three days after it was purchased. In order to facilitate that dream, I am offering this guide to bagging groceries without charge to stores world wide. Please feel free to print copies and distribute them to your employees.}


Don't Mash The Merchandise!

Obviously common sense dictates that bread should be placed on top of the other groceries in the cart. However, there are other ways to mangle this delicate item that aren't quite as obvious. First, and most annoying, is when the loaves are placed into the bag horizontally so that they close up like an accordion when the weight of the bag causes the sides to pull in. Similarly, placing too many loaves into the same bag can cause this mashing when the bag is picked up. Heavier types of bread, such as bagels, should never be put in the same bag as lighter ones. The same rule applies to tomatoes and other heavy items which may be prone to squishing. Put them on top of the other items, but don't put them on top of the bread. You're bagging groceries, not building a sandwich.

Eggs, though slightly sturdier and better packaged, should also be treated with care. Although you technically can fit three or four boxes in the same bag, you must remember that the customer is going to have to pick that bag up and carry it. If it is too full, it will either break or it will just be extremely hard to maneuver. Trust me, it is not a timesaver to have your eggs scrambled ahead of time.

Other squishy items that you might want to protect: chips, taco shells, bananas, avacados, and other soft fruits.


Keep Similar Items Together

Let's face it, bagging groceries is an art. However, there's more to this art than just creating an aesthetically pleasing arrangment of cans and boxes. Though it may be tempting to add a splash of orange to that bag of white T-shirts, a block of cheese will look much better a week from now if it is in your customers refrigerator and not sitting on their bedroom floor. And while it might be a good idea to group "bathroom items" together, you may need to break things down a little further. Toothpaste should NEVER share a bag with toilet bowl cleaner. Frozen foods will travel better and stay frozen longer if they are placed together. Lettuce, on the other hand, does not belong anywhere near ice cream. Not even if you're pregnant.


Raw Foods Are Not All Equal

There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the benefits of a raw foods diet. However, I'm sure that most of us would still agree that eating raw meat is a bad idea. Along those same lines, packing raw meat in a bag with groceries which are intended to be eaten raw is also a bad idea. This would include foods such as cheese, luchmeat (yes, I know they're both meat. that isn't the point.), and snack foods, as well as pretty much anything from the produce section. Raw meat should only be bagged with other raw meat. Just remember that meat can be heavy. Don't put too much in one bag, and double bag if you have any doubts.


Too Much and Too Little

Moderation in all things, especially when it comes to bagging groceries. While conserving resources may save time and money in the short run, you might end up with a lawsuit on your hands when those twenty pounds of canned goods you packed in that one tissue thin bag end up on your customer's foot. On the other side of the spectrum, there really isn't much point in bagging every *s* i* n* g* l* e* item in its own bag, now is there? Remember, once your customer leaves your register, they will have to move those groceries two more times before they are done- once from the cart to their car and again from their car to the house. Over bagging and under bagging both make this process harder than it needs to be.


Other Tips

The most important thing to remember about bagging groceries is to pay attention to the cues of your customer. If they just throw everything on the conveyor belt hap-hazardly, you are probably safe bagging that way. But if they have taken the time to place the groceries on the belt in a meticulously organized fashion, know that this is a test and you will be graded. Happy bagging to you!


What's Your Grocery Shopping Grumble?
Share your story about your worst supermarket experience.


2 comments:

  1. So I'm not the only one who attempts to get everything in the helpful storage places from store to car to home. I usually try to bring cloth bags for the transport, but always get into the store intending to buy one thing and not bring a bag, but buy enough to fill a bag afterward. This is a serious part of the homemaker/wife/mom job. Thanks.

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  2. This is why my favorite store is one that lets me bag my own groceries in my own bags. It's the only safe way! :)

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