How to Pack a Grocery Bag

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Packing a grocery bag the right way can save you time and money. Nothing is worse than coming home from a trip to the grocery store to discover that a loaf of bread has been ruined or a carton of eggs smashed after getting toss around inside of a grocery bag. Today, in an effort to cut costs many stores are having their customers bag their own groceries. This may be a little daunting to shoppers who are not used to packing their own items. Learn how to pack your own grocery bag in a few easy steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper and plastic grocery bags
  • Unloading your cart. The first step in packing a grocery bag is to unload your cart onto the conveyor belt at the checkout line in such a way as to prevent the groceries from becoming damaged before they even reach the bag. This also serves to speed up the bagging process itself. Place household cleaners, laundry soap, and personal care items such as shampoo and soap first. Next, place heavy items such as gallon containers of milk or juice, bags of potatoes and bags of dry pet food. This serves to keep food items from getting crushed at the end of the belt and you won't have to separate these items later. Next, place groceries such as canned goods and boxes. Fruits and vegetables come next followed by fragile items such as eggs and bread. Try not to lay items on top of the items already on the belt since this can lead to a log jam at the register where the belt narrows.

  • Before you begin to bag groceries, place the heaviest items such as over-sized bags of dry pet food underneath the cart. Also place heavy items such as bags of potatoes and milk jugs either underneath the cart or on the bottom of the cart, near the back, to prevent them from rolling back into lighter items as you push the cart. Some people prefer to bag their milk for ease of carrying; make sure to double-bag heavy bottles like this in plastic bags.

  • Picking the type of grocery bag. Many stores now offer customers a choice between paper or plastic bags. During a normal shopping trip, a combination of both works best.

  • Pack household cleaners and personal care items first. You never want to mix items containing chemicals in with foodstuffs; the chemicals may leak and contaminate the food. Plastic bags work best for these items, the plastic bags keeps food items save in case the liquid cleansers leak. Double-bag large bottles of liquids and all glass bottles. Make sure not to overload to keep the grocery bags from breaking, evenly distribute heavy and lightweight items in many bags.

  • Pack frozen and meat items next. Place frozen items in plastic bags as the condensation from them will wet paper bags and lead to breakage. It’s a good idea to combine meat items with frozen items in order to keep them fresh and prevent spoilage. If a package of meat is leaking, wrap it in its own plastic grocery bag before putting it in with the rest of the items.

  • Pack canned goods and boxes. Paper grocery bags work best for these items. Open the bag and place large narrow boxes such as cereal boxes or boxes of mashed potatoes along the inside walls of the grocery bag. Next, place canned goods or small bottles in the middle of the bag. Place lighter items on top. Its not recommend to place bread on the top of the bags with canned goods as the cans may crush the bread if the bag tips over in the car. Fruits and vegetables can also go in these bags, but its best to bag fragile fruit such as peaches, plums and cherries in their own separate plastic bag.

  • Pack your fragile items. Paper bags work best for fragile items such as bread and bakery goods. Pack bakery goods that are in plastic boxes first. Always pack bread last and place it on top of other items. If you have more than one loaf of bread, consider packing them in their own bag.

  • Pack eggs last in plastic bags in prevent breakage. Place the grocery bag holding the eggs on top of the other bags in the cart or in the child seat of the cart.

Tips & Warnings

  • In an effort to save a tree and reduce landfill waste; save your grocery bags in the trunk of your car so you can reuse them. Saving them in the trunk ensures that you won’t forget the bags, even on impromptu trips to the store.
  • For those hot summer days, keep a small insulated cooler in the trunk of your car and keep an ice pack chilling in your freezer. On the way out of the door to go shopping, grab the ice pack and toss it into the cooler. After grocery shopping, place your frozen items, dairy products, and meats into the cooler to make sure they stay cool on the ride home.
  • Overloading grocery bags, especially plastic bags, can cause them to burst (usually as you're taking your bags out of the car at home). To prevent this, evenly distribute items throughout your bags and double-bag canned goods and other heavy items.

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