Simple steps trim time from your commissary trip

Simple steps trim time from your commissary trip

by Kathy Milley
Defense Commissary Agency

FORT LEE, Va. – Grocery shopping can be a time-consuming task to squeeze into an already busy schedule. But going in armed with a game plan and an understanding of how to efficiently navigate your commissary will make your experience quicker, easier and much more enjoyable. And it might save you a little money, too.

“Often taking some time to explore your commissary can be beneficial – to see what new products are on the shelves or taking time to talk to department managers,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka N. O’Neal, DeCA’s senior enlisted advisor to the agency director. “But other times you really need to get in and get out quickly. Using these tips will help you efficiently whiz around the store and get all your weekly shopping done in no time at all.”

1. Create a master plan

The most effective way to cut time from your shopping trip is to plan. Choose what meals you plan to make during the week and jot down needed ingredients. Then check your pantry, refrigerator and cabinets, crossing out the items you already have on hand. Sort the remaining items on a shopping list by category. When you get to the store, you’ll know exactly what to buy and where everything is located. Use this helpful Weekly Meal Plan Worksheet to make it even easier.

As you are shopping, you might see an item that sparks an idea for an additional dinner that may need several ingredients. Once the inspiration hits, place the item in the child’s seat of the cart as a reminder that you need to pick up the other ingredients or, if you have a pen, jot them down on your list under the appropriate department.

2. Look up Sales and Recipes Ahead of Time

Before going to the commissary, look at the sales flyer on commissaries.com to find savings on the items on your list. If a specific brand is on sale, make sure to jot that down beside the item on your shopping list. It will save you time in the store if you know exactly what brand is on sale. Commissaries.com also offers many recipes that will help with your weekly meal plan

3. Organize Coupons Before you Get There

Before your commissary trip, visit the Savings Center on commissaries.com to find resources with lots of printable coupons. Download digital coupons right to your Commissary Rewards Card. Print coupons for the items on your list. You may also find industry coupons displayed near the items you purchase.

4. Avoid Shopping at Peak Hours

Choosing off-peak hours is a great way to avoid crowds and long lines at the commissary.  If unsure of the peak hours for your store, ask your store director. Be sure to check your store website for any COVID-19 operational updates.

5. Don’t Shop Hungry

This is a fundamental rule to help you save money when grocery shopping, but it is just as effective when trying to save time. Hunger can be a distraction when you are trying to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible.

6. Consider CLICK2GO

CLICK2GO, the online shopping and curbside pickup service, available at select locations is an easy way to save time. Shop from the comfort of your own home and schedule a pick up time. The commissary staff will do all your shopping and have it ready to load in your car when you drive up to the pick-up location. Just pay and go. Remember to bring your coupons and rewards card. Currently CLICK2GO is available at Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Naval Air Station Oceana and Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, and McGuire Air Force Base at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; more locations are coming on line in the near future. Keep checking your store website page on commissaries.com.

7. Have a Backup Plan for Essential Items

Know your essential items or brands when you do your shopping and have a backup plan in your mind. On the off chance that a product is not available, having a backup prepared will not derail your quick shopping trip.

8. Talk to your commissary department managers

During a shopping trip when time is not a factor, talk to the commissary department managers. They have a wealth of information that can help you decide the best times to plan a quick shopping trip. Ask them about their delivery days, when certain products will be at their freshest or anticipated mark down times.

9. Use science to choose your checkout line

Choosing a line with one person with a loaded cart may actually be faster than a line with several people with fewer items. Little’s Law, the science behind selecting a queue, takes into account the idle time and interaction between each customer and adds that time to the length of each interaction. With all those “between customer” time additions, it may be quicker to choose the line with the fuller cart.

“We are busier than ever, and our free time has never been more valuable,” said O’Neal. “With these simple tips and the downloadable Weekly Meal Plan Worksheet, you can make your next grocery shopping experience the most time-efficient one yet.”

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