If I were to make a list of my favorite things to do, grocery shopping would not be anywhere near the top. In fact, it would be way down the list, somewhere below trimming my toenails and scooping kitty litter. If I go at the wrong time, it can be crowded and very time-consuming. As a professional truck driver that spends a couple of weeks at a time on the road, I have the added inconvenience of finding a grocery store that can accommodate my vehicle.  

Once in the store, I have to figure out where everything is, make my selections, then get it to my truck, and load it all in the limited space I have in my tractor. On top of all that, I have to hope no one has blocked me in, so I can continue on my way. 

With all of that in mind, here are some things I've found to make this chore a little easier, and a little healthier.

Make Sure You Can Shop There

Not all grocery stores are created equal. Some have nice, big, wide-open parking lots and others have crowded, tree-filled, less truck friendly lots. Knowing that before you get there, can save time and frustration. I like to use Google Maps for an overview of the parking lot. A quick call to the manager can also answer that question. My GPS helps me find stores that are along my route and it also provides phone numbers.    

Make a List

Sit down and write out a list, and if you are like me, stick to it. I'm easily distracted by sweets. Veggies? Not so much. So I plan on staying away from the bakery, cookie aisle, and ice cream freezers. I don't write any of those items down. I only list the things I really need, and then I stick to it. This keeps me from picking up that package of cookies. If I don't have them, I can't eat them.

The list also prevents me from buying too much.  Limited space means bulk options, while a good deal, don't make much sense. I like Miracle Whip, but a gallon jug of it would take up too much space. The smaller bottle, while not as economical, saves on space. Space I can use for something else.

Don't Shop Hungry

As professional truck drivers, our eating schedule can vary, so this can be a little tough. However, shopping hungry usually ends up with me buying things that I thought I needed, but in reality, not only did I not need it, sometimes I don't even really like it. Maybe I am just weak, but it also usually ends up with me buying more than I planned on or need. *A list helps with this, but a hungry stomach can make some pretty good arguments for why your list is silly. 

Try Late Night or Early Morning Hours

I understand irregular routes, schedules, and H.O.S. regulations don't always allow for this, but when possible, this can save you time and aggravation. It also makes it a little easier to figure out where everything is when there aren't people everywhere. The parking lot is less crowded too, so navigating it is easier. Be courteous and return the cart to a cart rack, if you use one.

I hope these tips help. I'm not reinventing grocery shopping here, but I've found that these simple tricks make the experience a little easier. Speaking of which, I need to do some shopping myself. Right after I trim my toenails.

What tips do you have? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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