The 10 Commandments of Grocery Shopping

Given the fact that the employees at my local grocery store see me more than my own family does, it’s safe to say that I have quite a bit of experience pushing a full cart around.

While I generally enjoy the experience because a) I love finding and checking things off of a list and b) food, there are a few simple things that would make it better for all those involved.


Thou shall not leave your cart in an empty parking spot.

As I’ve said before, there are two kinds of people in this world: 1) those who return carts to the cart corral and 2) a-holes. Leaving a cart to find it’s own way home often results in the cart camping out in a parking spot someone will inevitably pull halfway into before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them. The carts have a home. Help them find their home.

Thou shall not walk down the center aisle of the parking lot

You do not have super-human pedestrian powers that override people in their cars trying to get past or around you. Pick a side—any side—and no one gets hurt.

Thou shall travel up and down the aisle like a civilized person

Up one side, down the other. If you’re barreling down the middle or the wrong side like a linebacker and clip my cart, I am not above throwing a shoulder. Also, try to refrain from doing a 180 halfway down a jam-packed aisle only to amble along as if you’re taking in the sights of the Louvre. It’s soup. Not the Sistine Chapel.

Thou shall obey the express line rules

The sign says 15 items or less. It does not say, “Everything you can stick in the small-ass cart you chose instead of regular cart.” That does not refer to the number of item types, but the actual item count. For example, those 75 cans of soup that took you 15 minutes to pick out does not count as a single item. You are not a special snowflake. If everybody ignored this rule, it would just be a regular line.

Thou shalt not decide against the frozen pizza you picked up in the frozen foods section and then place it on the shelf next to the shampoo

Really? Come on now, people.

Thou shall respect the invisible checkout line bubble of personal space

Regardless of how close you creep up or how many items you throw on the belt, you will be next—after me. If you continue to creep up, I will pretend to go through my coupon keeper for an extraordinary amount of time and chit chat with the cashier…unless you would like to pay for my produce. In that case, you have a deal.

Thou shall treat the cashier with respect

This means not chatting on your phone while she’s ringing up your groceries or getting ticked when she won’t accept the four expired coupons you thought she’d ignore. If you get caught trying to sneak in an expired coupon, just let it go. It’s 35-cents off of dish soap. You’ll survive.

Thou shall not stop at the exit to go over your receipt

Once given your receipt and all 300 extra pieces of paper that get pumped out of the printer with it, do not stop and read the receipt like it’s a treasure map. There is nothing on that paper that is that important that you need to throw on the brakes and cause a backup. Move it along.

Thou shall reconsider the self-checkout

Know your limits. Can you find a bar code on a product? Match the picture of bananas on the screen to the bananas in your cart? Flatten paper money to insert into a slot? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, don’t be a hero. Go through the normal checkout.

Thou shall not stalk for a parking spot

Finally, do not slowly drive behind me at 5 mph impatiently waiting for my parking spot that is often only two down from another available spot. Unless you’re going to get out and help me unload my groceries into the back, your insistence on sitting there, impatiently revving the engine on your minivan, will force me to do a full vehicle check—interior and exterior—before getting back in and leaving 5 minutes later.

Thank you for shopping with us.

Have a nice day.

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86 responses to “The 10 Commandments of Grocery Shopping

  1. I have totally done the thing where someone is being super aggressive about my parking spot, so I get in my car and have a phone conversation for at least 5 minutes. Stay back a normal distance and I’ll get in and drive away as quickly as I can. Lurk and I’m going to make molasses look speedy like a cheetah.

  2. I Adore this! I have been known to do the slow drive next to a pedestrian with bags in the hope of stealing her space looking like a weirdo stalker. Then she gets in puts her bags in and walks off leaving me furious.

    Will think of this next time!

    Soph x

  3. OMG! You read my mind. I can’t stand it when I”m on the right side of an aisle and another person is on the left, then some nut comes along parking his cart in the middle blocking movement. Who die and made them king of can goods, then reaching over my shoulder to get want they want. Is it that important they can’t wait until I’m done picking. Is the zombie apocalypse starting, that they can’t wait. oooooooooo Don’t get me started on the nuts who inch they way up your backside when you trying to use you ATM card. If looks could kill at that point, you would be stepping over piles of dead bodies inline. I’m have not even move my food bags into my cart and they are standing on top of me. Sometimes a good fart is needed then.

  4. LOL! That was funny! Thou shall not stop suddenly in front of me to call someone on your cell phone. Thou shall not block the entire aisle while you debate which product to buy, as if you were on a game show. This is not the Price is Right folks, nor is it a life or death decision.

  5. Thank you,
    This is GREAT. I have been working on Farmer’s Market etiquette post. You make me smile n nod 🙂

  6. This was awesome! I can only imagine you throwing an elbow at someone for cutting you off or taking too long with the soups.

    I’ve also never thought about the creeper and how no matter what, that person is next in line. It’s true and I might just tell that to the next person who does it.

    I also despise the million things they print out with the receipt. Does anyone look at those?

  7. These need to be posted and ACCEPTED before being allowed to get a cart if any kind

  8. Thou shalt not leave your unwanted coupon atop the can of beans you decided against. You are not the coupon fairy.

  9. Love this – so funny. I know all of these people, and definitely guilty of doing my best to wind these people up!

  10. You nailed it once again! These should be posted in every grocery store! 👍😉

  11. So funny! Sometimes the grocery store is the most annoying place in the world!!!! One quick note for Food Allergy Awareness, though, because someone needs to say it. Sometimes it *is* a matter of life and death…I’m that person who has to stop and read every ingredient list on every item I put into my cart. As a mom of a child who suffers anaphylactic (as in they could kill him) reactions to several foods that you likely eat at every meal, I have to be quite a bit choosier about what goes in my cart. It’s an “invisible” issue, and plenty of people get all rude when I can’t just “pick something and throw it in the cart”. Trust me, I wish shopping was that simple for my house. I’m sorry this got long-winded, but I’m passionate about being a voice of awareness. May your family never experience what mine has…and remember thatgiving people the benefit of the doubt couldn’t hurt…you don’t know their story!

    • Hold on! Don’t misunderstand me! I have no issues with stopping to read the ingredients list, as although I’m not in your position, I am a vegan who is very careful about what kind of products I buy. (It’s not the same, but I understand where you’re coming from. Plus, I have good friends with a toddler son with a peanut allergy.) I’m sure you are very considerate when shopping and not barreling down the aisle only to halt in front of the crackers, elbow your way in and proceed to block other shoppers from continuing on 😉

      Given my own issues, I always give people the benefit of the doubt…until they leave ice cream next to the cat food. At that point, all bets are off.

      • No misunderstanding! 🙂 I think I’ve actually grumbled most, if not all, of these comments at one point out another (or, you know, every.single.time.)!!!! Plus, I mostly shop late at night because that’s what is convenient for me and I have entire aisles to myself…and less irritating shoppers blocking the aisle with their carts! I spend so much time advocating and educating about food allergies that sometimes I can’t control myself! 🙂 BTW, you’re welcome to come chow down at our house, between the food allergies and vegan extended family and friends, I make lots of vegan-friendly meals and dishes…and you can rest assured I won’t accidentally cook your dumplings in chicken broth that I stood in the middle of the aisle to buy, lol!

  12. sorry, ut cant help it.i break all your rules

  13. The ones who abuse express line irritate me the most. Of course, they always insist on arguing once they get to the cashier because they “waited in line so long” only to be told they don’t belong there. And, of course, the cashier can’t just send these jerks to the back of another line even the whole thing was obviously premeditated.

  14. Can we add “Thou shalt not stop your cart smack dab in the center of the aisle, so as to prevent others from getting around you”?

  15. “You are not a special snowflake.” I am stealing this one! Great post!

  16. Amen to all of this. I swear, the people at the grocery store see me so often I should have invited them for Thanksgiving dinner.

  17. I think you covered them all – in your usual hilarious way.

  18. Just bang on target 😀😀 loved reading it. Good wishes !

  19. Just impossible to pick out my favorite commandment based either on humor or human justice. Can barely get it down to 5, although I keep coming back to “shall reconsider the self-checkout.” Only addition (is expanding number commandments allowed?) would be “Thou shall not wait to begin searching for credit card or cash after all your groceries have been rung up.”

  20. Perfect! Why do people insist on leaving their cart right in the middle of the aisle? How hard is it to pull over? Drives me crazy. Print these up, laminate, and nail them to the door of every supermarket across the land.

  21. Great stuff, Abby. The over-the-limit for express line is my particular beef. Also, there are some times when a shopper wants to pay by check! Ugh. It takes forever, especially when they can’t find the check and have to take everything out of the handbag, and then come to find out, the checkbook was left at home! Then, the problems multiply. She doesn’t have enough cash, and her credit card expired, and then the cashier asks if she has a debit card? No. Well, then everything has to be put aside so she can go home and get her checkbook! 😦

  22. I TRY not to get angry–I really do. But so very many people break your commandments. It’s hard out there, Abby. So hard…

  23. One shopping peeve of mine — isn’t there a commandment to deal with the shopper who will leave their cart in the middle of the aisle, stand alongside the cart, not leaving enough room for another cart to pass by, and then stand there price checking or content comparing while someone tries to get by and then snarls when her cart is clipped by someone just … trying … to … get … by!!! Just pull the darn cart to the side, pleeez!!!

  24. Bwahaha!~ Love this: ” Match the picture of bananas on the screen to the bananas in your cart? Flatten paper money to insert into a slot?”

  25. Hi, Abby! I shared your post on Facebook and it got a lot of comments. I have no patience for people who creep up on me in the checkout line. I will step on their feet if I must. And I’ve said to someone’s face “You have to move back if you want me out of here” because she creeped up so far I couldn’t reach the payment machine. God, I hate people

    • Thank you for sharing! And yes, most people are tedious…

    • A couple of days ago I told a man that was standing right up my grill to back off if he wanted his turn to happen anytime this calendar day. He stepped smartly back. Lol

      So many people have zero sense of boundaries and personal space these days.

  26. Don’t be a hero. Go through the normal checkout. Ha, ha!

    This has me cracking up and also reminds me why I don’t got to big box grocery stores anymore. At my holier than though, altruistic, all natural local mom and pop shop, most of these issues don’t exist. There is no belt at the checkout. In fact, there’s no room for anything other than you and your stuff so personal space assaults don’t happen.

    You did forget one thing though and this does happen at my store so I guess it’s not the end all be all I just declared it: the perfectly capable people who sit there and watch their cashier ring up everything and then bag everything without lifting a finger. What is that?

  27. I am guilty for some stuff on your list. SORRY!!! One more: Thou shall not use a tube of icing to scratch your back. I’ve seen this happen (not done it).

  28. As a cashier and cart pusher, I say AMEN to all of these. Something I hate as a cart pusher is when there are a bunch of small carts behind a big cart and I’m trying to get the big cart. That’s just the tip of the iceberg really. When I’m cashiering and someone literally watches me put stuff on top of the carousel while I’m running out of room. Really? Have you ever heard of helping?
    If people are rude to me in my lane, I’m coolly polite. I won’t smile my nice smile, I won’t wish them a good day and I won’t go the extra mile for them. Be nice to me and I’ll be good to you.

  29. I think if everyone pushing a cart stays to their right, all would be well in the world….that includes entering and exiting any store 🙂

  30. ALL of these are awesome.

    I will add – and only because it was done to me – otherwise I would never have imagined anyone would do this:

    After you have unloaded your cart – push it THROUGH the checkout lane. Don’t just leave it there, blocking everyone else, because I *WILL* push it with my cart and “accidentally” smash it into your ass.

  31. You slay me. SLAY ME you brilliant babe. Sharing this STAT!

  32. LOVE! You slay me. SLAY ME! Sharing this STAT!

  33. The frozen pizza next to the shampoo is the worst. What kind of entitlement compels people to do that I will never know

  34. Or the people that just piss off & leave their trolley in one aisle whilst they are checking something out in another. Happens a lot here.

  35. Whoever wrote this hasn’t been to St Ives….. Thou shalt not take a fresh produce bag, empty the meat from its packaging into it and leave the bloodied meat tray on a random shelf.

  36. You forgot “thou shalt not leave your trolley/basket of stuff in line at the checkout, go and look for an item, then come back and expect your place to be kept by said trolley/basket”. A woman actually accused me of taking her spot the other day, (I had already unpacked my trolley) when there was just a lonely looking half-full basket sitting there in front of the magazine rack.

  37. You forgot a few….

    Thou shalt not stop in the dead centre of the aisle to muse over the kind of pasta you buy – pick a side.

    Thou shalt not stand directly in front of someone who has had the sense to move to the side to examine the shelves from the distance.

    Thou shalt not stop to have a conversation with someone else and block the isle or anywhere else.

    Thou shalt at least attempt to control your own children – a “please don’t darling” in a quiet voice does not cut it when your child is running around knocking stuff off shelves on purpose.

    Thou shalt shut the fridge and freezer doors if you open them you moron.

    And an extension on the phone issue – Seriously people? You do not need to do your entire shopping trip talking or texting and being oblivious to all others in the shop, thereby breaking many commandments.

  38. Ah, but sometimes there’s no trolley bay to return your trolley to – especially anywhere near where the buses pull up.

  39. Pingback: 10 things you should never do at the supermarket | Optus Zoo

  40. I agree with all your points except reading the docket once the cashier gives it to me. I like to check I’ve been charged correctly. Unfortunately I’ve been incorrectly charged too many times to not check. There’s no point checking when you’ve left the shop. It’s really annoying having to go back and ask for refunds.

  41. No way! I have to read the receipt! The store is always wrong and I have to make sure before I get to my car and decide I don’t want to go back for that $1.00 i worked so hard to save in the first place!

    • Let’s be clear, here. I ALWAYS read the receipt. I just pull my cart ahead and do it to the side and not hold up the whole line. 🙂

  42. The grocery store is not a place to catch up with friends. Don’t bring a friend along and dawdle down the narrow aisles chatting. That is my worst!

  43. Numbers One and Two – Totally agree with.

    SO many people walk right in the middle of the parking lot aisle and then give me a dirty when I don’t swerve out of my way to go around them.

  44. You made the news in Aust today 🙂 I was reading an article and it seemed strangely familiar, I quickly scrolled to the bottom and read ‘this article originated at Abby has Issues’ with links to this post. It was a confusing and then enlightening moment. You do get around for a home body!

    • Ha! They picked it up from Scary Mommy who picked it up from my blog, so by doing absolutely nothing special it got shared. Hopefully everyone gives me credit, but so far so good. Thanks for reading!

  45. The 10 commandments eh? go figure, But wait there’s more. What about the 11th one? ” If one wishes to buy 12 bottles of coke or the such, no need to physically un-pack the shelf, instead reach for the unopened carton nearby” Leave the individual packs for others wishing to buy just one.

  46. Also don’t forget the trolley guys who are pushing those heavy things. Don’t be rude to them. they are trying their best to get you trolleys but give them some space to get their work done.

  47. Here’s another that is truly my pet peeve when shopping. Thou shalt not drag the cart behind you in a meandering pattern while you walk down the center of the aisle looking at your phone. Seriously, dragging the cart behind you will get it kicked, much as dragging one’s suitcase behind them does during rush hour on Chicago’s sidewalks.

  48. Was behind a woman the other day who literally pulled out a deck of credit cards that was held by a rubber band and had to have the cashier run them one at a time until she found one with enough balance left to pay for her stuff. I almost screamed! 😀

  49. I was literally just about to go to the store (which means I’m going to the store at some point today but I’m currently screwing off on Facebook). I am a parking lot stalker – big time. But I’ve never, ever left a frozen item in the shampoo aisle. Thanks for the laugh!

  50. I have been upset by most of these at some point. There should be a law when you break a commandment – like being moved to the back of the line. I think you missed a big one — CONTROL YOUR KIDS

  51. #11 (though #1 on my list) Do NOT shop on one side of the aisle while your cart sits behind you on the other side. Contrary to how self-important or oblivious you are, you AREN’t the only person in the store. Have some consideration and keep your bum and your cart together.
    #12 pay attention to the lady or gent in the electric shopping cart. it does not have good steering and has no brakes, so I WILL run you over, unintentionally or otherwise.

  52. Patricia Woodard

    I agree with every word you wrote. Thanks, I am sure I am guilty of some of these things.

  53. D’oh! I’ve been known to piss off a parking space stalker by putting my groceries in the trunk and then going back into the store.

    Don’t everyone throw tomatoes at me all at once!!

  54. This should be posted in every supermarket in the world. I’ve actually ripped someone’s ass for not putting a cart in the cart caddy.

  55. Terrific post, really hate the rude jerks that can’t stop their phone conversations while checking out. Bad enough to have to listen to them in the aisles!

  56. I also hate the people who are playing on their phones in the produce aisle. I probably irritate others, though, because I’ll check my grocery list on my phone. I like to think I’m quick about it. Loved this line!: “It’s soup. Not the Sistine Chapel.” Congrats on your VOTY!

  57. Don’t forget “Thou shall return cart to its caddy and NOT next to/in front of your car”
    You spend all that time walking, what is another 10 feet to the caddy going to matter?! If I pull into a parking spot with a cart in it ONE MORE TIME I can not be responsible for my postal actions… just sayin’
    Abby, I love you! 👍🏻

  58. Yes! I would add-don’t give attitude to the Costco cashier because she’s not allowed to cash the cheque MC wrote to your spouse… and don’t insist on them allowing you to use a cc it’s very clear that they don’t allow!

  59. Hey Abby! This is great! I am a cashier in a grocery store. And I save all the useless papers that come out of the coupon machine and give them all to the customers that won’t get off their phones while checking out!!!!! I wrap them up in the reciept so they look like coupons!!

  60. Agreed! Love the idea of posting these at the cart corral! On second thought, maybe I’ll just print copies and place in violators’ carts! Maybe I’ll even pack my highlighter to draw attention to the particular violation! #SelfnominatedSupermarketPolice Haha!

  61. don’t forget the ones that leave their cart on one side of the aisle while they stand on the other side to peruse the merchandise, totally blocking the whole aisle.

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