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Having a shopping list is important for a trip to the grocery store. 

According to the website Foodimentary, February is “National Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket” month.

Laugh now, but you will be thankful when you have a flurry of carts to choose from, especially when they are lined up in the cart corral and not rolling down the parking lot with the wind. Grocery shopping can sometimes be an unpleasant experience, often one that creates moans and procrastination. Here are a few tips to make the task go smoother and faster.

Organize your grocery list. We all know we need to make a grocery list, but it will save you time to also organize it by food category. Put all the fresh produce together, all the frozen food together, dairy, meats, and so on. This helps you avoid the annoying realization that you forgot something six aisles back. And while we’re at it, don’t walk into the grocery store without knowing what meals you plan to fix for the week. If you want to save the fruit and veggie picks for the store to see what’s on sale and what’s available, that’s great, but have the main entrée planned.

Organize your coupons prior to landing foot in the store. If you use paper coupons, take out only the ones you think you will use, and put them in your pocket or an easily accessible side pocket of your purse or wallet. If you use electronic coupons, download them ahead of time and have your phone ready to pull them up when you need to refer to them or submit them to the cashier.

Shop by yourself. For parents of young children, grocery shopping alone is like your spa day. It’s your time to not have to think about giving in to the cries of “I want this,” but rather you are mentally fit to enjoy shopping and make your own decisions.

Shop with your partner. OK, so you don’t have to shop by yourself. Just don’t shop with anyone younger than, say, 8. Split the grocery shopping and list into two: One of you starts at the front of the store, the other at the back, and you meet in the middle. This works perfectly if using a grocery list app that is synced to each partner’s phone. It cuts the shopping time in half! (But be prepared to be OK with your partners wavering from the list; how did these donuts get in our pantry?).

Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be terrible. Make it fun and make it speedy!

Smith, a registered dietitian, is a nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.