Recently, we did a post about how you can apply Lean thinking towards something as mundane as a Thanksgiving dinner. The response was overwhelmingly positive, however a reader mentioned that we left out an important process: the grocery shopping!
According to a recent American Time Use study, the average American household spends 42 minutes grocery shopping every week. That may not seem like much each week, but add that up and you are spending 36 hours grocery shopping every year! Let’s put on our Lean thinking caps and see what we can do.
1. Make a List.
Do you have a list or are you just grabbing what looks good? Just as a manufacturer only purchases the materials needed for the next project, you should look to only buy the materials necessary for the next set of meals you are going to make. From a Lean perspective, you do not want to build up Inventory, one of the 7 Deadly Wastes. By planning your meals and making a list, you can reduce this potential waste.
2. Does it Flow?
One way to reduce time spent shopping is the concept of flow. How do you flow through the grocery store? Are you running back and forth from one section to another trying to find what you are looking for? Try arranging your list so that it is in the same order as you walk through the store. That way, you can grab all the vegetables when you are in the vegetable section before moving on to the canned goods.
3. Question the Sale.
Grocery stores use sales to reduce inventory that has built up. Why should you let them transfer their waste to you? Focus on what you really need.
4. Deliver your meal Just-in-Time.
Meals are one of the clearest examples of Just-in-Time. You want to ensure the freshest materials when making your dinner. If you reduce the amount of time spent shopping, you might find yourself able to make more frequent trips, so you can acquire the materials for your meals.
What are some other ways you can Lean your grocery shopping? Put your thoughts in the comments below and check out some of our courses on Just-in-Time and Flow by clicking here.