wikiHow to Bag Groceries

Whether you’ve just started a job as a grocery store bagger, or are a shopper faced with the task of bagging your own groceries, knowing how to properly bag groceries can come in handy. If you want to avoid squashed bread, broken eggs, and broken glass, follow these easy steps and tips.


  1. Image titled Bag Groceries Step 1
    Pick a bag. Paper or cloth bags are great for most things, but plastic bags prevents spills from ending up all over your car, or you. If you have meats or other items that may leak, consider placing them in one of the plastic bags provided in the produce or meat sections.
    • In some counties in the United States, grocery stores have been made to charge for bags. If you have not brought your own bag, this can mean $0.10 per bag in addition to the cost of groceries.
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    Group similar items together. By separating your bags into four groups--general pantry items, meats, frozen/refrigerated foods, and produce--you lower the chances for cross-contamination or damage.
    • Frozen items, such as ice cream and frozen veggies, should be grouped together with other perishables, such as dairy, to retain a cooler temperature. Grouping these items also makes it easier to unpack everything that should be put into the refrigerator or freezer immediately.
    • Separate uncooked and ready-to-eat meats to avoid the risk of salmonella poisoning or contamination. Place raw meats in separate plastic bags, as they have the tendency to leak.
    • Pack fruits, vegetables and other ready-to-eat items together and away from raw foods--especially meats--in order to prevent cross-contamination.[1]
    • Pack eggs separate from any foods you plan on eating raw, in case they crack.
    • Cleaning products and chemical items should be packed separately from any food items, so as to protect against contamination.
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    Pack heavy things first. Generally heavier, larger items should be packed first to create stability in the bag and so that they don't crush any smaller items beneath them.
    • Taller boxes, such as cereal boxes should go around the edges a bag to create a stable wall.
    • Cans and other squat, heavy items should go in the bottom middle of the bag.
    • Medium sized staples, such as boxes of oatmeal or bags of rice, should go in the middle on top of the cans.
    • Delicate items, like bread or eggs, lay on top of the medium sized staples.
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    Be careful bagging glass. Packing glass items next to each other can cause cause them to clank and break. Place your glass in the middle of cans at the bottom of the bag. The cans will support the glass, minimizing the chance for breakage.
    • If you have paper sleeves available to you, you may wrap the glass and set them next to each other. The paper will act as a buffer protecting against breaks.[2]
  5. Image titled Bag Groceries Step 5
    Don't overpack your bags. Make sure your bags don't exceed 15 pounds. Distribute the heavy items among several bags, to prevent the bags from breaking.
    • For canned goods, limit the number of cans to about 6 to 8 per bag, depending on the can size. For items in glass jars, limit the number to about 4.
    • Know how much weight can be carried, and plan accordingly.
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    Double-bag, when necessary. Double-bagging either plastic or paper bags reinforces the bag and enables you to pack your bags with more and heavier items.
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    Consider what can be left unpacked. Rolls of toilet paper, big sacks of dog food, or boxes of soda may not fit in bags. Most larger items can be carried out on their own, or with the addition of a quick and handy adhesive handle.
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    Be courteous. When you have finished packing a customer's bag, thank them for their business and ask if they require any assistance to their car.
    • When you get to the car, observe the same packing rules you did for bagging: heavier bags on the bottom or around the sides, bags containing more delicate items on top, or supported in the middle.
    • Use caution when placing items in back seats next to child safety seats. Make sure nothing will tip over on to the child.


  • In general, keep the foods that you are going to cook in one type of bag, and the foods that you are not going to cook in another bag.
  • Be sure to get perishable items (like dairy) into the refrigerator as soon as possible. Bacteria can reach dangerous levels in just two hours at room temperature. Consider using a cooler with ice packs if you must leave groceries in cars for over an hour.
  • Reusable thermal bags can keep foods hot or cold for up to a couple of hours. Be sure these bags are free from holes and tears.
  • Keep reusable bags clean. Wipe them out and periodically toss them in the washing machine to keep them germ-free.

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Categories: Food Selection and Storage