We’re all familiar with grocery-bagging catastrophes: Bread defeated by a can of green beans, tomatoes that lost a battle to the edges of a cornflakes box.
Luckily, there are tricks to being a better bagger. It’s all about “thinking one step ahead,” says Andrew Borracchini, 18, winner of the National Grocers Association Best Bagger Championship and employee at Metropolitan Market in Seattle. Here are his suggestions for bagging.
Use both hands: “If you grab a box, grab a can,” Borracchini says. And look down the conveyor belt to see what’s coming instead of grabbing the first items you see.
Categorize: Separate groceries, Borracchini says. He bags in four groups: shelf-stable items, like boxes and cans; fruits and vegetables; refrigerated and frozen items; and meats. Borracchini warns that ice cream and meat can leak or condensate on the trip home, so improperly bagged groceries can result in soggy boxes and messy cleanups. Thus, when categorized, there’s less room for destruction. He also recommends wrapping each meat in its own plastic bag.
Build a foundation: Put heavier items on the bottom. Create a foundation in each bag by packing bigger items first so nothing will get crushed under them. Taller boxes should go around the edges, with cans in the middle. Lay smaller, durable items, such as granola bar boxes, flat in the middle. Save delicate items, like bread and eggs, for the top. Small stuff can be dropped in open spaces.
Be careful with glass: Place glass items in the middle of the bag surrounded by cans. Glass bottles and jars can go next to each other if there’s a buffer. If you’re bagging a couple of bottles of wine, wrap one in a paper sleeve.
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