Trader Joe'S Reusable Bag

How to Load a Reusable Grocery Bag as Told by an Ex-Grocery Store Employee

I think that everyone subconsciously knows that they should be using reusable bags, but using them doesn’t come without its snags.  If you don’t load them properly, reusable bags can break, hurt your shoulder while you’re carrying them, or result in your produce getting smushed.  With the current pandemic, many stores are requiring that people bag their own items to reduce the spread of germs, and inevitably we’re going to see a rise in reusable bag-related incidents.  Luckily, I worked in grocery for three and a half years, so I’m here to tell you how to actually load your reusable bags so that you can save the planet, your shoulder, and your apples.

Step 1: use boxes and heavy cans to create a wall

Not all reusable bags are created equal, and when I was a cashier my chief complaint about them was that some of them were really floppy and wouldn’t stay open.  So if you are the owner of one such floppy canvas bag, it’s important that you put bigger items on the perimeter not only to distribute the weight but to anchor the bag down so that it doesn’t fall or close upon you.  Be sure to load that can of soup or family-sized box of cheez-its first.

Step 2: fill the middle with frozen food and more heavy-duty produce

Some fruits and vegetables will bruise if you look at them the wrong way, but some (such as squashes) can definitely bear a little weight.  So put those heavy-duty vegetables on the bottom of the bag nestled in the middle of your box-and-can wall, and then pile bags of frozen food on top.  Frozen food is light, but it can definitely withstand some lighter items being piled on top of it in the next step

Step 3: delicate items go on top

I’m defining “delicate” items as anything that can get easily crushed, including the aforementioned produce that bruises because you look at it the wrong way, bags of chips, and eggs.  These go on the very top of the bag because if you dare put anything on top of them you’re going to crush them, and nobody wants that. 

In essence, the key to properly loading a reusable bag is equally distributing the weight.  This can also mean bringing and using multiple bags for large orders or forgoing a bag for heavy items such as gallons of milk.  Using a reusable bag can seem counterintuitive knowing that accidents could totally happen, but it isn’t hard to learn how to load it so that shopping goes off without a hitch.