I have many reusable grocery bags at home but I always forget to take them with me when I go shopping. Then I have to spend 10 cents to get another bag. Over time that money adds up. Is there something I can do that will help me remember to bring my bags with me?

Thank you.


Answers are welcome that make the bags available when I need them, at the grocery store.

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    I don't agree that this requires a "mind hack". Although the OP is asking for ways to help remember, it seems obvious to me that they would be served by a lifehack that just accepts they will forget the bags and they then need to deal with doing their shopping without the bags.
    – Lefty
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 15:19
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    put a big stack of the used bags in your car so you can't leave home to go shopping without them. Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 19:28
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    It's when you unload the bags that you need to remember to put them back in the car. At the moment, one of two things happens: a) you leave them lying around, in which case you will see them and be reminded to put them in the car, b) you put them away somewhere, in which case put them in the car instead. Another benefit is if you make an unplanned stop at the shops, you'll have bags with you anyway. Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 7:54
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    @Chenmtunka Why is this request for a "trick" on hold when another similar request for a "trick" to prevent absent mindedness is okay? This is inconsistent. lifehacks.stackexchange.com/questions/22570/… Kindly review your decision here and either reopen this or close the other.
    – Stan
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 2:03
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    @nielsnielsen This question has been reopened. You should post your comment as an answer. Personally, I keep grocery bags in my car ... and if I find myself in the grocery store without them, I run out to the car to retrieve them before checking out. Feel free to add that to your answer. Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 15:23

10 Answers 10


Instead of shopping bags, let me introduce you to my replacement solution: The Bin

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Sterilite-14467406-Gallon-Aquarium-Latches/dp/B00KL7VIH6?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_1

  1. Unlike with shopping bags, you can carry all of your groceries in one trip! I just throw everything into the bin and then carry it inside the house. This also saves time in the parking lot, because you can just carry the bin instead of wheeling a cart out and putting it away afterward.
  2. No more wasting bags. With the bin you just throw all your groceries into the bin and heave-ho!
  3. No more forgetting bags. The bin is large and visible in the back of your car, so you won't forget it. Eventually, shopping without a giant bin in your cart will feel strange, so you will remember to go back to the car and get it.
  4. Easy to clean. Unlike reusable bags, the bin is easy to rinse out with a hose.
  5. Admiration of strangers. No one expects you to show up with a bin. The baggers in the Supermarket will be astonished as they find themselves without purpose as you casually laugh and toss all of your groceries into one single bin.

Personally, I use an 18 gallon bin that I keep in the car at all times. This is the perfect size to just fit in the cart and is easy to carry as well. Now that I started using it, I've never needed bags again!

Edit: If the bin is too big or too heavy for you, there are products made for this that will do the job better. Search for: folding shopping cart

  1. Unlike the bin, the cart rolls so you don't have to carry it.
  2. It's also foldable so it takes up less space in the car which is nice.
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    There are some foldable boxes that don't occupy much space, and fulfill the same purpose. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 8:31
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    Indeed; a quick google for folding plastic shopping trolley should produce results of a wheeled item with extending handle and large plastic basket that folds down smaller than a briefcase. Handy stuff
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 21:04
  • @CaiusJard Good point. That trolley would make more sense for most people. Especially, if the bin is too heavy with all your groceries in it. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 21:48
  • @virolino You didn't read the end of my post did you? I addressed this. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 6:42
  • @SurpriseDog: Actually, I did. I still think that it is not a very good idea, long-term. Replacing cheap, small bags (sometimes even biodegradable) with bulky plastic boxes (foldable or not)? Compare the size and weight of a box, even folded, with the size and weight of a folded bag. What will you do with the box when it breaks? Landfill, right?
    – virolino
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 6:46

I had the same problem, a ton of reusable bags at home and none with me at the store when I needed. So I got one of those foldable bags that come inside a tiny pocket of sorts (whose purpose is just to keep it folded). The bag when folded reduces to about the size of a cigarette pack more or less, but unfolded is big enough for an impromptu shopping. And then I keep it in my handbag at all times. Once I unpack the groceries I immediately fold it back to its pocket and place it in my bag (or I WILL forget it next time I need it).


Just put a big stack of the used bags in your car so you can't leave home to go shopping without them. If you forget to bring one into the store with you, run back to the car and grab one, as suggested by BrettFromLA.


I had the same problem. Always forgetting the bags, at home or in the car. Reading your question and the answers here a week ago, gave me an idea that works for me. Joy mentioned bags that's wrapped in their own pocket. That's exactly the kind of bags I have.

I connected the bag to my car keys. With no keys, I won't get anywhere. So now I don't forget the shopping bag either.

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  • Hi OldBat, Welcome to Lifehacks. Please allow me to give you a warning to keep your car keys on the lightest key ring you can to avoid damage to the ignition switch that might be part of the steering shaft lock. Although the system has been improved, this is still problematic with some makes and models. Naturally, this does not apply to keyless ignition switches
    – Stan
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 16:06
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    Thanks, @Stan. If I understand you correctly, you're concerned about the weight of the bag? If that's the case, the whole shopping bag weighs less than my two keys, 47 grams.
    – OldBat
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 16:40

An alternative that will remove the problem, if the service is available in your country, would be to consider leveraging a home delivery service. In some countries supermarkets offer ordering online, product picking and home delivery costs a fraction of the true world cost of you taking hours out of your life to sit in traffic/wander the store looking for items. Bonus that you can choose delivery times, the products come in a plastic crate you just empty out and return to the driver (saving on plastic bags, doesn't kill any whales) and one warm engine in a delivery truck making several stops on a circuitous route is kinder to the environment than several individual vehicles making there-and-back trips to the store.

Complaints of such services usually center on the lack of control over what you get as substitute products if the main ones aren't in, poor condition or short dating;

Generally substitute items are a good deal because you can get some kind of upgrade on the quantity or quality for the same price, or you might end up with a flavor you haven't tried but might like. Rejecting an item means you aren't charged and if it's part of a multi buy deal you shouldn't have to pay an increased price for the other items even though the deal no longer applies. Smarter supermarkets should remember previous substitute rejections and not make the same sub again.

Poor quality or short dated items can usually be resolved with a quick call to customer services; typically it's a "refund-and-keep-the-product" scenario and some supermarkets may guarantee that they they won't give you anything with less than 2 days to expiry


Technology could help solve this one. If you always go shopping on the same day/time set a reminder on your cellphone to get some bags out. Equally if, at some point during the day, you remember that the shop is the next place you will go when you leave your current location, and your phone supports location based reminders then a quick "Hey siri, when I leave home remind me to take a shopping bag" might help

I've long thought that shops should simply offer a buy back on clean reusable bags; getting 8 cents back per bag would probably encourage you to remember every now and then and take them in for a refund. Perhaps you could be the start of something if you successfully lobby your local store to offer buyback; it has worked for other kinds of recyclable item before!


I always carry a rucksack with me, wherever I go. So if I need to remember to get something with me occasionally, I put it either in the rucksack directly, or on top of it. Since the rucksack also holds the keys, I cannot forget the rucksack.

For a while I even carried a strong big reusable bag in the rucksack (all the time), especially when I had to live without a car.

Usually I keep those bags in the trunk of the car. When I go shopping, after parking, I pick up the bags. The count of bags depends on the estimated amount of things to buy (I have only two bags, I usually do not need more).

If I forget to take them from the trunk, or I assume that I will only buy a small thing, and end up buying a full cart, then I go with the cart at the trunk and transfer the products to the bags there.

How do I remember to get the bags back to the trunk after emptying them at home, after shopping? I fold them and put them with the rucksack. Whenever I go out the first time, the bags will end-up in the trunk again.


When we get home and unload our bag(s), I'll hang them on the front door and the next time I go to the car, I'll take them with me and leave them up front (in the car) so I don't forget to take them in with me.


If I forget my bags in the car, which I seem to do a lot, I just ask the bagger to place it back in my cart without bagging it. Just make sure you have a your receipt in hand just in case someone thinks you're up to no good. I also love the ideal to have two large laundry baskets in the back of the car and filling them up to carry in the house; super nice for a big family like mine.


Leave the bags in the car, put them there when you are done unpacking. And if you can not afford 10 cents, then simply do not spend 10 cents. Use regular grocery bags when you forget becayse if 10 cents is too expensive then that means that your personal survival is far more important then the extremely minimalistic impact that one individual can make on the aesthetics of the planet. Cloth bags are not more enviornmental then other bags anyway, in fact paper bags would be the most enviornmental bag possible in current use since paper disintegrates by itself and trees to make them with come frok tree farms. Plastic bags can be given to the organization that knits then into sleeping mats instead of placed in garbage cans, lawns, or the "recycling" bin which is even more enviornmentally destructive then regular plastic and paper recycling bins. ....That is, if you use the regular plastic bags instead of buying more of the 10 cent ones, which can not be knitted.

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