How do you carry groceries without a car?

Since adding the ability to carry stuff, we see bikes differently. Biking is no longer only about getting from here to there, but about taking this and that with us on the way. We can carry about a week’s worth of groceries by bike between our two bikes. For overages, bungee cables secure excess bags to racks, which can typically hold about 30-50 lbs. There is nothing special about our bikes beyond fenders, a rear rack, and bags. I don't need a cargo bike -- though it will would cargo capacity significantly.

Packed into two bags
Two bags fit everything 
Into the double pannier 
Ride on home to cook

If we need an even larger run or we’re walking, we use what we call our granny cart. This foldable contraption has been with us longer than our kid. Empty, it weighs almost nothing yet can hold up to 150 lbs. We've even found a way to secure it to the grocery store buggy.

Unforeseen economic and health benefits

Shortly after we began shopping by bike, we noticed that we bought healthier items. We did so consistently. Because we had to factor the weight of something versus its nutritional value, its true opportunity cost became apparent.

Do I need a twelve-pack of sugar water in shiny cans? No. We did the math on each item we picked up. Was the weight of this item worth the effort to transport it back home? Over time, we stopped picking up junk food. Our purchases became intentional. Over time our family ate better because of our better decisions.

Not only were we exercising to and from the grocery stores, we started to eat healthier.

What about carrying bags on the handle bars?

No. Just no. This is dangerous. Please never do this. As you’re riding, bags sway and shift weight on the handlebars, limiting your ability to control your bike.

What if the weather is a little wet?

Many backpacks these days are sold with rolltop covers that generally keep water out. It's possible to buy a waterproof backpack or bag cover that has elastic to stretch and fit over almost any regular-size backpack and bag.

Waterproof panniers keep everything dry. Fenders stop water from splashing up. If I’m walking to the store, I’ll detach the pannier. It’s a waterproof bag. If closed properly  it keeps things just as dry while.

In winter?

In snowy, yet safe weather, my kid has enjoyed having ride on the snow sled down not-yet-cleared (or poorly cleared) sidewalks. I then pull the kid with the groceries back home. It’s tiring, but these are some of the happiest memories we share. If conditions are blizzard-like or in any other way unsafe, we will spring for a taxi or rideshare service. Because we’re saving so much from not owning a car, an occasional taxi is affordable.

In a buzzing, blustery blizzard

If I have no interest in going outside, I'll use one of the many grocery-delivery services. Just remember to tip the driver who will brave the weather!