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Is there a right way to organize groceries on a conveyor belt? These people think so

It turns out social media users — and TODAY staffers — have pretty strong opinions about how food should be organized at checkout.
No one in the Twitter comments was willing to confess to embracing chaos and not organizing their groceries at all.
No one in the Twitter comments was willing to confess to embracing chaos and not organizing their groceries at all.Sergei Gnatiuk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

A heated debate is spreading across Twitter: What, exactly, is the best way to organize groceries on a conveyor belt?

The firestorm started when personal chef Charles Hunter III asked a simple question: "Do you organize your groceries on the conveyor belt or are you a monster?"

The thread, initially spotted by The Kitchn, quickly expanded, with dozens of users sharing their own methods.

"I am a proud cart, belt and bag organizer. And I will gladly give the evil eye to anyone behind me that’s impatient," wrote one user.

One woman said that she prefers to pack by temperature.

"I pre-organize in the cart — raw meat together, frozen things together to keep each other cold, etc. — and then load onto the conveyor belt accordingly," she wrote.

Another shopper said that the best method was by weight.

"I also put them on the belt in the order that the light, fragile things are first back into in the cart & so will be the last to load in the car. Doesn’t everyone?" she asked.

Some have more unique methods, with one man adding that he organizes in a way that makes it easy to check the items on his receipt.

However, no one in the comments was willing to confess to embracing chaos and not organizing their groceries at all.

Among the TODAY Digital team, there were plenty of strong opinions.

Senior editor Philip Caulfield said that he never thought about conveyor belt organization until he started shopping at Aldi, a grocery chain where cashiers are notoriously quick when bagging groceries.

"I never thought about it until I started shopping at Aldi. Now, I definitely try to arrange my items on the belt in a way that will make them easier to bag," he said.

TODAY Food editor Emi Boscamp said that her method was "all over the place" but works for her shopping.

"Weight/fragility trumps everything but I also try to keep things organized by placement in the kitchen: fridge/pantry/freezer," she said. "And then of course the last thing to go in is the thing I bought to eat/drink on the way out of the store."

My own method is a little complicated. While things on the conveyor belt should be loaded based on weight and temperature, things go in bags based on when they'll be used: Things for dinner go in one bag, ingredients for lunchtime meal preps go in another, and so on, with the exception of raw meats and fragile items like eggs.

Senior commerce editor Adrianna Brach joked that she's on "team organized."

"If you're not organizing your groceries on the conveyor belt, I don't trust you!" she said. "The perfect way to organize them is from smallest to largest and by storage location — fridge, freezer or pantry. What other way could there be?"

TODAY senior editor Bryanna Cappadona weighed in with some advice that she'd picked up during nearly a decade working as a cashier.

"In terms of belt organizing, you’ve got the obvious rule: Start with heavy (canned items, bigger jugs, whole watermelons, cases of water, etc.), end with light (eggs, bread)," she said. "But with bagging, I think when we get into this mindset of putting similar items together, you forget to distribute the weight and bags will break."

"Don’t keep cans all together, just put them with other dry things like underneath or between cereal boxes," she continued. "And speaking of dry vs. wet, this matters for fruits and veggies — your colder produce (broccoli, lettuce, peaches) shouldn’t be with your dry produce (bananas, pumpkins, potatoes). Also, types of meat (poultry vs. beef vs. fish etc) should be separate to prevent contamination."