Organized grocery lists will be your best tool for saving time and money at the store. To avoid buying more stuff than you need and spending more time than you want, start with your list!
Make a list to remember what you need
I know, it sounds rather obvious. I also know from experience that making grocery lists is a bit of a pain. One of the reasons the hubby and I dread the grocery store every week is taking the time to put together our list. It is not unusual for one of us to say, "Can't we just go and see what happens?!" The thing is, having a list is your number one defense against forgetting what you actually came for. And really, what's worse than using up more gas and precious time than running back to the store to grab the oh-so-important forgotten grocery item?!
For grocery list-making in our house, one of the tools we employ is a dry erase board on the refrigerator. As we run out of things we know we'll need more of, or if we think of something we're going to want, it goes on the board. This was also a great system when there were still kids at home. Since they were only here part time, it was an easy way for them to make sure we got what they wanted if they weren't around when we went to the store. The list on the board is not in any particular order. When you think of it, you add it.
If a dry erase board isn't your thing, you could use a magnetic notepad or just keep paper in a convenient spot in the kitchen for writing down your needs as they come up. Technology is taking this method a step further these days with refrigerators with a built-in display to make your list on and sync it with your phone!
Use your list to save money (and calories!)
"Is that on the list?" is one of the most frustrating questions I ask my husband, who tends to be the bigger impulse-buyer in our relationship. But another big benefit of making a list is sticking to it once you get to the store. There's actually a psychology behind grocery store layouts and enticing you to buy more than you need.
By focusing on the items that you've got on your list, you can show those retailers that YOU'RE the boss of what you eat. So there!! That's not to say you can't ever grab something tasty that you didn't know you "needed" until you got there. It just helps you to be mindful of what you spend money on and the calories you consume if you regularly ask yourself "is it on the list?"
Creating organized grocery lists to save time
Do you enjoy weaving through slow-poke shoppers to get back to the other side of the store for the different ingredients for Monday night's dinner? I may or may not have changed the menu for the week on account of not wanting to backtrack for the one item I forgot to pick up. This is where sorting your list can be a life saver.
When it's time to go to the store, we transfer our list from the dry erase board on the fridge to a legal pad to take with us. This allows us me to group like items for maximum efficiency at the store. I also find it helpful to have it written down this way so I can see the whole list at a glance.
The easiest way to have organized grocery lists is to be aware of the layout of the grocery store and make your list accordingly. Generally you'll find the following sections at the store:
- Boxed & canned goods and ingredients
- Frozen foods
The aisles may be in different orders from place to place, but for the most part the groupings are the same. If you think about the layout of the store when making organized grocery lists, you will be able to layout your list in similar groupings.
You want to make me a map?!
You don't necessarily need to have your list in the same order that you walk through the store in, although it won't hurt if that's your thing. If you always shop in the same store, you'll probably get used to the layout and easily make your organized grocery list accordingly. If you utilize several different grocery stores, though, just group your list in the general categories that the stores use.
Resources organized grocery lists
If you don't want to have to think about how to organize your list, there are tools out there to take some of the thinking out of it. Consider these options:
- https://www.plantoeat.com/ - add recipes, drag them into a planner, automatically create grouped grocery lists for printing or sharing to your phone
- Grocery list templates and printables - Pinterest has a plethora of choices for predefined grocery lists and templates for writing in your items
- Our Groceries app - available on Android and iOS, this app lets you add your own categories, input recipes to quickly add items to the shopping list, and multiple shopping lists for different stores. You can even scan barcodes and take photos if you want to add a specific brand!
Have grocery list tricks you like to use, or an app you've had success with? Tell us about it in the comments!