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How to organize a grocery list for stress-free shopping

minute read

    Grocery shopping shouldn't feel like a chore, but without an organized grocery list it can. Taking a little extra time on your list can help you avoid impulse purchases, reduce food waste, keep you on track with your budget and may reduce stress while shopping. Here are some tips on how to organize your grocery list to hopefully make grocery shopping go from a stressful chore to fun in the store.

    Preparing to grocery shop

    Having a successful grocery shopping trip starts before you leave your house. One way to ensure you get everything you need is to keep a running list. Whether you do this on your phone or on a notepad stuck to your fridge, every time you run out of something (or notice it's getting low), jot it down. That way you'll have your replacements for the week already covered when you start to organize your grocery list. 

    You may also want to browse your grocery store's app or website to see if there are any sales or coupons for the week. That could help you decide what ingredients to plan your meals around, plus save you a bit of money. Make sure to either print or screenshot the coupon so you have it easily accessible when you're checking out. Some grocery stores allow you to load coupons to your loyalty card right through their mobile app. 

    Planning your meals is very helpful when it comes to grocery list organization. Rather than grabbing an assortment of fruits, vegetables and protein, you can have specific ingredients written down and know exactly what you'll need. This may help you avoid overbuying, which in turn may save you money and avoid food waste.

    Organizing your grocery list

    If you've ever gone grocery shopping at a new or unfamiliar grocery store, you may have been surprised to find that despite never shopping there before, you still had a pretty good idea of where to find the things you need. This is because most grocery stores are generally laid out the same way. Understanding how they're laid out can help you figure out how to organize your grocery list so that you're shopping efficiently. 

    You'll normally find produce at the front of the store, near the entrance. This will include fresh fruit and vegetables and usually things like bags of baby carrots, salad kits, chopped veggies, and to-go cups of cut fruit. 

    Other fresh goods like dairy products, bakery items, meat and seafood and the deli are typically found around the perimeter of the store. Pantry items such as crackers, rice, pasta, canned fruits and vegetables and other shelf-stable goods are found within the aisles through the middle of the store. 

    Knowing this layout can help you group items on your grocery list if you know they'll likely be stored together. Some grocery list categories might include produce, protein, dairy, bread and bakery, pasta/rice, spices/baking, condiments/dressing, etc. If you're having a hard time knowing how to group things, check out some online shopping list templates or make note of what items are in the same aisles next time you hit the grocery store.

    Some grocery stores also have their own apps that allow you to put together your list there, and it automatically organizes your list by section and aisle.

    Grocery shopping checklist

    Before you hit the aisles, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need for shopping. Your grocery list organization will be for naught if you forget the below items.

    • Grocery list (digital or on paper)
    • Coupons (digital or printed)
    • Reusable shopping bags
    • Membership/rewards card for additional discounts
    • Your phone or calculator: If you're concerned about staying on budget, you may want to keep your phone's calculator handy. Every time you add something to your cart, add the price to your running tally. That way, you can see what item might set you over budget.

    If you're worried about having to remember physical copies of things, it's worth noting that there are many digital options and shopping list apps to help you keep track of lists, coupons and membership information. You may want to try a few different ones to see what best works for you to organize your grocery list.

    Shopping for groceries online

    For some people, getting to the grocery store to go shopping may not be easy or realistic. Luckily, there are plenty of options for those who may prefer or require home delivery.

    In the past few years, we've seen many grocery stores implement their own ordering and delivery systems, so it may be a good idea to check there first. Look through your phone's app store or on the grocery store's website to see if they have their own platform. If they do, you'll likely find you'll be able to log in with your rewards membership to take full advantage of those discounts. 

    If your grocery store is smaller or just hasn't decided to go the digital route, check third-party apps and sites to see if they have a partnership with your local store. These partnerships have become increasingly popular over the past few years as more people were looking for alternatives to visiting grocery stores during the pandemic. 

    Whether you use your store's own platform or a bigger third-party service, you'll be able to grocery shop from the comfort of your own home. You often get to choose replacements if the store is out of something on your list, so be sure to have some back-ups ready. Your groceries will then be delivered right to your door. Shopping this way can help you stick to your list, avoid impulse buys and get a pretty good idea of what your total will be before checking out so you can stick to your budget.

    What's more

     There are many things to consider when it comes to how to organize a grocery list but taking a few easy steps may make your life a little easier. Planning ahead will make sure you always have the ingredients you need and organizing your list will make your trip to the store quick and efficient.

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