Grocery Shopping Template (+ My Routine)

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shopping listI recently learned that writing your grocery list out on an organized “template” can make food shopping so much easier. I realize this is not a new idea…just something I am only now figuring out for some reason! Surely everyone has a running grocery list of some sort – a list where you write down “peanut butter” when you realize you are getting low or where you add “crackers” because you realize you have none. For many years my running list has been on a basic pad of paper, and I would add anything else we need right before going to the grocery store. And for many years I would almost be done with all my shopping and then look at my list and say “Oh, I forgot the coffee” and quickly retrace my steps back to the beginning of the store to get it. :) I’m sure I’m not alone here!

So between all the categorized shopping lists that come with the meal plan services these days and the template my girlfriend uses that’s organized by the aisles of her favorite grocery store, I decided it’s time to have some sort of template of my own! And I of course had to share my template with all of you, which is why I’ve attached both a PDF version and an excel version below (so you can modify it to your liking). You could start with a blank template each week or edit the excel version by adding items you buy every week (for us that would be things like milk, bananas, oats) so you don’t have to write those same items down each and every time (and also so you don’t forget them). My organized girlfriend keeps a stack of her grocery shopping templates on a clipboard in her kitchen so it’s always accessible when someone needs to add that item you just ran out of – I think I am going to start doing something similar.

And on that note, here is my current routine that I’ve been trying to (loosely) follow each week…

  • Thursday Late Afternoon/Evening: I ask each family member to pick one dinner recipe (usually out of a cookbook) for the upcoming week. I come up with 1 to 2 dinner recipes/ideas myself, and then I create an extremely informal (chicken scratch) dinner plan for the next 7 days. I put simple dinners and crock pot meals down on the days we have after school activities, and I (try to) put more involved dinners down on the weekends and days where we don’t have any late afternoon commitments. I also almost always leave one night open and write something like “TBD” or leftovers…we rarely need 7 completely different dinners within a week (it’s usually more like 5 or 6 and then the other nights we “scrounge” leftovers or make something simple like scrambled eggs to go with said leftovers). Then I add all the necessary ingredients for those dinners plus some items I think we’ll need for breakfast and lunch to the grocery list/template. I also make a separate list of the items that I can get at the farmers’ market (i.e. meat, eggs, some veggies, etc.). This whole process takes me between 30 min and an hour and I am not going to lie…it’s not something I enjoy doing, but it’s got to be done!
  • Friday Morning or Afternoon: I drive about 20 minutes to Earth Fare to do my shopping. There are dozens of grocery stores between our house and Earth Fare, but I’ve found I can get almost everything I need at a “health food” store and they (by far) have the biggest and best selection of organic produce, which prevents me from having to shop around a great deal. While there I stock up on everything I think we’ll need before the next Friday shopping day rolls around. I occasionally stop at Trader Joe’s (and the bread store) on the way home.
  • Saturday Morning: We get up early and hit the farmers’ market for those items that can be purchased locally! If we don’t get there early we’ll miss out on the “good” stuff. :)
  • Rest of the Week: If I “forgot one thing” or think of something else I could suddenly use, we’ll run a mile down the street to our mainstream grocery store for that onesie twosie thing I need. It happens to the best of us…it seems like more often than not (no matter how hard I try to be organized) I always forget something!

Be sure to check out my meal planning post for more tips…and please share your routine with us in the comments below! I’d love to get more good ideas on how to make this whole process even more efficient. The least amount of time I spend meal planning and grocery shopping the better. :)

Grocery Store Templates (Click to Download):

PDF Screenshot

Excel Screenshot


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154 comments to Grocery Shopping Template (+ My Routine)

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  • Becky

    I started using a free App for my phone called Grocery IQ.
    It has thousands of items preloaded, and you can create your own items as well separate lists.
    It organizes by aisle too, and you can change the aisles to suit your store as well.
    I always have my phone with me, so it’s easy to just open the App and add an item, especially after I’ve left the house and suddenly remember something and don’t have a printed out list with me to write it on.

    I would constantly forget something at the store if I didn’t use this App! ( I am in no way affiliated with the App either – I just love it!)

    • Cindy

      Becky, I completely agree with you on the Grocery IQ app. I used to have printed out shopping lists much like the one here but I would occasionally forget the list and get into town (13 miles away) without it. I almost always have my cell with me and can add items at anytime throughout the day. I don’t have to worry about printer ink or copy paper either. I am not associated with the app either but I highly recommend it!!

  • Connie

    When our HEB rearranged and enlarged they put out a map with an aisle by aisle directory. I went through the aisle by aisle writing down Aisle 4 and all the things I get off it and on and on. Then I typed it up on my computer and print off 3-4 copies at a time. Be sure to save it! Then I put the copies on my refrigerator and when I run out or think of something I need, I highlight it-always having to pencil in things;) I carry that list to the store with me and I can get through pretty fast-depending on the time of day-bypassing aisles I haven’t marked anything on. Works well and people are always asking where an item is and most times I can tell them where they can find it. If your store doesn’t have a map like this you may have to take the time to go down each aisle noting the items you get off each on.

  • Brittany

    If you haven’t already, you might check out I’m not very good at meal planning–we have too many unfinished projects and chaos for me to implement and keep a good system going…we’ll get there, hopefully before my eldest starts kinder this fall and No3 comes in the winter. When I have gotten a real meal plan up and running, I’ve used Plan To Eat and really like it.

    Plan To Eat is a web based service that allows you to keep your recipe collection and drag/drop them into a calendar. It uses what you’ve scheduled to generate a shopping list that allows you to bump basic staples over to a pantry so that it doesn’t put “salt and pepper” on your list every week…it’s smart enough to add quantities of items so you don’t get too little of something, and you can setup a favorites list for those regular things you buy that aren’t necessarily in a recipe.

    I especially liked this meal planning service over others because I can input my own family recipes and import recipes from blogs or favorite recipe websites. This aspect of it means some initial setup before you can really use it, but ultimately it means total flexibility and takes out so much grunt work.

    Just thought I would share that for anybody who doesn’t have a fondness for the pen and paper version. I think it’s a very well designed system.

  • Ada Wood

    I have just created my template mid-July. I have a weekly dinner menu (we are consistent with breakfast at home and lunch at work/school). On the left column it’s the days with a “theme” (Fishy Monday, Slow-cook Tuesday, Leftover Wednesday, Latin Thursday, Asian Friday and Family member’s choice for Saturday and Sunday. I ask for input from family during the week or I fill in the rest with new recipes I’d like to try. In the middle column is a reminder space…”take out frozen chicken for tomorrow’s dinner”, also, we rate our dinners 1-10 and make any improvement notes here. On the last column is the shopping list divided into categories (produce, dairy, meats, etc). If I’m cooking from a recipe, I look through the ingredients list and put in only what I need in the right category. BTW…on the far left I make a note of the cookbook and page (or where I can find the recipe).
    My supermarket visits are sorter and my fridge in no longer “obese” with all of the extra and unnecessary stuff in it. I would attach a copy of my template if I knew how…
    Happy planning! xoxo Ada

  • I do something similar, but since we usually buy the same things over & over, I have our regular items typed out. I keep the lists clipped to our fridge, & we highlight things as we run out. Mine is organized by our local grocery store layout.

  • Love this! We just moved into our own home (FINALLY – a three year saga!) and I have had so much fun grocery shopping and cooking (I know that will wear off soon, but I am enjoying for now!). Your spreadsheet is exactly how I organize my list on my pad and paper! I am going to print out a bunch of these and put them in my notebook. I keep a “Notebook of the Week” where I put the recipes for that week’s dinners, a calendar of what I am preparing each day and what I need to prep for the next day and any other important events/materials for that week (including a pocket for coupons!). I keep the cookbooks and all of the previous recipes in a separate binder tucked in a cupboard for reference so I don’t clutter my counters (just the one 1/2 binder is out for the week) and the smaller notebook can go to the grocery store with me!
    Thanks for another great entry!

  • Leslie

    Thanks for sharing this! I have already printed mine out and started my list. There are all sorts of colorful & fun grocery list templates on pinterest as well.

  • Kelli

    I started using the free site/app about a year ago to organize my recipes (easy to import or add recipes manually), meal planning, and shopping list. I create my meal plan on my desktop/laptop and click the “add to list” button at the top of the calendar day and every ingredient needed to make the meals for that day is added to the grocery list. I love this app and wish I had found it sooner. There is a little upfront investment of time for the auto populated grocery list, but it’s so worth it. And, if you prefer, you can just type out your list in the app or on the website. All information is synchronized with the app on your phone, iPad, tablet, etc.

  • Mellie

    I have a question about the farmers market. How can you make sure you find organic veggies? I’m always afraid of the chemicals.

  • pril

    No templete i just keep a list in e-mail and e-mail my self for the week. so i can search week of what ever week i want and see what i shopped and ate for that week.
    this includes the changes too. because we all know life happens.

    i just have to get quicker with preparing the meals. as i spend every waking moment with meal planning and making and cleaning that i dont have time for self or hubby.
    got any tips for that?

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Pril. Of course I would be lying if I said that eating real and cooking real doesn’t require more time and prep. I think that Lisa finds her freezer to be one of her greatest allies in this way of life. She can make big batches and freeze them as well leftovers for another day. This post offers a really good idea: Even if you are not interested in the service, the concept is very useful. Hope that helps a little. ~Amy

  • Belle

    I don’t mind surfing through my recipes, but it gets old for me as well. My hubby HATES looking through recipes, but can’t seem to remember past what we ate for dinner that night. So for Valentine’s Day I created a meal organization list. I went through all of our favorite recipes and listed out our go to chicken, beef, veggie and seafood recipes. I meant to laminate it, but never got to office depot, but it is hanging on our cork board in the kitchen. So when I ask him what he’s hankering for he can look at the list (not the “real recipe name” but what we know it as) and provide suggestions instead of me rolling me eyes that he can’t remember anything, AGAIN. :) It’s worked well so far, i feel like we aren’t repeating the same 4 dinners every week and i also don’t feel as mentally taxed. And because it is saved on our computer, i can add to it easily!

  • Cindy

    I use an app on my ipad called Paprika. You can search online recipes and add them to your collection (I especially love it with pinterest recipes) and then you enter the meal that you want for each day and automatically add it to your grocery list. You can then go into the grocery list and uncheck anything that you don’t need. You can either print or email this grocery list, or just bring your ipad to the store.

    There are only 2 downsides: a recipe that can’t be found online you either have to hand enter, or just manually add the ingredients to the list (not a big deal), and though the grocery list is divided by topic (dairy, meat etc) these are listed alphabetically so you can’t arrange it in order of your store’s aisles. (And the anal-retentives like myself are driven crazy by this.)

    I don’t work for Paprika or anything, I just thought I would offer a suggestion.

  • @sanivoreWTF

    For the budget conscious, I use the weekly ad of my favorite grocery store to determine my list. It helps to determine which produce is fresh and in season and I decide on meals based on that. It’s also great to stock up on the basics, like canned beans and veggie broth, when it’s on sale. I use Yummly to find recipes using less familiar seasonal produce or to try something new. And yes, I keep my list on the Notes app on my phone so I don’t forget the list! However, I’m just shopping for myself so I’d agree using a paper list all household members have access to.

  • Debbie

    I just started shopping every 2 weeks to try and cut budget. I just my iPhone and iPad together. They have an app that is reminders. I make my menu and shopping list on my iPad and then am able to get it off my iPhone to shop . We have 8 to 10 people to feed at night so it has help me be more organized. I always have my phone if I need to add something when I think of it. I also keep of list of 14 meals my hubby loves so when I need to add a few extra meal I go to my list and it is easy.
    Thanks for your blog, I am learning a lot about real food that is how we are trying to eat now, cut the processed you really have to be more organized!!

  • Hi There,

    Here in Australia we have little competition in groceries, but one of our major stores home delivers. I have 4 children so I find this is a great option for me. Because you order online I can do it anytime of the day, while drinking a cup of tea, vacuuming, showering, standing on my head in my PJ’s (nude!)… anyway I like! My log in keeps a list of my usual’s so after I’ve written my meal plan of my Disney Calender I go to my usual’s list to make my order. I also have a running list in the pantry of things we have run out of so I add these too. I find that shopping this way stops me overspending and I definitely only buy the quantities I require rather than stocking up for a rainy day just because it’s on sale and having it languishing in the back of the pantry.

  • Carolyn

    I use an app called “Out of Milk”. It’s available for android and iphone/pad and on my computer. I can add items I need as I think of them. You can also scan the barcode of an item as you use the last of it. I can rearrange them into the order I find them in the store, so I don’t have to walk back across the store for the watermelon I forgot. And best of all, I put the app on my husband’s phone so he can add things – OR – he can see my list and go to the store for me! You can check the items off as you get them. And you can have multiples lists – Grocery store, farmers market, Target, drugstore etc. I am not affiliated at all with them, just like the app a lot!

  • Tracy

    I find it takes me less time if I can meal plan for the whole month. I use a calendar template in excel and write in the meals for the month. If I plan chili or spaghetti (for example) I prep those on the weekend and have them ready to heat up on their scheduled day.

    I still grocery shop weekly but the meals are planned out for the whole month.

  • Lacy

    I found a ‘This month for dinner’ template and print one out each month. Then I fill in our dinners from a growing list of things we like to eat. My hubs is easy with whatever we eat, and while I make a few concessions for the kids while meal planning, they usually are good with whatever I cook. I shop Friday mornings do Thursday night I go through my calendar and recipes to make a grocery list. Also, at the first of each month I make a trip to a health food store that has good sales on meat and stock up for the month.

    I think I could refine my system to make it more efficient, and I probably will have to do that when I go back to work next year, but for now this works for us.

  • Dawn

    I live in Charlotte and occasionally go to the Charlotte regional farmers market on Saturdays. I feel like it’s always hit or miss there and was wondering which farmer markets in Charlotte you prefer.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Dawn. I think Marnita in the comment below was also responding to your question with a lot of good info. :) Lisa’s favorite area farmers market is the one in Matthews. ~Amy

  • Marnita Causby

    I’ve found that Charlotte Regional has lots of local farmers that have organically grown veggies. You just have to know who they are and make sure to sign up for their weekly emails letting you know what they’ll have at market and possibly if they aren’t going to be there that week. I know A Way of Life Farm, Laughing Owl Farm, Lost Arrow Ranch, Poplin Farm, Glencora Farm, Underwood Family Farm are at Charlotte Regional every week. There are others too I just can’t think of their names. Most of these farms have an online presence but a few don’t. Once you find them online, make sure to get on their email list. And as she stated above, you definitely have to get there early or you will miss out on the good stuff. There are a lot of other really good markets in Charlotte like Atherton Mill Market, Matthews, and Davidson farmers markets. Hope this helps.

  • [...]  friend posted this on my Facebook wall when I lamented about my current dissatisfaction with my meal planning [...]

  • I have on one side of paper, my common items in the order of the store so we can circle them as needed. On the other side, have the “Chemical Cuisine” from Center for Science in the Public Interest. I also use the evernote app. That way I can check off the items I need. And I put the price by the items so I’ll know what I normally pay for them.

  • Carol

    Thank you for sharing this shopping template. I have used it many times and I just thought this time I should write a quick note to express my appreciation for what you do. I really enjoy your blog and it has inspired me to incorporate even more whole and organic foods in our family’s diet (we are even participating in a CSA now). Keep up the great work!

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