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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159 comments to Grocery Shopping Template (+ My Routine)

  • 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!

  • Hey, Jude

    I cannot explain how much I LOVE using Wunderlist for my grocery shopping list. It is is available for free on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Kindle Fire and the Web. I have it on my iPhone and my Mac home computer. They sync effortlessly. So many people in the grocery store stop and ask me about it, I thought this community might also be interested. I like having it on my computer because it is easier to type a long list. Then I use my iPhone at the grocery store to check off items (they just grey out and move down to “completed items” — you don’t have to retype them, just uncheck for your next week’s list!) You can also create categories; I have: dry goods, produce, meat/deli, frozen & dairy. I also have another list for “household” items such as cleaning supplies, pet food, etc. One more plus — it is paperless and you help the environment in a small way!

  • Heidi

    If you have not already done so, you may want to check out “A Way of Life Farm” at the Charlotte Farmers’ market. Jamie and Sara Jane are the hardest working growers we know, and are absolutely wonderful people. They have a wide variety of organic veggies and fresh pork!

  • Amberly

    Several years ago, I read Simplicity Parenting which suggested having one meal plan for the week and keeping it the same. It is so convenient. Every week, we eat the same thing, so I always have the same shopping List, never have to plan, etc. It takes one chore off my list and the kids love knowing what to expect. Taco Tuesday, Pig Out Thursday, etc. Every once in a while I’ll take something out and put something new in (pork chops instead of pork souvlaki in Thursdays, for example), but everything stays pretty consistent. It makes my life so much easier. And on Mondays, I drop my 3 boys off at gymnastics, run to Aldi, shop, and get back to gymnastics in time to pick them up them up an hour later, which means I only have to shop with one. I love aldi because it has such a small selection, you don’t have to waste time, money and energy on things you don’t need.

  • Laura Chutny

    I do something similar, but all electronic, it goes thus:
    1. Weekly Menu written on chalkboard
    2. Grocery list from fridge typed into my list software
    3. Analyze menu and add to list
    4. Pull from standing list to add to the weekly list (milk, bread, etc)
    5. Sort list according to how I go through the grocery store, as I always go to the same store, e.g. Produce, then bread, then ‘interior aisles’ arranged as they are in the store’, etc.

    I can do weekly shop for 4 people in large store in about 40 minutes if I hustle, and 15 of that is at the till and bagging. I try to bag as per my pantry and fridge at home as well as it makes for more efficient putting away.

  • Erika

    I added a price column to ensure I stay within my super tight grocery budget while I shop. Plus it helps when other things get buried in the cart and I have the “I forgot I got these, but I really don’t need them” when checking out :)

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