I 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):