Grocery Shopping Template (+ My Routine)

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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):

PDF Screenshot

Excel Screenshot


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193 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping Template (+ My Routine)”

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  1. This is how my Saturday mornings are after grocery shopping. I pull out my list of meals planned for the week, & prep whatever I can ahead of time. Such as peeling potatoes & putting them in a Ziploc bag with cold water. Chop veggies for a salad. Precooking ground beef, cool & put in bag. Having a roast, brown both sides, cool & put in bag. Clean carrots & celery or whatever you put in your roast. Day of cooking dump it all in crock pot & ready for dinner time.

  2. I made a template of all the typical items I purchase. It is organized by aisle for my main grocery store. I print out several copies and as I make my list, I highlight what I need. I started this because I was pretty much writing the same grocery list over and over.

  3. I used a grocery list that I made in Excel for years and now I use the Cozi app which allows me to share the grocery list with my family. As I add to my list thru the week so can they. I also use Cozi for my weekly meal plans which the family contributes to as well.

  4. Hi, I usually sit down on a Sunday evening and look through my recipe books and scroll through the recipes on my FB that I have saved through the week. Then I simultaneously write 2 lists. On the first list I write name of dish, page # and book name. And on the other list I write the ingredients i need for that dish..
    I do this in that order until I have 5 or 6 dishes. We usually have a leftover dish one of the nights and one night we have “Abendbrot ” (german for: put everything ob the table-boiled eggs, gurkins, sliced tomato and Cucumbers, cheese and cold meats etc. Sauces and spices. …) and everyone can make their own sandwiches for dinner. … girls love Abendbrot

  5. This is great! I also make my list with my husband and kids. They like having an input and it makes my life a little easier. Our meal plan for the week, which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks is on one page and my grocery list is on another. For my “mainstream groceries” I use Kroger’s clicklist. It has changed my life! I have three kids 4 and under and I hate shopping with everyone. It’s worth my $5 and has actually saved me money because it shows me almost exactly what I will spend before weight of some items and coupons. Then I try to hit the Farmers’ Market for fresh produce in the summer (no FM during MI winters…brrr).

  6. Maybe i’m in the minority but i tend to make my lists and then forget what i had planned on making! MY best template includes what yours has but i include a section at the top that lists my meal plans. When i really want to stay on to of it i list the foods that need to be used first below the list.

  7. I created a list of often purchased items in Evernote with a checkbox. I check the items I need inbetween grocery store trips and then uncheck as I throw them in the cart.
    I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out sooner. It was one of those “Duh” moments.
    I need to create the same for Costco.

  8. I like the idea of being super organized with lists, though admit I don’t always succeed… must say you almost lost me at ‘buying coffee at the grocery store.’ Maybe it’s just because I live in the coffee-obsessed city (Vancouver, Canada) but I can’t imagine relying on grocery store beans!

  9. I go a step further and list the things I usually buy (milk, yogurt, meat/fish, Mexican, etc). And put the list close to the order thAt my normal grocery store has things laid out (produce, specialty cheeses, deli, bakery, canned veggies, beans/rice, meat/fish, frozen, dairy, etc). Then all I have to do is put a check mark next to the item. It’s labor intensive at first, but saves time in the long run. If I were smart, I’d keep the list on the fridge so when I run out of something I could add it to the list right away !

  10. This sounds a lot like what I do – except I order what I can from the online shopping at Harris Teeter on Wednesday or Thursday night (they carry the basic organic stuff and paper towels, detergent, things like that) and set it up to be picked up by Sat am. Then On my way to HT to pick up my order on sat morning, I hit Whole Foods and get the core of our food there – all the good stuff you can’t get at the regular store. Our WF has a better organic produce section than the Earthfare. I want to like EF so much but WF wins out time and again. Either way – its my way of doing it and it works out nice. Planning ahead is the KEY to any healthy eating – especially when you have kids who are doing all kinds of busy stuff during the week after school.

  11. This sounds a lot like my menu planning every week. I use Trello to plan my daily meals and create my 2 checklists, one for the store and one for the farmers market. I started using Trello after a few of my paper shopping lists got lost, the app syncs with my phone, my husbands phone and my desktop computer. Thanks for the great post!

  12. This real food eating is still new to us. Having just begun to buy grass fed/organic meat, I’m still feeling my way. This is what I did for this month.
    I planned meals for the entire month. Sunday lunch is fend for yourself and supper is grilled cheese and soup from the freezer. ( I keep single serving meatless homeade soups in mason jars.).
    Shopped farmers market first. It’s an hour away. Got all meat I’d need that I didn’t already have in freezer. Next it was Whole Foods, in that same area, where I was able to get produce and seafood. They have a good selection of organic, so that was great. I also bought bulk nuts and a couple of organic products I can’t find at my local grocery store including dairy.
    When I got back to town, I stopped in Kroger for a couple produce items I didn’t find for a good price at WF.
    Having many pantry items, My shopping is done for the month except for picking up more fruits and veggies.
    It was an ordeal, but I think I can actually keep my expenses reasonable Im buying only what we will eat and leaving the expensive junk at the store.
    Oh, did I mention how well I feel? My triglycerides are down nine points and my blood pressure is dropping and I’ve even lost a few pounds.

  13. I’ve also found using Amazon Prime for bulk purchases of organic canned goods like Muir Glen diced tomatoes, Pacific chicken stock, Organic coconut milk and the like is helpful. Using the subscription service increases the bulk discount an extra 5% and you can choose how often you replenish your supply. Also, if you have more than five items being replenished in a month you receive a 15% discount instead of the normal 5%. And did I mention it comes directly to you? Bonus if you’re a city girl in a walk up.

  14. I haven’t totally perfected this yet but we have have been doing our groceries by month. We buy a variety of fruits and vegetables stored in my Tupperware ventsmarts . We consume the more perishable quickly (banana and cucumber etc) and eat the (apples/oranges/carrots later) later in the month so we always have fresh to eat. I buy a large amount of milk and freeze it and make a rough plan of 10 meals then double (so 20 meals plus Sundays we always have eggs/pancakes/waffles etc for brunch) On weekends we often eat out side of the home either at restaurant or at someone else’s or have left overs. Sometimes we do have to run out for a few things but more often than not we either go with out or find a substitute. We recently started splitting the grocery list among our family members (3 children aged 11-19 plus 2 parents) and last time it took us 30 mins at Costco for a months groceries! I’m loving the extra time at home and cooking my meals in double and then freezing the other for another time. I’ve been doing this for almost a year now so I usually have left overs from the months before so often we don’t have to eat the same meal twice in the same month. To keep track of our list I use an app on my Iphone to keep track of our “regular items” I just click on them to add them and un-c;ick to remove.

  15. Wondering if you’ve checked out Thrive yet? I just recently discovered it and am working to get our family on real food and this looked like a handy way to get staples. Just looking for experienced reviews.

  16. I don’t use a list or do any planning. I buy whatever clean meats and organic vegetables are on sale that week and just deal with those items. I keep staples stocked from a trip to the coop bulk food bins once a month. Buying oats once a week seems like a lot of work! Buying ingediants for specific meals is too expensive at the organic grocery stores. If there is a really good sale I stock up on meat and freeze it. I have powdered milk if we run out, frozen butter, frozen veggies and fruit (loaded up on a sale). The only thing we need every week is avocados.

  17. The big go-to in our house is a stash of meals in the freezer. Right now I have a black-bean and cheese enchilada, a seasoned chicken ready for the grill, some soups, organic sausages and white fish.
    About once a month, I prepare a bunch of different things (maybe 10 meals like this).
    Then on a particular day, If I don’t have time or energy to really ‘cook’, most of these meals can be thrown in the oven and just served with a side salad.
    It saves a lot of stress about what to have for dinner and keeps us from defaulting to take-away foods.

  18. I use the Wunderlist app for all my lists…by grocery store,Target, Walmart ( when I don’t think this store is the devil). If you check the things off on your list as you go, (instead of deleting them) they go into the “completed” pile at the bottom of your running list- this becomes your list of your essentials. Easy peasy!

  19. I use a large white board on the cabinet beside the fridge. On the right input a loose menu plan by day. On the left I make a shopping list by store. Aldi has a small section at the top and the main grocer at the bottom. I group the main list main areas of the store as I write it so I can flow easily at the store. I then snap a picture with my phone and shop using my phone at the store. Easy and I can add things as I notice them and not just when I am making the list!

  20. I have been using this template and I love it! Since you do your grocery shopping in several places do you keep a separate list for each store? I’m curious as to how you stay organized because I sometimes find it challenging to have one big list that I have to sift through depending on which store I go to.

    1. Yes, I do – I usually write out a sticky note for the farmers’ market stuff and most everything else goes on here (with Trader Joe’s stuff going at the very top above the spreadsheet boxes) since I usually stop there on the way home from the other store. I hope that helps!

    2. Megan –

      I use an app called Grocery IQ. I have a list for each store (Wal Mart, Target, 4 different grocery stores, etc.). I even make other non-food related lists like “places to vacation,” “books to read,” even “Amazon.”. My hubby has the app on his phone, can see my lists, and can run to the grocery store for me.

      1. Me too! I have 4-5 different stores and its a great idea to keep track of prices.

  21. I use “keep” app on my phone (which is shared with my husband) for the grocery list. I can cross out what I don’t need but next time I can uncheck it, so the list is always there. Love that app. Also if I can’t go to the store and my husband can, he can see the changes I made on the list and he knows what exactly I need.

  22. I use the Kroger app! It might even be useful if you don’t have a Kroger store in your area (I sometimes add things I need from Wal-mart or Target). I love it because I can add items on my phone at anytime without looking for my list, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring my list to the store. It automatically sorts things by area of the store, so I spend less time retracing my steps if I forget one item in part of the store that I have already been too. And a big bonus – my husband can log into my account using the app on his phone and shop for me without me having to send him the list! And if you actually shop at Kroger, you can add items to your list from the Kroger ad or their list of coupons.

  23. I just started using an online grocery delivery service. The first order arrived last night and because of that I will be saving 2-3 hours in my day I can use to cook healthy meals instead. They even got an app I can keep adding items to my shopping cart as I remember them during the week.
    I may never go to a supermarket for big grocery shopping again…

  24. 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 :)

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

    1. 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