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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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?

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!)

    1. 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!!

  20. I merely such as beneficial facts people offer in your content articles. I am going to take a note of your blog along with check all over again in this article often. I am just somewhat particular I’ll be well informed many fresh products appropriate here! Enjoy for!

  21. For years now, I have used a pre-printed list that came about by accident. Right after I had my second child, my mom came to town and offered to do a grocery store run for me. As it turns out, we were out of nearly everything, so the list was, well, comprehensive. To help her out, I typed it up in store order with headings much like the ones in your template but with a bit more detail for the dry goods section of the store. She appreciated the organized list and I was so grateful for the help!

    Since then, I’ve turned the list in into a half page, four column list by aisle of the things we buy on a regular basis. I have about 200 items on this list. I print 20 or so at a time and keep them on hand in the kitchen with one at the ready on the white board. When I need something, I just circle it on the preprinted list. If I need something not on the list, I write it in the white space in the correct section. Before heading to the store, I review the whole list for needed usual items that I might have forgotten to circle. Besides keeping my shopping trips organized, it also serves to jog my memory about all the usual stuff that I might otherwise forget. “Oh yeah, we do need kitty litter and coffee!”

  22. I add to my list all week.. It makes it so simple when grocery day rolls around.. I might see other things while I am shopping but my list has the basics and everything I will need for the week…Its maybe even a little easier for me as I rarely make recipes.. I just eat the food as is..I have a stove, oven and a steamer.. Thats about all I need.

  23. Fantastic blog; thank you. : )
    I make a grocery list like this too, except I just just use a blank sheet of paper and create the various sections as I go. I also note on the top of my list the names of the recipes I’m planning to prepare and their locations (book name, page #, etc.) because I can’t trust my brain to remember.

  24. I have started putting sticky notes on the inside of my cupboards so I can write my “low/out of items” down right there on the spot.(I am blonde and I forget as soon as I turn around! :) lol) I just use the command reusable strips. I hot glue 1-2 strips to the back of the sticky note pad {I like the longer ones, measures approx. 9×3)then stick the command strip to the cupboard door. I tend to start at the bottom of the paper and work my way up to the top. (I tear the list off as I put it to the master list)this way I do not waste paper.
    I also have an app on my smartphone for my grocery list. (mighty grocery shopper lite-free) you can customize your list according to stores and aisle!! (plenty of other great catagories…taxes, coupons etc) don’t get me wrong…it took some time to add my standard list to the phone but it is/was so worth it!!! you can even share your list…love that!! so when my hubby is out and about, he can look at our list to c what we need instead of calling me and asking what I need while he’s out!!! got to love technology!!
    love this site…thanks for the great ideas!! love that smoothie tube!! question, is it reusable? any tip you can share on canning would be great…I want to try but a little intimidated by the whole process!!

  25. sharilyn unthank

    For many years when kids were home, I created a list of commonly purchased items and organized it in the order of grocery store. I made menu plans on the backside. There was a seperate section for the fruit market and for Target. Then I posted it on fridge. At time my kids were old enough to circle the item they had just depleted or something they wanted. Then I was not responsible for having to inventory the fridge, pantry and bathroom for things they had used up or guess what they might want in lunches but since I created the master list it did limit the choices such that sweetened cereals, ice cream treats and junk food were really not represented. You could pencil other things in and I might be inclined to buy them. It really worked well.

    1. It’s a 97-2003 version. My Excel 2010 version opened it just fine, after a pop-up window indicating that it was in a different version. I simply clicked “yes” and it opened perfectly.

  26. I admit, I am not as organized as I should be, especially since we started following a gluten-free diet. My husband bought a magnetic grocery list recorder that stays attached to the side of the refrigerator. As we run out of things, we record it to the list. On Monday morning, I usually browse Pinterest for gluten-free recipes that I’ve collected, and I choose several things to cook during the week. I also try to plan crock-pot meals for nights we are going to be out late, but sometimes I end up buying a salad in town. Monday afternoon, we go to Publix. (Would love to have an Earth Fare nearby, but the nearest one is 1 1/2 hours away.) Publix is about a 15 minute drive. I also usually stop in at the health food store every week for certain snacks and yogurt that isn’t available at Publix. And that’s basically all we do.

  27. The ever elusive meal planning and shopping! Thanks for the template. It’s funny that when I make my list, I end up doing it that way already. My husband actually started doing it that way more regularly.

    I am glad you shared your routine. I usually make a meal plan on Sunday night for the upcoming week and shop on Monday so that I have a relaxed weekend, but I like the idea of getting things started Friday. I really don’t like spending my weekend shopping so Friday still works for me.

    Love the note Cathy posted about writing down her dinners for years. I wish I’d done that. There are so many meals I have made and loved and forgotten…

    Nice to be in company of others as thoughtful about what and how they eat, gather and cook.

  28. Our grocery store,Wegmans ,has an app that is great! You can look up regular purchases, check off items as you pick them up in your cart, scan bar codes to add them to your list, find recipes, and so much more!

  29. We use Evernote that works between iPad, iPhone & android devices. We have lists for Target, Trader Joes, and our regular grocery store.
    Store ads come out on Wednesday so I get ideas from there.
    I buy a rotisserie chicken most Sundays which is the base for 2 meal, I bake gluten free that day too
    We map out the week that day and get anything else I need Monday

  30. I want to say that this website has been a true blessing to our family. I have tried for years to be healthy and cut out processed foods, but I always got overwhelmed and I would then give up. The simplicity of the planning and the templates have made it possible for us to truly put into action what we value when it comes to healthy living. We both work full-time and have 2 small children, and your ease of planning and simple advice works for us. Thanks so much for this template! It’s simple and yet so very helpful.

  31. I have been using Grocery IQ for some time now. My husband and I have it loaded on our iPhones and iPads. Either one of us can add items when ever we need to. There is also a web version you can use. You can set up the aisles in order of your grocery store. It works well and saves paper.

  32. I do the same thing only without the template. I use the Notes app on my phone. Each section of the store has its own area heading – Produce, Dairy, Meat, Frozen, Bulk, and Isles – and as I notice stuff that needs replenishing I add it to the appropriate part of the list. Then when I shop I just delete that item from the list. I never delete the area headings as they are in different colors and it would mean redoing it on the computer, then syncing it back onto the phone. I don’t know if this has made sense but if it has, great :) As far as meals, well, right now my husband is working the night shift so I don’t do much for dinner. We don’t have kids so usually just a salad or some chicken or fish for me. He gets sandwich/salad or leftovers in his lunchbox. I’m afraid that probably isn’t much help sorry! :/

  33. As single Mom with 2 1/2 kids at home currently, a job that requires 40-60 hrs a week time is of the essence. Because of where I live (rural MN) I shop at a regular grocery store, there’s no other options. I’ve shopped at the one store for 17 years now. I grab a paper-reused, and write a list through the week of things we’re running out of. I can write it in order because I’ve used the store so long. I keep a running list of our dinners on the computer, divided into regular, crockpot and very fast (average one day a week I need food start to finish less than 20 mins preferably with time to take dog out and scoop kitty litter within that time and those nights I might not get home at all so crockpot is out). Currently I have about 60 meals on that list accumulated in the 12 years since I became a mother (to a 6 1/2 year old so I hit the ground running). About every 6 weeks I sit down with my calender and write the menu down, taking into account activities etc. A few years ago I started keeping my recipes on Tastebook. Now I can easily access all my recipes and don’t have to flip through cookbooks. A day or two before grocery shopping I look at my calender and write my list, looking up the recipe if I need. While putting my recipes on line took serious time (easier because a lot could be searched for and then copied to site instead of typed in), day to day these measures save huge time. In the summer our menu varies more from my calender as we adjust to garden and farmer’s market, but really those meals (salad or stirfry often) are easy to adjust for and give us a needed break from the routine.

  34. We recently moved from the Phoenix area which is a slight mecca of whole foods stores and farmers markets, to Yuma, which is wonderfully hot and full of farm land but a little lacking on the whole foods grocery type stores and once April hits, good bye farmer’s markets, it gets way too hot:). Fry’s and walmart do a pretty good job on the basics but it might be hard to find some things. Any tips or previous posts I can refer to, I did read the one on organic on a budget, etc…I guess we just do the best we can and go from there! Thanks for all the positive advice and motivation to keep going!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Nicole. One suggestion would be to freeze as much fresh produce as you can for the time being. That can help get you through your “dry season”. Best of luck! ~Amy

  35. Barbara Pagoto

    I always shop with a list. And I always use coupons for items that I want to save money. If you’re not using coupons and reading the store flyer for sales you aren’t saving money. I make the list before I go shopping and I check recipes to make sure I get all the ingredients I need.

  36. Kelly Hillman

    Thanks for the great list ideas :) I make a shopping list each week, but leaving it out for updates is probably something I should have thought of a long time ago.

    I know you mentioned your Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market. I don’t know where in NC you are – but you might want to check out Absolute Organics. I was just told about it, and they deliver organic fruit and veggies right to your door! No contract and great prices! They also reward you anytime you refer a friend – so if you decide to check them out and give them a try, I would love if you used my name!

    Thanks again for this great blog – you continue to inspire me and my husband as we pursue a healthy and real food lifestyle.