How to Organize Your Weekly Shopping List

grocery list on refrigerator

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If you're going to the grocery store in person and find you're still spending double what you planned or constantly forgetting essentials, there's a solution: a well-organized shopping list. An organized list ensures that you're filling your fridge and pantry with everything you need for the week instead of buying duplicates of products you don't need. The format you use to keep an organized shopping list—whether it's manually written or kept digitally on your phone—is a personal preference, but there are few general tips that you can't live without.

Keep a Running List in the Kitchen

Where better to keep a running list of items you need from the store but in the kitchen? That way you'll be able to jot down whatever you run out of right away before you forget about it. Employ family members to write down what they need or see missing. Keep the list on the counter, fridge, corkboard, or near your family command center.

Shared Shopping List Apps

Save your sanity by using a shared shopping list app with your family. It lets your family use their smartphones to add to the group's shopping list. That way, they can't complain anymore that you forgot their favorite shampoo.

Use the Store Sales Circular

The grocery store's sales circular (online or paper) is a gold mine when it comes to planning your weekly shopping lists. If you have loyalty cards with various grocery stores, you'll have even more tools to help you unlock more sales and deals hidden in the digital version of the store's circular. Here's why a store circular is invaluable in helping you organize your weekly shopping list.

  • Reading the circular lets you know what's on sale which helps you plan your weekly meals.
  • A circular typically lists whether or not an item has a store digital coupon you can download to your loyalty card to help you lower the cost of your shopping trip.
  • Stock-up sales (for paper, canned, and frozen goods) are typically announced in store circulars that you'd otherwise miss.

Tap Coupon Apps

Many shoppers swear by coupon apps that help them save money. Some of them also help you plan meals. In addition, check out apps that give you free printable coupons.

Organize Your List by Aisles

It helps to organize a shopping list based on the general layout of the grocery store. This tactic keeps your shopping trip efficient and prevents you from running back and forth too many times for various items. There's no need to go aisle by aisle. Simply think about the four basic sections of the store while creating your list:

  • Fresh produce, deli, and bakery
  • Meat, seafood, and dairy
  • Frozen section
  • Inner aisles for packaged, bottled, and canned goods (including pet, household, health, and beauty)

Keep It All Together

Now that your list is organized, you need to keep it handy along with any coupons while you're in the store. Take your list, the circular, and only the coupons you need to the store. Clip them all to a miniature clipboard to keep papers together and easily accessible. Or keep coupons in a small, non-bulky envelope-style holder you can easily grab and riffle through even if you're in the check-out line. It also doesn't hurt to keep your clipped items in a reusable shopping bag so you won't forget to take it along.

Organize a List for the Holidays

For special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and parties you may find it helpful to start with a dish. Write down all the recipes you plan to make, then list all the ingredients. You'll see that some recipes take the same ingredients and you won't need to buy duplicate items.

Categories to Print Out

Below find categories of groceries to further help you organize your shopping list. Print out the list or adapt it as you see fit for your needs. It's divided into three general categories:

Food and Pantry

  • Baking goods
  • Beverages
  • Canned goods
  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Frozen
  • Grains
  • Meat
  • Pet
  • Produce
  • Snacks
  • Spices

Health and Beauty Supplies

  • Bandages
  • Face masks
  • Floss
  • Hairstyling products (spray, mousse)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Moisturizers
  • Mouthwash
  • Ointments
  • Pain relievers
  • Razors
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shaving cream
  • Shower gel
  • Soap
  • Sunblock
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste

Household Supplies

  • Batteries
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Laundry detergent
  • Lightbulbs
  • Office and school supplies
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper