Mini Mission: Organizing Your Grocery Shopping Trip

My mom thought I was crazy years ago, when I explained to her that I organize my grocery shopping list. She couldn't see why I would take the extra time to do it, when I could just take my jotted down list (or, in her case, a list in her head) and hope for the best. Then, Wegmans opened. For those of you outside of the New York-Pennsylvania-Virginia corridor, Wegmans is no ordinary grocery store. For one, it's a destination. You can eat at a high end restaurant within the store, browse their wine store, and buy cheap pasta sauce all at the same place. It's huge - much larger than our usual grocery store - and with giant carts and wide-eyed newcomers, a plan is a must. But even if you aren't blessed with Wegmans (or a similarly large grocery store), organizing your grocery shopping saves you both time and money. In conjunction with Works for Me Wednesday, a few tips to get you started.

First, I plan out my meals for the week. If you look at the past few posts, you can see that I try to mix up what we eat, and that we eat the majority of our meals at home. We pack our lunches 4-5 days a week, and I eat breakfast at home (and my husband packs his breakfast as well). A great tool that I recently discovered is "The Eat Sheet" at You can also do this on a piece of scrap paper, but I really liked the one sheet format. Anyways, as I plan out my meals, I keep a running list of items we will need to make each dinner. You can see how there are several items with a question mark - things that we'll need but I think we might actually have in the house (I'll go back and check later). Then I add in other things - stuff for lunches, items from our upstairs list (we keep a white board on our fridge to write things that we're running out of so we don't forget to pick them up), other things that we need for the week.

I don't stop there. As I said before, my grocery store is huge, and without a plan you can spend hours in there. Heck, even WITH a plan it takes me nearly an hour to grocery shop! So an organized list is a must. From my first list, I make a SECOND list. Yes, really. This is the list that I actually take with me to the store. I put my first list in the order of the aisles at the grocery store. This took me a few months to perfect - I had to remember the order of the aisles (and the order in which I like to shop...dry goods, produce, meats, dairy, frozen foods...try to keep the stuff that needs to be refrigerated out of my cart until the end), but now that I know the order, it's pretty simple. (yes, that is my actual list from this's so wrinkled because it made it home at the bottom of one of my bags!)

How much time does it save me at the store? It's hard to say, because I've been doing it for years now. But it's easily 20-30 minutes. (it takes me 5-10 to rewrite the list in order, and I would rather spend that time on my couch instead of standing in the crowded grocery aisles) It also saves me money on two accounts. First, I only go in the aisles I need, so I buy very few impulse purchases (a huge problem at a store like Wegmans). Second, I can look in advance for coupons. I buy a lot of store-brand items (which don't have coupons), but for things that do have coupons, I can look in advance for them.

Saving money AND time? Now that's some serious motivation to be organized!


Young Wife said...

What a great idea! I've made my grocery list according to sections like dairy or dry goods, but putting them in the order of the aisles in your grocery store would save sooo much time!

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