Grocery Shopping Organization

About 10 months ago, my husband and I took a step back and looked at our weekly dinners. And by dinners, I mean panic to nourish ourselves before we either pass out or hanger takes over. It was clear to us – we needed a plan.

Now, perhaps meal planning is for another post or series of posts. Or for a post that will never happen because I don’t have it figured out even a little bit. But one thing about meal planning is grocery shopping. OH THE GROCERY SHOPPING. Now, when writing things down on a list (even a segmented one), you still get quirks and whatnot with your local grocery store that your list doesn’t account for. Is the deli on the left or the right? Which entrance do you usually go in? Is the milk on the far far left or at the very back? If there’s one thing I hate, it’s walking back and forth across the grocery store to get the things I forgot, or missing an item on the list because I’ve scratched off everything around it. So I thought what I think when faced with most problems: there has got to be an app for this. And there was. There’s a free and paid version of the ShoppingList app (note: I am not affiliated with ShoppingList and this post was not sponsored in any way. Other than by the Coalition for Grocery Shopping Sanity) So I downloaded it and this is what I did –

1. Go to the grocery store and take a photo of every aisle sign – usually hanging in the middle of the aisle.
2. When you get home, take those photos and make them into categories in the ShoppingList app on your Apple device. The first category being where you START shopping (Deli or Fruit/Veg, usually) and the last category being where you finish shopping (Frozen).

Don’t use my categories, use the aisle signs you photographed. Also, if you shop at a few places, this is ok. Most of these things are often together, so it’s still better than a list scrawled on the back of a receipt. Use the store you shop at most often.

These are my categories – It’s important to enter them in in the ORDER YOU SEE THEM IN THE GROCERY STORE. Sorry, am I yelling?

  • Deli
  • Breads
  • Fruit/Veg
  • Bulk Bins
  • Candy/Crackers/Nuts
  • Baking/Pancakes/Spices
  • Soups/Canned Fr & Veg
  • Mexico/China/Rice/Sauces
  • Pasta/Oils/Sides/Tinned
  • Coffee/Tea/Juice packs
  • Meat & Fish
  • Chips/Pop
  • Cereals/Breakfast
  • Kleenex/TP/Pets
  • Cleaning/Laundry
  • Dairy
  • Pharmacy
  • Frozen

You can even break up the meat (if it’s at the end of the aisles) to illustrate which meat coincides with the end of which aisle, and make it into two or three separate categories.

When you put something into a category once, it remembers the category. On this example, I tapped the “Lemon” listing that I had previously put in, and it tells me I want the Fruit/Veg department and then I click save, or add, or whatever the button is that happens to be at the top. This example makes me look like an idiot, because obviously lemons are in the fruit/veg department, but you get what I’m trying to illustrate here.

So you put in all your items, and go off to the grocery store, jauntily strolling through the aisles with your mobile device in hand, loaded with an immaculately organized list, tapping the items as you go. This list below is a list I made specifically for Rockin’ Moroccan Stew – so I’d always know what we needed for it.

Then you can clear the done items as you get to the ends of the aisles. If you find something in a different aisle, you put it in the appropriate category and, next time you purchase that item, you know just where to find that damned lemon juice (note: NOT in the Fruit/Veg department) or elusive can of water chestnuts. No walking back and forth to get numerous different items.

And if you want your spouse to pick up a few things on the way home, you can send them a handily categorized list in their email so they can take advantage of your killer organization.

And just like that, saved from pulling my hair out, rushing around while hungry and trying to find those stupid items that you buy every two months and can never remember where to find them.


7 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping Organization

  1. Rae says:

    I must say it sounds like a tad bit of work but I think I will check it out. It is irritating to say the least when you come home without the one thing you went for.

    I thought that I had signed in so I could comment on your blogs but can’t remember, I guess my brain is full with my grocery lists.

  2. shannon says:

    I’m trying to remember the name of the grocery app that Steve and I used to use. It was awesome, too. We both had it on our phones and if I updated my list, it would sync to his and vice versa. Very handy… until we forgot the password and did nothing to remedy the situation.

  3. Louise G. says:

    Ok. So Diana said you were amazing — and it’s true! Wow! I am in awe and bow down to your sanity ’cause I’ve lost mine anyway — is there an app to find it? Is there an aisle in the grocery story where it might be? 🙂

    thanks — love your list idea — I’m going to try it out tomorrow for my dinner party! As soon as I figure out what I’m cooking of course…

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Louise! I’m sure there’s an app to find your sanity. Or, ironically, it’s probably just the “do not disturb” option on the phone…

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