grocery shopping organization

Want to know my secret? I bet you do… Come closer and I’ll tell you…

I don’t do the grocery shopping anymore.

Oh sorry, I was just dancing around cheering and singing involuntarily there for a moment.

The back story is here, if you are interested.

Rob started with something like this:

Grocery Shopping Spreadsheet

which helped us toi identify all the things we purchase at the grocery store.

and now we have a shopping list the goes aisle by aisle. Everytime we ever buy anything he writes it in the proper aisle and then updates the spreadsheet on his computer.

I keep a copies at home where I check off the items we need on the list. Then on grocery shopping day, which is not a set day of the week just whenever we need enough things to warrant a trip, I read of the items by aisle and he checks them off on his master list.

I love this system. Mostly because it doesn’t require me to shop. But also, Rob is much better at not getting extra things like magazines, donuts, cake…

It also forces me to consider, however briefly, what I am going to prepare for meals in the upcoming week. So rarely do I not have the ingredients to make a meal I had been planning.

My problem with meal preparation is more of the oh-my-god-it-is-five o’clock-and-i-haven’t-planned-or-defrosted variety.

I am going to check out some of the suggestions that were left in the comments of the previous post. Some of them sound very promising.

19 Responses to “grocery shopping organization”

  1. Christy Says:

    Whew! I’m not the only spreadsheet nerd out there. :) Since I’m the accountant in the family & do everything in excel, my hubbie was not properly awed by my excel master list, which is very similar to your hubbie’s (only I used more color b/c I’m a girl & like pretty things). :) I’m still working on putting ingredient lists into a spreadsheet - that way I can just look over those & add to the grocery list without having to pull out cookbooks.

  2. sophie Says:

    My hubby does the shopping, and I’ve noticed the same benefits as you have with your husband doing the shopping. We organize a list, too, but nothing quite as extensive as your spreadsheet. You should package it for sale, something like a grocery list template.

    My 2-cents for cookbooks and frantic women: I’m reading the Miserly Meals by Jonnie McCoy. I think you’ll like the way she does not rely on processed foods. In fact, some of her recipes are basic, VERY basic. Did you know that you could make your own granola, Bisquick dough, and chocolate syrup? I didn’t.

    On my list to read: More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. It is out of print but easily available at I liked this author’s book Living More with Less, and she referenced a few recipes in there.

  3. jessie Says:

    Oh my god, CROCK POT! I can not stress enough about the importance of a crock pot. Im home all day and in the winter I use this puppy probably 3 times a week. I cant imagine someone who runs around all day with older kids taking them to school and soccer and stuff NOT utilizing this tool. Plus, who doesnt LOVE soup? I make so much soup, and we love it. Plus it stretches far. Use your crock pot, youll find it to be a good friend.

  4. Christina Says:

    Highly recommend the More-with-less cookbook; I first read it at the library and loved it so much for all the great basics that I bought my own copy at amazon. It is great for all the basics, but our new favorite basics are granola (we make several varieties) and the basic pancake mix, I can make it as healthy as I want it to be and make as many pancakes as we need much tastier than the bisquick boxes. And I may be in love with my crockpots (yes, I have 2, one is oval shaped to handle bigger meals of meat). I have often thought about putting my grocery list onto the computer, but my dh has been doing the majority of the grocery shopping for awhile now, especially the big stuff from BJ’s (I just hate going there but he likes it). I have my own recipe binder that I have mostly typed into word so I can copy and paste and print recipes easily, plus they are organized my way so I can find them easier. My emergency go to dinner is tuna, we all love it and I can do several things with it (casserole, tuna sandwich melts, tuna filled biscuits with cheese, etc.).

  5. Wendy Says:

    That is a good idea. My grocery list is on my laptop, which stays in the kitchen mostly. I print it out the night before I grocery shopping. It helps that I do it on the same day every week. Whenever I need something I just type it on the word doc. There are sections like, non-food, dairy, deli, etc. I do my best to put things in order I came to them in the store. I do run into a problem when I am getting something totally new and I am not sure where it would be.

    I may have to try a spreadsheet. We have one for our budget. It shouldnt be that hard. I do notice weird looks at the store when everyone has their handwritten list and I pull out my computer printout. I got even weirder looks when I had it on my palm pilot. That thing was a pain.

  6. Kristi Says:

    My husband started the spreadsheet list and though I think it is a great way to get it done, frankly I just don’t have the energy to keep up with it. maybe I should revisit that whole idea.
    And I’m with Jesse, my crockpot runs constantly in the fall and winter. I have way more time in the late morning to cook than I do in the evenings.

  7. Kara Says:

    holy cow I’m in awe of your list. I must brainstorm with hubby about this spreadsheet idea. He will love it!

  8. rachel Says:

    wow. that’s cool. maybe if I set out to do that my husband would fix the printer?

    I wrote a while back about my meal planning. basically I look at the circulars, choose the meats on sale, then think of foods everyone likes from those meats. I make up a menu out of that (some fast recipes, some crockpot, etc), and then make the shopping list from the menu. I try to have extras around for an emergency, “I’m too tired” meal, too.

    The big agreement we have is that I can’t make a new recipe unless there are plenty of leftovers from known good recipes. My husband eats leftovers for lunch daily, and it isn’t fair if he gets stuck with nasty food.

    right now I’m realizing that I need to do multiple shorter shopping trips (or cope with my husband’s excessive treat buying) because the scooters in the grocery store are not designed for a week’s shopping for a family of 5, and I can rarely manage the grocery store without the scooter.

  9. pbhj Says:

    Our supermarket (in UK) moves all the items about once every 3 months. Don’t they do that where you are? It’s to get you to see stuff you don’t buy with the hope you’ll think “oh, I wanted toilet roll but hey this dog food looks great” (or something).

    PS: Total overkill.

    If you’re typing everything into the computer why not shop online and let the supermarkets type it all in for you. You usually have a listing of all your regular buys so you can start by adding all of them to your list, then look for things that you don’t buy often and add them.

  10. Anji Says:

    I just do my grocery shopping online. ;o)

  11. Alice H Says:

    When I was on bedrest with my daughter, we started having the groceries delivered. It’s not from the cheapest place in town, and they don’t double coupons like they do if you come into the store, but it certainly was convenient, and they very rarely screwed up the order. We even ordered most of our Christmas dinner pre-cooked from there since I was on bedrest through the holidays.

    We still use the service once in a while when cat litter and/or dog food are on sale - we’ll buy ten packages (we buy the 40-pound tubs of litter) and have them delivered - they’ll carry them right to our storage area.

    The grocery store that offers this service (it’s a Kroger affiliate) also has a ‘just making a list’ service on their website - I’ve never used it, though.

  12. ek Says:

    My husband does the shopping - took it over, really. I still miss the grocery detail though, as I love to cook and love to see what is new - etc. I never remember to put chutney or maifun noodles on his list. That type of stuff leapt out to me as I browsed the store(s). I am a gourmet grocery store junkie, but we have nothing like that here, so it is rare that I get a *fix*. :-)

    I HATE crock-potting foods. On the rare occasion something tastes good - that is a big deal. However, usually things taste like they do at a bad buffet restaurant. There are few recipes - through the America’s Test kitchen researcher/cooks that are scrumptious from the crock - otherwise, well it’s all a crock…

    I like using my pressure cooker to do beans and rice dishes - some Indian foods. Otherwise, I am usually biting my nails to the quick in attempting to figure out a dinner plan.

  13. Fairly Odd Mother Says:

    Is the chart a guy thing? My husband created one that is almost identical to the one you posted. I LOVE it (I still do most of the shopping) and have had to forward the file to many friends for their use too.

    My problem is that our list isn’t nearly extensive enough and I’m always writing things in the margins, sideways. And, I’m not great about thinking ahead for what we may need for a specific meal.

    I did ask for a crockpot for Christmas (ick, I’m getting more and more practical each day!), so maybe that will help me avoid that 5pm-whatarewehavingfordinner-panic, at least once a week!

  14. Kimmer Says:

    I love Excel madly, and use it to keep track of my grocery list, I also put prices in, so I can figure approximately how much I’ll be spending, at least at one particular store.

    I also use it to keep our weekly homeschool lesson plans organized, which is a great help.

  15. Sandy Says:

    My husband went a step further than the spreadsheet. He created an Access database where I enter grocery items and aisle numbers in one screen, I put the items into “recipes” for different meals on another screen, and then I can choose meals and individual items in a shopping list screen.

    Each week my husband does the shopping (easier than shopping with 2-year old twins!), and it’s easy because the database prints the list out in aisle number order.

    Also, we keep a wipe-off board on the fridge for writing down miscellaneous things we need. The rule in our house is if you use something up or notice we need more, write it on the list right away!

  16. chris Says:

    I wish I could do my grocery shopping online.

    But I wish someone would come and put the groceries away even more ;-)

  17. RunnerMom Says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only mom of many children who still say, “oh my goodness it’s five o’clock and I haven’t planned or defrosted anything out yet.”

  18. wookie Says:

    My favourite “It’s 5 (or later) and I haven’t planned or defrosted anything yet” are:

    1) Pancake supper! Add fruit and ham if you’re really wanting to round out your food grouos.

    2) Soup and sandwhiches. ANY kind of sandwhich.

    3) Any 4-6 items that are in the cupboards or fridge and spread over at least 3 food groups, that do not require turning on a stove. Also known as summer meals, this can be things like cheese cubes, sliced tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), celery sticks with cream cheese or PB and raisins (ants on a log), broccoli/cauliflower and dip, crackers, rolled up lunch meat or leftover chicken, bananas/apples/oranges, hard boiled eggs.

    I commute a fair distance to work so this generally happens at least once or twice a week in our house.

  19. uri Says:

    Another option that was not mentioned here is actually to manage the grocery lists on-line.
    The benefit of course is that it is always available (from anywhere )and it can also be co-edited from remote.
    Check out the grocery list example at
    This application allows you for instance to define a master list (organized into categories or aisles) and then use it as a basis for specific lists. Try it, it is free and the user interface is fun.