Organizing your grocery lists

When you are starting to get organized I would strongly encourage you to do some menu planning one part of this process is; organize your grocery lists. I remember years ago I used to go to the grocery shop very regularly, that is, without a shopping list and normally whilst I was hungry, needless to say I wasted a lot of time and money. 

Organizing your grocery lists – the shops layout 

As a child I thought it was kind of funny watching my mum regularly create a grocery list in order of the structure of the shop. Now years later, I do the same.

Grocery shops are big spaces in Australia and everywhere you look items are scrambling for your attention - organizing your grocery lists means you have a game plan. (I am yet to meet the person who really likes grocery shopping).

Going to the shops with a game plan doesn’t only save time and money it will enhance your sanity.

Organizing your grocery lists
the actually list

To make a good grocery list, think about the layout of the shop, where will you go past first? What is next, visualize the walk around the shop in your head. In my case I first come past the dairy (I skip fruit and veg, as I get this from the local green grocers and where possible I get bread from the local bakery), followed by meat, cereals, cooking items, some biscuits or chocolate (on occasion), herbs and spices, pasta and rice and lastly more the personal cleaning or household cleaning products. 

I have two-pronged approach to grocery lists:

  1. The brain dump (write what you need when you need it, it is akin to writing a draft)
  2. The more structured grocery list in order of the shop

As I am going through my original “brain dump” (grocery) list, I have a quick look at my meal plan for the next week. I double check what I need in order to be able to make those meals (which means I often quickly check the pantry, fridge and freezer as well). 

I then rewrite everything again, but now in order of the shops layout. This saves me walking backward and forward whilst I am there. If I need to go to a couple of shops I break the groceries list down into the different shops and still work on their layout aiming to do a clean, quick walk through each shop I visit. 

Organizing your grocery lists – Location at home

Make it easy to create your initial grocery list, I have mine in the kitchen on the fridge, next to a stand with pens. Normally the thought for a grocery item comes up whilst I am in the kitchen so I quickly write it down and forget about it for the time being. This system also works if you have family members at home. At six my son is already in the habit of writing groceries on the list and seeing this is the draft version, it can be written very messy. The main thing is getting the information on paper.

Organizing your grocery lists – additional things to consider

  • Only go to the shops when you have eaten. 
  • If possibly break it up with a coffee break prior to or after shopping
  • Take your shopping bags (saves the environment)
  • Do not forget it takes time to drive to the shops and to unpack the groceries
  • If you want to, you can even work out a (rough) budget for your groceries prior to leaving so you go in very prepared. If you opt for this, your groceries link to both your meal plan and your budget and your level of organization will really be starting to flow. 

No organizing your grocery lists at all – get someone else to do it

Alternatively, you outsource some of grocery chores to services like HelloFresh or sign up for IQS (I Quit Sugar) which means you don’t have as many groceries to do. 

On the beginning of 2016 I signed up for an eight-week program with IQS (I Quit Sugar) this was a challenging program and simultaneously a very rewarding experience. It came with a weekly grocery list and a weekly meal plan. All I had to do was follow the list in the shops and cook what was suggested. Some of the things which prevents us with menu and meal planning is the amount of thinking and planning we need to do, services like IQS and HelloFresh can take a lot of this burden away from us. 

I Quit Sugar 

Fellow Australian Sarah Wilson started an experiment to stop sugar in 2011 this resulted in her feeling a lot better and she kept doing it. It transformed into a book covering an eight-week program and this moved onto an online service, more books, an online community and has become a global movement helping people break the sugar habit over a set period of time (8 weeks). IQS does this by providing you with lots of information, support and encouragement. I never thought I could or would want to give up sugar a couple of years ago, but somehow I realized this might be worthwhile, results have been very positive. I lost 5 kilo’s got more energy, started exercise and learned more about cooking. 

IQS 8 Week Program

If you would like to give quitting sugar a go or simply find out more information, you can sign up here.

There are also lots of books to have a look at.

My favorites are simplicous and the kids cookbook.

Simplicious Kids Cookbook


As mentioned on my meal planning page outsourcing part of the meal planning and grocery shopping can be a great investment in your health and reduces your grocery bill and stress levels associated with dinner times. 

If I am not on a IQS program, I am normally ordering boxes from HelloFresh between the programs, I find dinner times and buying groceries is easier and health goals get achieved with a lot less effort.

A secret to organizing - don't go it alone

I am always on the lookout for products and services which can make life easier more enjoyable and more organized. As you can see, instead of organizing your grocery lists completely every week using external services is as far as I am concerned isn’t cheating, it is brilliant!

Just because you have all the organizing skills at your disposal doesn’t mean you should do everything. There are services which specialize and can do a much better and efficient job than you and I can on our own. If the services are there, if they save time and / or money I tend to be in as it allows me to work on what I am good at – writing, speaking and teaching people about organizing ;-)


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