A solid grocery list is your ticket to healthy meals. When you have the right groceries on hand, you can drum up nutritious meals and snacks. While stocking the wrong groceries you’ll be ordering takeout in no time.
The very first thing you need to do is decide where you will keep your list.
Are you a paper person? Take a few minutes to find a dedicated notepad. Pick a place to keep it in between shopping trips. Make sure you always keep it in the same spot so it’s easy to find. This is my preferred method because I do like finding small ways to unplug. If you use a paper, don’t forget to take a picture when it’s complete. The time you don’t, you’ll forget the list 🙂
Are you a techie with an app for everything? Think about creating your list in a simple note taking app. Or spend some time in the app store looking at the apps specifically made for grocery lists.
It may take a few shopping trips to get your method down, but if you start setting aside just 15 minutes before you shop to make a list, you’ll quickly see some benefits.
7 Steps to a Solid Grocery List
Without further ado, here are my steps to making a solid grocery list.
- Decide how many days/meals you’re shopping for. Don’t buy more than you need! This is a quick and easy way to overspend on groceries, and also end up with food going bad before it’s used up.
- Create a section for each area of your grocery store. This can be as detailed or general as you’d like. Ideas include product, deli, dairy/eggs, bulk, bakery, cereal, frozen, and international. you can get specific with center aisles, or lump them together. I use four sections for my list sections: produce, shelf stable, refrigerated, frozen. I could split refrigerated into 2 sections (deli + dairy/eggs), but like to keep it super simple.
- If you shop at multiple stores, note which items will be bought at each store. You may want to keep a separate list for each store, or simply note the items on the list that come from different places. I typically do most of my shopping at one place, so I note the items I need to pick up from a second store. Usually I’ll just put the store initials next to the item.
- Have your meal plan handy. Put everything on the list you need to make each meal in your plan. Don’t forget to add in enough breakfast, lunch, and snack options. This is my biggest struggle. I’m getting pretty good with dinner plans, but not so great with other meals.
- Check your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer for an item BEFORE you put the item on the list. Cross off an item from your list to note you already have it. I recently ended up with 4 jars of applesauce when we only go through one per week. There are worse things in life, but why spend extra money when you don’t need to?
- Only put things on the list that you NEED for your planned meals. This sounds straightforward, but it is so easy to get caught up with what’s on sale. Likely you’ll end up picking up a few extra things in the store anyway, so why not give yourself a head start.
- Lastly, do a nutrition check. Make sure your produce or fruits and vegetables section of the list is the longest part. If not, you may be missing some fruits and veggies for snacks. Consider adding a few more to the list.
So there you have it. The most important first step is to give list making a try. Play around with what works best for you and the offerings of the stores you frequent. Making a solid grocery list just takes a little bit of time and is one simple way to help you make good food choices.