Shopping list

How to Write an Effective Shopping List – Eat This Not That

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. And that’s especially true when it comes to groceries. Without an effective shopping list and meal plan, you risk having to shop more often and wasting a lot more food. Wandering aimlessly through the aisles of the grocery store can also lead to your cart being overcrowded with unhealthy snacks and things you don’t really need, and while you’ll shell out a lot of money for a spontaneous shopping trip, you won’t end up getting the things that actually help you prepare meals during the week.

In order to write the most efficient shopping list of your life and stay on top of your pantry, fridge and freezer, follow our simple tips.


Using a grocery list app, like AnyList or Mealime, can take your writing list to the next level. “Smart grocery shoppers are trading their paper lists for digital tools like apps that integrate their grocery list and meal plan,” says Megan Boitano, Dt.P.. They’re helpful for planning by offering perks like easy access to your previous purchases and transferring ingredients from recipes directly to your shopping list. Some apps can tally the total amounts of ingredients you need in all your recipes, so you don’t overbuy, Boitano notes.

You can also check if your grocery store has its own app, notes the wellness influencer Maddie Pasquariello. Often, you can shop online and schedule curbside pickup at your favorite grocery stores through apps.

check the pantry before shopping

There are certain staples that you will always need to have on hand, from absolute staples like oil, salt, sugar, rice and spices, to staples that you like to use in simple meals like canned tuna, pasta and tomato sauce. When you start a shopping list, take stock of the items in your pantry and note the staples that need to be replenished.

To make sure you don’t forget anything, keep a small magnetic notepad on your fridge or a shopping list on your phone, and jot down items as they run out. This way you will easily remember what you need to replace in your pantry.

woman standing in front of fridge hungry and confused

Having a fully stocked kitchen means nothing unless you continually use the supplies you have and don’t let anything go to waste. Emily Bass, who runs the blog Savvy frugal mom, suggests taking inventory of what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry before deciding on your meals for the week. “Select your meals for the week based on the ingredients you already have on hand. This will help you create a very accurate grocery list to get what you need and supplement what you already have,” she says. .

woman sitting at home on laptop

If saving money is a priority and you have some flexibility with what you eat, look for weekly deals on the grocery store’s website before committing to your meal plan, says writer Stacy Caprio. for Exclusive offers. Plan to build your meals around the meats, fruits and vegetables on sale. If you notice a good deal on non-perishable items, stock up for the future. Non-perishables that you use often are a win-win and certainly won’t go to waste.

Planning out everything you’re going to eat during the week can make your grocery list foolproof and prevent overspending and food waste. If you’re super organized and like to think ahead, this is a great way to make sure you’re not buying anything you don’t need, or cluttering your kitchen and pantry with clutter. overwhelming amounts of food (a good strategy if you don’t). not much storage in the kitchen). To make an airtight meal plan, list the recipes or foods you’ll need for each breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack during the shopping week. Don’t forget to take your leftovers into account as well.

nightshade vegetables, nightshades

Another way to plan meals is to think about meal times more generally and list several items you can use for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and quick snacks. Claire Pearson, a personal trainer and wellness expert, says she likes to start her grocery list by thinking of simple items her family rotates for breakfast, items her kids can use for after-school snacks without her help and things she can use for quick weeknight dinners. If your style of cooking is more spontaneous than following an exact recipe, this type of mix and match situation may be a better fit. You know you’ll have to serve breakfast on the fly this week? Add healthy cereal, granola bars or fruit to your list. Cooking three dinners this week? List the meats or other proteins around which you will build your meals, then add vegetables or grains to the list that will complement your meals.

Get help cooking

If your family takes turns cooking, make the grocery list a collaborative effort. “I cook dinner three nights a week and my kids and my husband take turns. They have to put their grocery lists on our Alexa device and then I transfer it from there. If they don’t put it, they have to do what I choose,” Pearson said. Keeping a notepad on the fridge door can work just as well.

frozen meals in the freezer

Freezers can be the most overlooked places in our kitchen. Once something has entered it, it is easy to forget that it even exists. When making your grocery list, be sure to “shop” your freezer first. See if there’s anything you could use for your weekly meal prep, especially if an item has been there for a while and needs to be consumed. This will save you from doubling up on things you already have and wasting food you paid for.

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Roasted Apple Pie Ingredients

Sometimes the way we want to eat can take over when we shop, and that can lead to many unprofitable purchases. For example, if you want your family to eat healthier, you definitely need to buy more healthy items. But try to be as realistic as possible. If you know your kids aren’t used to reaching for the bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter, stocking up on lots of fresh fruit that spoils quickly might not be the best use of your budget. If you commit to changing your eating habits and buying something out of the ordinary, having a backup plan is a good idea. You might make an apple pie if your family doesn’t finish a crate of apples in a week. ?

Woman holding lettuce and grabbing more produce at grocery store

The best possible shopping list won’t help you if you go to the store hungry. You won’t be able to resist the bakery section, snack section, and cookie aisle no matter how hard you try.

wash the products

Every grocery list should have a fresh produce category. But when planning your meals, be sure to take into consideration how quickly fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs can go bad. Cook your produce-rich meals earlier in the week, when your vegetables and herbs (but also other fresher produce like unfrozen seafood) are still at their peak. On the other hand, if you like to have shelf-stable versions of fruits and vegetables, frozen and canned are the way to go.

Farmers sell fruits and vegetables

We all have fruits and vegetables that we like to have on hand all year round, such as carrots, avocados and broccoli. But you should also make sure to take advantage of seasonal premiums and buy fruits and vegetables that are at their best quality during the season (especially if you shop at farmers’ markets). Add a seasonal item or two to your produce list, such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers in the summer, chicory and apples in the fall, and artichokes and asparagus in the spring.

family shopping in a supermarket

Once you have a list of groceries you need, organizing them by sections or grocery aisles can save you a lot of time and hassle when maneuvering around the store. Note headings such as “Product”, “Bakery”, “Freezer”, “Meat”, “Dairy” and file your list under these headings. This way you will move around the store efficiently, without having to go back and forth from aisle to aisle.

Thinh Phan, a blogger at BBQIn progress, likes to go the extra mile and plan her entire in-store journey by ordering headers based on her grocery store layout. The produce aisle is right at the entrance, so it’s the first category on his shopping list, the bakery is next, then the meat aisle, etc. my shopping list. It saves me a lot of time and effort. I know exactly what I want. I go in and out and I don’t spend anything on unnecessary things,” she says.

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