Creating a grocery list might seem like an easy thing to do, but how many times have you gotten home from the shops only to realise you forgot at least three things you told yourself you’d definitely remember to get? We’ve all been there, and it’s frustrating to say the least.
There’s an art to creating a great grocery list, and it’s not something that’s taught in school (but definitely should be). But fear not, today we’re your teachers and we’ll be teaching you all of our tips and tricks for creating a grocery list for meal prepping success.
Grab your glasses and your notebook – meal prepping school is in session.
Tips for Creating a Grocery List
1. Do a fridge/freezer/pantry inventory
|Running Low||Plenty Of|
|Greens (lettuce and kale)||Stock|
|Lemons||Salt & pepper|
|BBQ sauce||Tuna cans|
Before creating a shopping list, you need to take stock of what you have. From your fridge to freezer and pantry, take stock of it all (including things like herbs, spices, stock etc.) If you have food that’s expiring soon, we recommend finding a recipe you can make to use up the nearly-expired food to prevent food waste. You can also split the inventory into two with “ Running Low” and “Plenty Of”.
2. Find a Grocery List App That Works for You
You can use an app for your grocery list, or pen and paper. And look, we’re not judging if you want to kick it old school with pen and paper, but digital grocery lists are so much handier. Plus, with a digital list you’ll always have it on you (because we always have a phone on us, right?) You won’t run the risk of leaving the paper list at home or in the car. Digital lists are also handy if you have illegible handwriting (don’t we all?) From the notes app on your phone to dedicated grocery list apps, find one that works for you and stick to it.
3. Categorise Your List
An easy way to create a shopping list is by categorising it. Here’s how we’d recommend doing it, but you can easily create your own categories based on the layout of your grocery store. This will help you keep on track and get everything on your list from each section of the store.
|Fruit & Veg||Potatoes x 4, Apples x 6, Bananas x 4, Avos x 2, Zucchini x 3|
|Bakery||Loaves of bread x 2, Gluten-free bread x 1, Bread Rolls x 6|
|Deli||300g ham, 300g turkey, 200g shredded chicken|
|Meat/seafood/dairy||500g steak, Chicken thighs, 1kg frozen prawns, Cheddar cheese, Milk, Almond milk|
|Canned goods||Tuna x 5, Baked beans x 4, Chickpeas x 1, Peaches x 4|
|Snacks||Crackers Chocolate, Protein balls|
|Frozen food||Spinach, Pastry, Berries, Ice-cream|
|Miscellaneous||Paper towels, Glad Wrap, Foil, Garbage bags|
4. Tick off Items as You Go
Ticking off your list as you go is really just a good visual reminder of what you’ve added to your trolley already so you don’t double up. This is especially important if you’re doing a big shop and might forget what you’ve already added to your trolley. There’s also a sense of achievement when ticking things off a list!
How to Stick to Your Grocery List (& Avoid Impulse Buying)
Making a grocery list will help avoid impulse buying and in turn save you money because when you stick to your list, you’re only buying what you actually need. And look, actually sticking to your grocery list is an art and it takes discipline.
At first, you might find it difficult not to pop in an extra bag of chips or something that’s on sale. But if you practise just sticking to your list and nothing else, eventually it’ll become like second nature.
It’s also worthwhile mentioning just because something’s on sale, doesn’t mean you need to stock up. Did you really need a 24 pack of Coke Zero just because it’s half price? Try not to buy according to sales – just stick to your list. If you shop based on what’s on sale, you’ll probably end up spending more than you need and buying things you don’t actually need as well. Impulse buys can feel significant at first, but it starts to add up at the register.
The Benefits of Creating a Grocery List
There are plenty of benefits to taking the extra time to create a grocery list. With time and practice, we promise, it’ll become like second nature and a vital part of your weekly routine.
- Save time: Making a grocery list saves time because you won’t be wandering around the shops trying to figure out what you need. It keeps you focused and gets you in and out of the store much quicker.
- Save money: Keeping track of what you actually need to buy means you’ll be less likely to overspend (or double up on items you already have). You’ll also be less likely to impulse buy which will save you money.
- Lower stress: Rushing around the store trying to remember what you need is stressful (especially during peak shopping hour). A good grocery list is like a map, breaking down the sections/aisles you need and making the whole experience much easier and less stressful.
- Reduce food waste: No one likes throwing away food if they can help it – and grocery lists are one of the best ways to take stock of what you have and avoid overbuying and double up.
- Good for your health: A grocery list is one of the best ways to stay on top of your nutrition and make sure you’re eating a balanced and healthy diet.
Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
Meal planning: Planning out your meals 5 days or a week in advance can help you save on groceries because you know what you need to buy and will be less likely to impulse buy. It’s often more cost-effective to buy ingredients for a couple of different meals, batch cook those meals and then rotate them during the week.
Bulk buy: Bulk buying can save you money, but only if you do it right. On one hand, buying in bulk can really cut down the cost of your shopping list, but did you really need a 50 pack of toilet paper? Do you have the room to store it? Did you need two bottles of olive oil because it was 2 for the price of 1? If you have the room, bulk buying (non-perishables) is a great way to save money, but only if it’s actually something you need. If you have tuna on your list, and there’s 10 cans for the price of 5 and you have the pantry space, well, it’s your lucky day. But don’t just buy something in bulk because you can.
Shop sales items: Sale items are a great way to save money, but again, only if you actually needed that item. Chicken on sale because it’s expiring soon? Awesome, add it to your trolley and chuck it in your freezer. And look, if you don’t have plans to make a chicken dish this week but know you’ll probably be making one next week, it’s ok to buy the chicken in advance because it’s on sale. But just don’t buy for the sake of buying because it’s cheap.
Shopping online: Online shopping is a great way to save money too as there are often discounts to be found online only, and it also makes it easy to compare prices of similar products. The homebrand/storebrand is often just as good as big-name brand items, so don’t be scared to choose the homebrand item to save money.
Buy produce whole: It might be tempting to buy mushrooms pre-sliced or ready-to-roast pumpkin pieces, but this will typically cost a lot more than buying the produce whole. Yes it saves time having it pre-cut, but the higher price tag isn’t always worth it.
Grocery List Templates & Resources (Apps)
- Canva grocery templates
- Reddit grocery spreadsheet
- Pinterest grocery list templates
- AnyList app
- OurGroceries app
- Out of Milk app
Keep Reading Meal Prepping Tips:
- How to plan meals in advance
- How to create a grocery list
- How to incorporate variety into your meals