Why my grocery list is in Excel

We all have 24 hours a day. What you do with your time can feel crazy and out of control. Or you can grab the reins and choose the work you want to get done.

That being said, getting organized is best done in baby steps. Save 5 minutes here and 20 minutes there, and pretty soon you have time to think. Or time to start an exciting new project. Or time to relax and zen out for a bit!

And that’s why my grocery list is in Excel.

First, let me say that I will put off grocery shopping until I am down to eating dry soup and crackers. It’s not that I dislike groceries, I just don’t like grocery shopping – with the shopping carts that never get washed. The people who park their carts in the middle of an aisle as they ponder a purchase. The cashiers who talk to the baggers about how tired they are and how they can’t wait to get off work. It’s a little draining so I try to be really quick about it.

I start by setting up a list of everything I tend to buy at the grocery store. Then I sort the list to match the aisle order of one grocery story – I choose one where the cashiers and baggers seem to like their jobs.

My list includes a header with the aisle name and number for easy scanning, followed by the 5-6 items I tend to buy in that aisle. Setting up the list in store-order takes a little brainstorming about what you tend to buy and a bit of detective work at the store to get the aisles right, but your efforts will pay off every time you shop.

Once my list is complete, I copy and paste it to fit 4 grocery lists on one page to save on printing. I print out a page, fold it into quarters, and stash it in a small magnet “bin” on a bulletin board in the kitchen. As I get close to running out of an item, I find the item on the list and highlight it. I do have write-ins, of course. If they become the norm, they get typed into a future list.

When my list is long enough, or I am very nearly out of food, or if there is some essential thing I’m out of (Greek yogurt!), I head to the store. If my list is short, I skip the shopping cart and shop directly to cloth bags. This gives me the incentive to not buy too much and it can be a good upper-body workout! Not having a cart also saves time moving up and down the aisles and I don’t have to touch those shopping cart handles.

When I’m at the store, I only go down the aisles where I have an item highlighted which also saves time and reduces impulse buying. That being said, I love buying at least one new thing every time I shop. So my eyes are peeled – what tasty item will I find in this treasure trove of food that has never been on my list…

AND I will add that a few times a year I am out and don’t have my list and I actually have fun getting a cart and going up and down each aisle seeing what’s new. Of course, if I find something that becomes regular, it goes on the list – in aisle order.

When I started this system, it cut my grocery shopping time in half.

  • I rarely have to loop back in the store to find an item
  • I only go down about half the aisles
  • I don’t have to look at every item on the list to figure out what I need in a particular aisle
  • I can actually read my printed list (my handwriting is terrible!)
  • I don’t have to cross things off the list – when I’m done with one aisle, I move on to the next.
  • I don’t have to remember where the store shelves things like batteries or lightbulbs – things that I don’t buy often, but when I need them, I want to go right to that aisle.

Now you know a bit of the weirdness of living with me. I have gamified grocery shopping. Gooooooo organizational habits! 🙂





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