Optimize Your Grocery List

Grocery lists are back, baby. Though for some of us, they were never gone…


A while back I published my grocery list template for healthy people. Since then, the financial market has gone down the pooper and we the people of of this glorious economy can’t afford to waste money on impulse purchases and overpriced food. Thus, grocery lists should be part of every penny-pincher’s arsenal of money-saving schemes.

A grocery list could be a simple back-of-the-envelope type affair, scribbled in haste on the drive to the supermarket. But there is a better way. My grocery list template is a start, but Sarah at Lifestyles of the Organized has even more ways you can optimize your list. Here are a few gems:

  • Keep your list visible at home so you can easily add to it when items come to mind.
  • If you keep your pantry stocked in a particular way, add items to the list to replace those you use right after you use them so you don’t forget.
  • Make your list digital for easy editing and so you can carry it with you everywhere—try a cell phone or a PDA.

Ah, but it gets better. You could also bring a pen and clipboard to the store. You might look like a dork-bot, but you’d be super efficient! You can even personalize your clipboard like Aby has on Creative Organizing.


For people like me, optimization is all about customization. So while the grocery list for healthy people is a great start, the best way to use this list is to customize it for your own food habits.

Stu of The Damp Cad sent me his version of the list. Unlike me, Stu eats meat, and it’s interesting to see how a carnivore thinks/shops/plans his food. Stu also notes that a grocery list is a window to the soul:

It reveals a healthy streak with the odd indulgence and nod to a version of myself for whom being healthy was something to be done ‘when i get older!’

Download Stu’s Grocery List Template for Healthy Meat-Eating People.

By the way, if you haven’t visited Stu’s blog, go have a look right now. Stu is a London-based runner and trainer with loads of awesome things to say about running, sports psychology, training, life, goals, et cetera. Check it out!

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11 thoughts on “Optimize Your Grocery List

  1. Sassy

    I have a magnetic pad on my fridge door that we jot stuff down on when it is used up (or close). 99% of the time, I buy roughly the same foods, so don’t *really* need it, and sometimes I don’t stick to it. Like on Sunday when I went a bit crazy in the chip (crisp) isle… I ended up with tortilla chips, potato chips, AND pita chips. *sigh* Oh well, my mister will eat most of them. 😉

  2. monica

    Yeah I usually buy the same stuff too. If I could only get good tortilla chips in London, I’d break my list every time. But they are the best delivery device for guacamole that I know of. So be it!

  3. Caspar

    Love this idea. I’m always writing out a list from scratch from what I can remember. Sometimes I save it in Google Docs so I load up an old one and check what I’ve missed once I’m finished. And occasionally I check old receipts from ordering online (which I only do occasionally, I like to go to the supermarket!) but I’m not clever enough to have actually saved a standard list with headings which I can use. Duh! I’ve got both your healthy one and this new one saved and tonight am gonna make my own in the same format. Now I’m eating healthily there is loads of stuff I know I’m going to forget – and stuff I can’t buy just once a month (previously, lots of chocolate! now, blueberries and yoghurt to go on my muesli, and those go off in under a week). Hurrah, and thanks 🙂

  4. monica

    Caspar, the Google Docs thing is not a bad hack! But I’d love to see what you do with YOUR customized grocery list. I see you love muesli – have you tried the Bircher muesli? 😉 (I’m obsessed with the stuff, FYI.)

  5. Caspar

    Not yet, I’ve only just started eating it! Used to have cereals with milk but all the health mags recommended muesli instead. I got some from Waitrose which is from ‘Rude Health’, it’s called “No flippin’ raisins”! Not that I have anything against raisins, but it has loads of other nice stuff in it (plus I add fruit anyway), they had a few other types from them so I was going to give them all a go. I’ll check out the Bircher stuff 🙂

  6. Katie

    I like the idea of a digital shopping list what a great idea. I nearly moved to internet food shopping but found it a chore as I could not control myself when ordering. I think the only way is a list but a digital list sounds much more useful. thanks.

  7. monica

    Caspar, I used to LOVE cereal too! You know what I really loved – the cereal midnight snack. I mean, I was never into the super sugary stuff. As a kid I was a chex kinda girl, sometimes honeycombs. Then later I moved to that Kashi stuff, and eventually bran flakes. But after I discovered oatmeal, I couldn’t go back. And then Bircher muesli… well, it’s hard to think of another breakfast that will surpass the Bircher. But who knows, one day I may totally flip and go savory. I suspect this will ever happen if I achieve my dream and live in India for a time, where they eat idliis and sambar for breakfast. Who knows. But back to cereal – yeah, I haven’t had cereal in forever (unless you count the cornflakes I used in the Afghan biscuits a while back).

    Curious about the Bircher you found on Waitrose… you mean their recipe?

    That looks pretty close to what I make – my god, I can’t believe I don’t have a recipe on SmarterFitter. Here goes:

    Bircher Museli (Monica Style)

    100g jumbo oats
    20g raisins
    20g almonds
    6 prunes or apricots
    10g flax seeds
    1 wedge of lemon, juiced
    1 apple, grated

    On the eve before breakfast, place the oats, raisins, almonds, prunes and flax seeds in a bowl. Add just enough filtered water to cover. Let it sit overnight in the fridge. In the morning, add the grated apple and lemon juice. Mix. Top with natural yogurt and fresh fruit (bananas and blueberries are my favorite).

  8. monica

    Katie, I do internet food shopping about once a month. But I don’t really use it for food, I use it for big stuff like 12-roll packages of toilet paper, detergent, stuff that’s a pain to haul on foot or bike. But yeah, I don’t like people picking my fruit and veg for me. And with internet shopping I ALWAYS end up buying stuff I don’t need (stupid smart computer recommendations). Still, it’s luxuery shopping from home. The supermarkets in London are always rammed.

  9. Sophie

    Grocery list shopping is such a balancing act between always having enough healthy food in so that you don’t eat rubbish, not wasting food and having the flexibility to try new foods and recipes. But I can see that it is really worthwhile getting to grips with, particularly if you are trying to eat healthily in the current financial climate. At the moment we just have a blackboard in the kitchen to jot down anything we have run out of. No wonder my husband is always complaining about how long I take to do the shopping!


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