Grocery List Ideas You NEED to Simplify Meal Planning

Grocery List Ideas You NEED to Simplify Meal Planning

Today we’re going to discuss the best grocery list ideas to keep you organized and make your weekly (or monthly!) meal planning and grocery shopping so much quicker!

We all know that feeling of walking into the grocery store without a list, mind racing, clock ticking, and trying to remember what you need and choosing meals as you push your cart around the store. It’s awful! Not only do you waste more time walking around the store (and then inevitably back-tracking), you also end up buying a bunch of food you don’t need and missing some items you actually need. Been there, and never going back!

But, if you’re like me, you want to simplify and create sustainable processes that make creating the weekly grocery list process even simpler.

So, here are my 3 best grocery list ideas to make your meal planning easier.

1. Create a Master Grocery List

The concept of creating a master grocery list has been a game-changer for myself and so many families that I know. No more starting with a blank list–now you have a template you can use over and over again.

What is a master grocery list?

A master grocery list is similar to a grocery list template–a list of commonly used essentials that you don’t want to run out of. Each household’s master grocery list will look different depending on your family’s tastes and nutritional needs. Aside from the usual staples of milk, bread, and eggs, for us this also includes:

  • Pesto
  • Olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Goldfish (if you know, you know)

This master list can be as detailed or simplified as you want. Regardless, the list will be so helpful each time you sit down to create a new grocery list for the week as you can quickly check what items you are low on or completely out of.

2. Create a Favorite Foods List

I have a few favorite foods lists that hang on my fridge to inspire me when it comes to weekly meal planning. Jotting down our family’s favorite meals (or collecting recipe cards or digitally saving your favorite recipes, if that’s more your thing) helps save mental bandwidth when you need to figure out what to feed your family each week. Now, we simply grab the lists, choose a couple of meals we’d like that week, and write down the necessary ingredients on our weekly grocery list.

Here is an example of how I’ve structured our favorite foods list:

  • A list of clean eating meals we actually like and are easy (for when we want to be healthy but lack the drive to discover something new). A few examples on this list include:
  • A list of kid-friendly meals my kids are excited to eat. A few examples on this list include:
  • A list of healthy snacks I want on hand for the kids or us adults. My kids always need a snack so this helps eliminate me having to figure out each week what to have on hand that’s relatively good for them and that they’ll be satisfied with. These may also be listed on your master grocery list, so you don’t need to duplicate them if so.

For us this includes:

  • Cheese sticks
  • Carrots & cucumbers
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Gogurts

3. Categorize Your Grocery List

If you work best with a notepad and pen, the best way to set up your grocery list is to create zones, or categories.

Option 1: organize your list into store categories. Think of headings like Produce, Dairy, Frozen, Dry Goods, Canned Items, etc. Listing similar items together will make sure you don’t miss anything when you’re shopping in that area.

Option 2: color-code your list into store categories. This is the easiest method for me. I write everything on my list that we need, then grab my highlighters and color-code the list based on the same categories as above.

Examples of Grocery Store List Categories

  • Meat + Seafood
  • Rice, Noodles, Bread
  • Oils, Sauces, Dressings, Condiments
  • Cereals
  • Soups + Canned Goods
  • Baking
  • Spices
  • Frozen Foods
  • Dairy + Eggs
  • Snacks + Crackers
  • Produce
  • Drinks
  • House Supplies

Knowing exactly which items you need to grab in each area of the store will make your grocery shopping time super efficient, plus you can also easily see which items may be duplicated based on recipes.

The Best Grocery List Apps

Not a pen-and-paper kinda gal? No sweat! Here are the top grocery list apps we recommend:

  • AnyList
  • Our Groceries
  • Amazon’s Alexa paired with Amazon Fresh

If you’re looking for fresh food inspiration for your meal planning, join our monthly membership at We’d love to help you get excited to get in the kitchen!

Happy grocery shopping!




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