Grocery Shopping Spreadsheet

Yesterday I went grocery shopping with The Belle, which for some reason always seems like an “outing” to me, that I need to gear up for and prepare.  Toys? Check.  Snacks? Check.  More snacks. Check, check.  She’s an incredibly good little one, so it always ends up going smoother than I anticipate, but the logistics of the whole thing are certainly more involved than they used to be pre-Belle…

When it was just Mike and me, I was really good about cooking.  (Not a good cook, just good at getting something edible on the table each night.  I wouldn’t even call what I do cooking, more recipe following.  I have never “whipped up” a meal in my life, but I can follow a recipe with the best of them.)  I had my little routine down.  On Sundays I would go through my recipe binder and pick out three meals for the week.  Three was usually enough since we were never home on weekends (before Annabelle we were constantly on the go), and with only two people eating, there were always leftovers to fill in the other days.  I would make my list and on Mondays do the grocery shopping for the week.  I was so kooky about the whole thing that I actually put what we were having for dinner in my calendar so I would know what the plan was each night.  (I can tell you what we ate for dinner on October 9, 2008.  I kid you not.  Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage Soup and a spinach salad.  And yes, I am aware that this is a little insane.)  And I loved it.  I loved the order of it, the routine.

And then Annabelle arrived and I somehow let it all slide.  Dinners became a mishmosh of what was in the house, which wasn’t usually much.  Shopping with a baby like I used to shop seemed so daunting, not to mention that in those early days I was so tired that a nap always took precedence over cooking any type of dinner.  I remember one night when Annabelle was about six weeks old, Mike came home and I proudly told him that I had made chicken for dinner.  I was so excited that I had made something and that we were not going to (again) be ordering take out. When we sat down we both quickly realized that I had in fact made chicken…and nothing else.  On the table in front of us sat a lonely plate of chicken.  It seemed my ability to cook a complete meal had evaporated.

Shopping with Annabelle in those first few months meant buying whatever could fit in the bottom of her snap ‘n go, which although it can hold a lot for a little stroller, does not a proper trip to the grocery store make.  (I once tried putting her car seat directly in the shopping cart, but that wasn’t very successful.  I mean, look at the poor little thing!)

So, the days when Annabelle would be with Mike or my mom, and I would get to go to the grocery store alone and use “the big girl cart” felt like when you walk into math class in high school and realize that you have a sub.  Freedom.  I would throw things in that cart with reckless abandonment.  It was like I was hoarding up for a blizzard.  Who knew when I would get out again and be able to buy 15 cans of black beans?

Now that Annabelle is older, she can sit in the basket of the big girl cart and I can fit a lot more than my snap n’ go days, but the trip always seems to have a time limit on it.  Gone are the days of being able to stroll down the aisles imagining the week’s meals.  Now I want to get in, get what I need, and get out.  Which leads me to something I used to use in my meal planning days that I hadn’t broken out in awhile, but now, more than ever needs to be dusted off.  I’m taking about…are you ready?…my Grocery Shopping Spreadsheet.

Wait, don’t roll your eyes just yet…let me explain.  It’s cool, I promise.

Ok, so it’s not cool at all, but it’s handy.  Yup, handy.

Back in the day I created a Grocery Shopping Spreadsheet, which has a column for each aisle in my local grocery store along with a heading on what is in that aisle and a place for me to write all the things I need.  When I write out my list I put what I need in the appropriate column.  Then when I get to the store I am able to (ready?) not only go through the store only once (no going back for forgotten items) but I’m also able to skip over all the aisles that don’t have things down them that I need.  See…handy!  I know it seems a little over the top but I can tell you with the utmost certainty that this little spreadsheet saves me a ton of time.  And with a tiny one hanging out in the big girl shopping cart, moving quickly is what I want to do.

So, for your shopping pleasure, I’m attaching the spreadsheet. I know, you can hardly contain your excitement, right!?  Obviously everyone’s grocery store is set up differently so you will need to customize the list to fit your local shop. When I created mine I brought a blank spreadsheet and went through the whole store copying down the heading of each aisle.  Are you imagining how cool I must have looked?  Then I typed the headings in and voila, I had my list.  (I always leave a miscellaneous section in case, when I’m making my list, I can’t figure out which aisle something would be down.  Then the next time I go to the store, and find it, I add it to the heading for the aisle it’s in.)  I keep a little stack of these spreadsheets in the cabinet by my fridge so I can grab them when needed.  It takes a little bit of time to customize it, but it’s worth it.  I promise.  Stick it up on your fridge and give it a whirl for a week.  I guarantee you’ll be addicted.

By the way, when I headed for the check out today I noticed signs that indicated which aisles are candy free.  I made a mental note since this info will certainly come in handy one day.  But since Annabelle doesn’t know what candy is yet, it seemed safe to pick a line chock full of goodies.  I will tell you, this is no longer a good idea.  She may not know what candy is, but the girl does seem to know that Tic Tacs make a fabulous rattle.

Click the link below to download and create your own Grocery Shopping Spreadsheet.  Come on.  You know you want to…

Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons’ Grocery Shopping Spreadsheet

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  1. Illanna says:

    What a useful tool! I can definitely relate to hoarding when shopping alone. My grandmother did the same thing, sort of, and I continued it. She just has the store memorized and would make a list in that order. I can remember where the produce, meat, and frozen is, and then I usually forget everything in the middle. I’m lucky that Desi loves going to the grocery store, because we end up going several times a week. Now his new thing is he unloads the cart. He can reach in from his seat and put the groceries on the conveyor belt. It’s actually very helpful, and he enjoys it. I will definitely print out the spreadsheet! Thank you!

  2. But Kelly – now you can’t play the game with Annabelle that we used to play – to see how successful we were in going through the store just once and getting everything we needed WITHOUT a spreadsheet!

    • Very true…But I remember playing that game when I was about 7…I don’t think Annabelle’s quite ready for that one yet!

  3. Christie says:

    love it.. i am going to make it since my obsessive compulsive husband will love it!! Thankfully Daniella like going food shopping with me and Jamesy( He rides in the baby bjorn..let me tell you I must look pretty darn cool) I let her sign for the credit card…thinking that might be trouble later but oh well! I get a kick out of it

  4. My husband has been talking for years about doing up spreadsheet for our local grocery store. I just showed him your post and now we’re inspired to do it again. Just recently I made a fool-proof 14 day meal-plan. It works because I made it in retrospect. I monitored a month of eating and then wrote down the 14 fail-safes. Previous attempts at meal-planning never really worked because I was including ‘glamorous’ or ‘complex’ dishes we’d never tried before. It has made my life unbelievably easier.

    Oh & my almost 3yr old is still oblivious to lollies…it’s the toy aisle where I get the tantrum. Sigh

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