8 Steps to Write an Epic Shopping List

We all know that you’re going to have a much better trip to the grocery store if you go in with a shopping list. In my last post I taught you how to write a basic shopping list using the Wants vs. Needs layout. Now I’m going to teach you how to supercharge your shopping list to streamline your shopping trip to give you the fastest shopping trip possible.

1. Create a Map of Your Store

It doesn’t have to be anything super detailed but make a sketch of the different departments in your store. Take note of the order of the grocery aisles. Take some pictures or write it out the next time you are out shopping. You’ll feel super creepy taking pictures but everyone will probably just assume you’re a mystery shopper. 

8 Steps to Write an Epic Shopping List

2. Plan a Route Through the Store

You want to create a route that avoids backtracking as much as possible. My local Walmart contains both general merchandise and groceries. I recommend always starting with the non-food items. However you don’t want to walk through any department that you don’t need anything from. This will just lead to impulse purchases. Don’t even think about walking down that clearance aisle. 

For the most part I only need groceries. In that case I would go in the door next to the grocery aisles and make my way toward the back of the store grabbing what I needed from each aisle I went past. I would get my frozen foods, dairy, and then work my way around the outside wall which has all of the refrigerated foods. I would end in the produce department so none of it gets squished. 

If I needed stuff like shampoo or toothpaste then I would hit the health and beauty department first and then go over and do the groceries. If I need anything else in the store I adjust my list accordingly. 
8 Steps to Write an Epic Shopping List

3. Create Your Shopping List Based on Your Map

This is why grocery list printables are a great place to start, but not actually the best option out there. You see the printables are organized by how your home is organized. Fridge, freezer, pantry, produce, other. 

Grocery stores are not so straightforward. They are designed to confuse you so you buy stuff you don’t really need, or didn’t plan to buy. In my grocery store the refrigerator items line the entire outer wall of the grocery department. For some reason the crackers and cookies are in between some of the freezers aisles while the other snacks are on the complete other end of the store by the produce. 

I forgot to draw it on my map but cleaning supplies and paper products are smack in the middle of the food aisles. So, so annoying. 

So create a new shopping list based on the map you made. You can plug all of the items from your printable list into the list based on your store. 

4. Meal Plan and Budgeting

If at all possible you should plan out your meals while you’re making your shopping list, or vice versa. This helps you know if you really need something, or if it can wait until next week.

This is a great time to take your budget into account. Take a look at how much your favorite meals cost in ingredients. Buying all of the ingredients for Taco night can cost you over $20. You can get a take and bake (or frozen) pizza for around $5-8 or make Hamburger Helper for less than $5. Mac and Cheese and Steamed Veggies for around $2.50. 

5. Check Local Ads, Coupons, and Rebates

If you’re just starting out, you should write your list and then check for deals only on the items on your list. If you feel comfortable you aren’t going to impulse purchase you can build your shopping list around current deals. Do not buy anything just because it is on sale. You’re still spending money.

Oftentimes these deals will overlap. You may find a coupon for an item that’s already on sale. (Right now my walmart has $0.50 off packs of trident gum that are marked down to $0.65 from $0.95. Making them just $0.15. How’s that for a deal. Sometimes coupons line up with rebates, or my rebates will line up with other rebates. 

Mark down any rebates on your shopping list. Some rebate apps give you the ability to check if an item qualifies. You’ll want to do this so you don’t purchase something thinking it will qualify when it doesn’t. 


I get all of my coupons from I used to buy the newspaper but clipping coupons just ended up being more work than I wanted to do. I like being able to print just the ones I want. 


I love using Ibotta for rebates. You buy an item on the list upload your receipt and it adds it to your account. Once you hit twenty bucks you can cash out through paypal or get an egiftcard to one of the stores on the list. If you use my referral link (or referral code 9zxqfw) and create a new account and redeem a rebate within the first week you’ll get a $10 bonus. That’s free money and it puts you halfway to cashing out. I will receive $5 for referring you. 

Saving Star

Saving Star lets you redeem rebates even without a smartphone. You can upload receipts through a scanner or digital image online. You can also connect rewards cards and get some rebates automatically. The payout threshold is only $5 so it’s a lot easier to get your money back. You can cash out to paypal or select gift cards. They also offer “one or many” deals. For example, Purex laundry detergent. You get a span of several weeks to buy $15 worth of qualified products. The you get $4 back as the rebate. 

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 has an ever expanding selection of rebates. I keep finding the weirdest things on there. Right now the one at the top of the list is $0.50 off a pack of orange tic tacs. The payout threshold is $20 but they send you an actual paper check. 

6. Do Not Deviate From the List

If it’s not on the list don’t buy it. You made the list for a reason. If there are things you want, notice the word want, create a new list for your next shopping trip. 

7. Eat Before Shopping to Prevent Impulse Purchases

The layout of the grocery store is designed to trick you into making impulse purchases. Red signs to raise your adrenaline, yellow to trigger the “get it before it’s gone” feeling. The tunnel of candy and magazines you have to walk through to get to the checkout. Make sure you eat some food or at least have a snack before walking into the store. Drink some water (most feelings of hunger are actually thirst). This will help you stick to your list. You aren’t here to browse, you’re here to complete your list. 

8. Make a Specific Trip for Browsing

Need a cute new outfit for girl’s night out? Make a trip specifically to look for it. Don’t try to do it during your regular shopping trip. You’ll just get stressed out. 

8 Steps to Write an Epic Shopping List

How do you stick to your shopping list? Let me know in the comments. 


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