Organize Your Shopping List By Aisle

We have all heard that you should make a list before heading to the grocery store, but that list needs to make sense, or you'll spend your whole time running back and forth through the store. I make my list according to the pattern I follow while shopping.


I start on the perimeter of the store, usually in fresh produce. I follow the perimeter and than go up and down the aisles. I am able to focus on my list and not on all the stuff I don't need to buy. Than when I get to the checkout, I try and place like items together while unloading the cart, so that when I get home I can easily put things away. Put your coupons in order the same way so you don't forget to use one.

By Lydia from Silverdale, WA

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 846 Posts
September 7, 20100 found this helpful

A good common sense tip to share. :-)


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 171 Feedbacks
September 8, 20100 found this helpful

Brilliant! Thanks!

September 8, 20101 found this helpful

This is a great tip. I have done this for years. It saves a lot of time. I shop at 2 stores and have asked the managers of each to print off a sort of a combination map/shopping list form of the store, columns by aisle showing aisle contents at the top, just like the signage above the aisle, ex. soup, pasta, coffee. They won't do it because they want us to "impulse buy"! So I made my own and copied off a small stack I keep in the kitchen drawer.


Maybe some grocery managers are reading this. Give us a break and help us out!

September 8, 20100 found this helpful

I've done this also, but its a pain when they decide to rearrange the store.

September 8, 20100 found this helpful

I have done this for years! It's a great tip, hope you win!


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 189 Feedbacks
September 8, 20100 found this helpful

I try to do this too, helps save time.

June 22, 20110 found this helpful

You can organize your shopping list aisle by aisle at

February 28, 20230 found this helpful

I want to preface this with a bit more information for you so you can understand why we are so aggressive with our cash, and how I had to retrain my husband to shopping for groceries aisle by aisle. We are in our late 60's and both still working.


Firstly, we are ardent 'cash stuffers'. If you're unfamilliar with the term, each pay cycle, we each have a specific amount of money that we have to put into a nice book that we've made containing envelopes. Each envelope is dedicated to a specific item we need to play each month. Our electricity, phone, and other monthly utilities are automatically paid for online (something that was challenging for two folks in their 60's with very little idea of how to do it). But we put cash away for things like groceries ($30 a week, in the unacknowledged recession of 2023, where, two weeks ago eggs were an unreal $4.99 a dozen. I know it's going to get much worse as the bird flu starts to take off in the spring and summer!), things like an emergency fund for house repairs (Never ever underestimate how important it is to keep money aside for times when your hot water heater, stove and refrigerator will all decide to die in the same month!), and weekly money for each of us for little splurges (a Firm $10 each!). You can make up an envelope for anything. It's amazing how much you are unaware of just how fast your cash flies out the door until you try doing this!!). You just put every bill on paper (there will be variables such as heat in the winter and so on; you add up every bill from last year, divide by 12, then you can either split it up between both of your incomes, or one person does the electric bill and the other takes the cable bill. You just do what works for you). You can Google it or use the free resources at your local library to learn more, and many churches now offer adult financial literacy courses -you don't need to even be a member to take one!


Next, we're both, I guess you could say 'old fashioned', we still stick to the gender roles of the era of our parents; he does the handyman chores, the lawn, and I take care of the cooking and laundry, together we tackle the cleaning. This will become important in a little bit, I'm just trying to give you some background so that you're able to see why we had to take such a circuitous path.

I have cancer and early on, I realized that I would have to teach my husband how to cope with doing the shopping, otherwise I'd end up with a couple bags of chips, freshly made hot wings (the expense!), and liters of soda, or worse, when I really needed good nutrition, we'd be eating frozen dinners or delivery, which, with all of the medical bills coming in, would put us even further into the hole.


How could I have such little faith in my husband's abilities you ask? Early on in the whole Covid nightmare, I had no choice but to send him out for groceries. He came home with half of what I sent him out for. His excuse? He "couldn't find it".

You may be thinking to yourself that I must have married a caveman! He is a product of the 1950's, which means that it was normal for a man to drive to a grocery store, but they rarely entered one. His parents were terrific people, but that was just the way things were.

So here I was, physically exhausted from cancer and just before I started radiation treatments. I knew that if we were going to survive, I'd have to give him a crash course in how to 'hunt for food' my way. I got one of the store maps, my shopping list (I already was making one out by the aisles already). I hopped on to an electric cart (I looked suspicious, since I was in my 50's and didn't look ill yet, so I got a lot of dirty looks from other shoppers until my hair fell out) and proceeded to teach my husband how to look for a good bargain.


I showed him how I made out the list aisle by aisle, how to compare prices and look for the unit pricing, and most importantly, how to sniff out the clearance deals (my local store hides the deals on bread and pastry in one area and scratch and dent cans in another area).

It was very hard for him to get the hang of things. He'd simply been left at home with his father and 3 younger brothers (I do get why they were never taught to shop - imagine how chaotic it would be to have 4 boys running wild and getting into God knows what!).

I tried getting him to zero in on ONLY the store brand, but he was adamant that the name brand was superior in taste (I even splurged and bought a store brand and a name brand and made him try one of each and pick out the best one - I won on everything except for bacon. You just can't fake Hickory Farms and Jimmy Dean!).

We trained together for two months. I showed him how to pick good produce, the difference between shopping high and low in the aisles and NEVER buying anything at eye level. He was ready to fly solo and just in time for the radiation treatments.

It was a disaster! He 'couldn't locate' the same thing that I'd been showing him for eight weeks (they moved the dressing he liked to a lower shelf to accommodate a new range of products). Then he got a sweet tooth at the day-old rack and blew $10 on danish, doughnuts and pie - don't get me wrong, it was tasty and he was trying to help me regain the 22 lbs I'd recently lost to the cancer effect, but I'm working on a very tight budget. He ended up having to put back the eggs, flour, margarine and a few other necessities that week. Lesson learned.

Back to the drawing board I went. He had new rules to play by now. I would write out the aisle number, how far down the aisle the item was, and some landmarks so he knew what to look near in order to find what I needed. I would specifically write out the full name (I never knew how many variations you can find of an item, I simply stuck to what I knew). He also had to ask for help from employees and even fellow shoppers (he's VERY shy and reserved). And he was charged with looking for each product within a 3' radius, since many times it will be moved around to make room for a new range of products. He came back with nearly every item I had budgeted for for that week (they were only missing one item, due to a run on the item thanks to a sale, but, he actually got me a rain check for the limit, which meant that once they restocked, I was able to get six items for the price of three items!

Now, I am through with the radiation treatments, and we now have two people who are able to get through the weekly shopping, which means that we can switch off. And he definitely understands how important it is to shop only in the outer perimeter of the store and aisle by aisle only when necessary. He'll be able to do the shopping by himself if my condition worsens.

Now, if I only had a plan to help teach him how to do the housework... Any suggestions?

He now knows how to compare prices, budget and keep track of where he is with how much he has in the cart. He only dives into the center of the store for a few items. And most importantly, he takes our Price Book with him to edit prices and compare the sales. That Price Book has saved me from many foolish purchases and wanting to stay within the boundaries of the limited cash he has to spend, it makes it easier to keep ahead of the game!

It's worked, up to a point. This was around the time we became aware of Instacart. Once we found a local store had signed up, we excitedly dove straight into it. Once the tedium of looking for each product, finding it, and learning how to compare prices and get the best deal was accomplished, we had both learned together. My husband is a technical kind of guy, so it really appealed to him much more than it did for me.

October 18, 20230 found this helpful

Dear Anonymous,
Please accept my prayers for your continued healing and health! I'm going through everything that you are at this time and I want to congratulate you on one of the best articles I've read here!

My husband is 67 and I'm 56, so I know how hard you had to work on getting him into the grocery store, let alone how to hunt for bargains once he was faced with all of the choices once he was there. I've also noticed that as the eldest of four boys, he was rarely taken into a store as well (they are wonderful fathers, but as boys they were hellions!). When I'd talked him into shopping with me before the diagnosis, it was like hunting with the Game Warden! He couldn't wait to get out of the store and put half of the shopping back because he didn't think that we 'needed it'. <sigh>.

I used the same methods you used to try to train him, and he wasn't allowed to say that they were out of something until he secured a rain check. We were going broke just trying to keep up with the co pays for every office visit and don't get me started on all of the meds! I signed up for every single patient support benefits I could find, and it wasn't until a kind RN at the hospital asked me if I knew about the Federal Income bracket that we got some serious help with the outrageous hospital bills.

Instacart was great until I noticed that my Price Book and that week's bill didn't tally up at Aldi's. They added anywhere from 3-12% on every item, plus the fee for shopping for groceries and then they charged for bags, putting as few as 4-5 items into each bag!! Dirty pool!! I gave up on that pretty quickly after I figured that game out!

But Aldi's was the easiest way to teach him how to pick up the ONE can of tomato soup that I lived on for months because I couldn't stand to keep anything else down, and he was just not ready yet to face the 20+ choices of tomato soup that Wal-Mart has. He still didn't understand that buying their Great Value brand versus the Campbell brand wasn't the best choice. I was getting there, just not as fast as my disease was overtaking my body.

Next came Meal Planning. I gathered together the 30 most basic recipes that I had found. Things that had no more than 5 items (not including spices) and could easily be made in a skillet or better yet a crockpot where he learned how to 'dump-and-go'. I had really great success with those because he enjoyed watching cooking shows on PBS. Everything had an up to date recipe card with the price's for everything (most of these cards I wrote out during a three day hospital stay when my blood levels tanked during treatment) so that he could know how expensive a dish was, and not surprisingly, we both found that we enjoyed the cheapest meals, and he was happy as a clam knowing that he could dress them up with a few changes in seasoning. I'm adding to these dishes slowly so he can try new things to keep him interested, and he's free to make the selections for the next week based off of the loss leaders on sale between Aldi's, Wal-Mart and our local Giant Eagle.

As far as the housework, he cycles through the 12 tasks during the week (it's just the two of us). I've got those written down on a dry erase board (I wrote the tasks in sharpie so he just takes the dry erase marker and crosses it out so he knows what he needs to do. He's got most of the basics down pretty well and he's learned the basics of laundry, so I'm happy with his progress.

The only trouble we've got is all of the stash books, which I think are too complicated for him. I'm looking for some easy online banking program where he can learn how to move the money we get around to the various "pots" to spend or save. Anyone know of a good simple program out there that would help?


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