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How (and Why) to Create a Shopping Map of Your Grocery Store

Woman shopping using a list and map on her phone
George Rudy/Shutterstock

You’ve probably found yourself roaming all of the aisles of the grocery store, even the ones you don’t need items in, at least once. Or, you forget something and have to backtrack through half of the store. A shopping map will rescue you from both of these scenarios.

Why You Need a Shopping Map

Not all grocery stores are designed the same, and even two stores with the same name may have items in a different area. You need shopping maps for each of the grocery stores you frequent just to save you time.

When grocery day rolls around, it’s easy to spend an hour or more wandering the aisles to get all of the stuff on your grocery list. It’s time-consuming. It’s also easy to forget where something is, even when you’ve shopped in that particular grocery store for years—especially if it’s an item you rarely purchase.

A shopping map will:

  • Cut down the overall time you spend inside the grocery store
  • Cuts down on stress—you’re in and out faster, with less wasted time
  • Helps you remember where all of the stuff you need is located in the store without making extra trips back to aisles you’ve already been in.

Let’s take a look at how you can create a more traditional shopping list-style map as well as take advantage of apps to help guide your shopping trip.

How to Create a Shopping Map

There was once a time when you actually needed to create a handwritten list of the aisles in your grocery stores, followed by writing down the items found in each of those aisles. If you’re old school or don’t have a smartphone, this is still a valid option and if you prefer paper lists you can certainly stick with them.

Digital options (even if you end up printing off the end result) are a lot more flexible and easier to sort and update, however. For a basic shopping map of your grocery store, you need a spreadsheet. Google Drive works great since it’s easily accessible from your smartphone (or you can print a copy if you want). Here’s how we’d recommend you approach creating your spreadsheet.

You can take notes on the layout of the store on your next visit, or you may even find that the store you shop at has a map online you can reference for the general categories. Target, for example, has store maps on their website you can access by searching for your local location in their store finder.

Layout of a Target store
Target

Start by listing the aisles and major sections you visit. It’s especially helpful to list the sections in the order you would visit them making your way around the store in a particular fashion such as front to back or clockwise. For example, if your grocery store has a huge produce section by the front door, a sidewall with meats, a back wall with dairy, and then twelve central aisles, you might make your spreadsheet column headings: Produce, Meat, Dairy, Aisle 12, Aisle 11, and so on if you normally travel along the wall and then forward through the aisles.

Under the aisle listings, list the items (mainly the stuff you shop for, like bread and butter) in each respective aisle column. You don’t need specific brand names, just the general title of what you shop for in that section. Include what’s on the end caps if you shop those (which can change weekly).

shopping list in excel

Now you have a map, of sorts, that will get you through grocery shopping faster than normal. When the store moves things around, do a few quick edits to your list.

You may want to consider drawing an actual map of the store if you’re handy with blueprints or have drawing skills. A floorplan can help direct you through the store even better than a list.

There’s Also an App for That

If you prefer a swifter way of mapping your grocery store, there is an app for that. Shops by Aisle411 not only has maps for thousands of stores, but you can also find the exact items you’re looking for at those stores. The app gives you the specific section and aisle to go to for the groceries you need.

The Aisle411 app interface on multiple devices
Aisle411

One of the great benefits of this app is that you can type in the items you need and the app will let you know which store near you actually carry that item. No more searching the actual aisles of numerous grocery stores to find the products you need. While some stores have mobile apps that help pinpoint the location of an item down to the aisle (such as the Target mobile app), many stores don’t have apps at all or apps with that level of item location, let alone cross-store searching.


Whether you choose to map out your favorite stores by hand with a paper list, create a spreadsheet you print off or read right from your phone, or use a dedicated app for it, you’ll enjoy much smoother shopping trips armed with a good sense of where everything is.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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