How to organize your shopping trip

Organizing your shopping trip.

A few people have asked me how I get ready for my shopping trip every week. I thought it would be a great idea to share this information with you all – I hope you can learn something from it!

I’m not saying that this is the BEST way to shop, this is just what I do – and it works well for me.

Scan the store flyers for deals

The very first thing I do is look over all of the flyers for the stores in my area. I even check the flyers for stores I would probably never go into because I can usually just price match their stuff at Walmart. I make a list of what great deals (or just items I need to buy) are at each store. Once I’m done doing this, I make a master shopping list.

I almost always shop at least at Walmart because I can get my produce and other items here. If there’s a lot that I can price match at Zellers, I will go there as well (just to use my SPC card and get 10% off) – and just get my produce and stuff at Walmart.

Divide your shopping list into stores & categories

The next thing I do is make categories on my lists. Here’s an example of what my Walmart shopping list might look like:

2x broccoli @ .99
1x cauliflower @ .99
1x strawberries @ $1.49

4x st. ives facial scrub @ $1.00*
2x arm & hammer deodorant @ $1.49* (price match – food basics)

5X kraft salad dressing @ $1.49 each*
2x kraft peanut butter 1kg @ $2.49 (price match – price chopper)

Since I go to one particular Walmart location almost every week, I know the layout of the store pretty well. I make my list in the order of the store’s layout to make things easier for me. I always start way at the back of the store where pet supplies and baby/kid supplies are and make my way down to produce before I checkout.

Notice how I put a star beside some items? This is because I have coupons for them. This way, when I am loading my purchases onto the conveyor belt, I know which items I need to have coupons out for. You can also see that I clearly note which items I am price matching and what store the sale is at.

Pull all coupons & flyers you plan to use

I always, always, always pull out all of the coupons I plan to use at the store before I even leave the house. I hate digging around in my coupon bag & binder while I’m in the store, so I avoid it whenever possible. I organize my coupons in order of the stores I plan on shopping at, usually with a paper clip.

I also get all of the flyers I plan to use to price match together. If possible, I like to fold the flyers in advance so that they are on the page where the sale item is, to make it easier for the cashier when I am showing them what I want to price match. This doesn’t really work if you plan on price matching many things from one flyer though.

I get my coupons, flyers, and shopping list altogether and then it’s time to hit the store(s)!

What you should bring with you to the store:

– A nice, cold drink. I don’t know about you, but I get super thirsty when I’m deal hunting!
– Your coupon binder/folder/whatever. I always bring ALL of my coupons with me when I go out shopping. You never know when you will come across an unadvertised deal!
– The coupons & flyers you plan to use
– Your shopping list
– A calculator
– A snack or 10. Along with getting thirsty while I shop, I always seem to get hungry as well – even if I’ve already eaten before I left home. Avoid impulse buys by bringing a small snack for when the hunger bug bites.
– Reusable bags

I also suggest bringing a print out of your store’s coupon policy. I have had to show staff at Walmart their policy a few times to prove to the cashiers that they did, in fact, accept printable coupons.

Buy only what is on your list (unless you find sweet clearance deals!) – and get out of the store

When you’re at the store, it can be very tempting to buy new products that you see and would love to try. DON’T DO IT! If you really want to try a certain product and it’s not on your list, make sure it’s on your list next week. Walkthrough the store and collect the items you plan to purchase.

When you are done your shopping, pull over to a section in the store that is not busy, and get your coupons ready to go. It’s a bad idea to get to the cash, pile all of your stuff on the belt, and then have to dig around in your bag for the coupons, while the people behind you in line are huffing and puffing.

Make sure all coupons are neat and in order. Some people like to put their coupons on the items they are using them on and some people like to give them to the cashier at the very end. Whichever way you chose to do it, make sure the coupons are in a nice pile for the cashier.

Watch the screen

As items are being scanned, make sure they are all coming up at the correct price. If not, mention it to the cashier and ask if they will apply the SCOP discount on the item.

Also, keep a careful eye on the screen when your coupons are put through. Sometimes two coupons can stick together and a cashier can miss one. Other times the cashier is going too fast and can put in a $2.00 coupon as .20 – pay close attention! You didn’t do all that planning to not get the deal you should be getting.

Enjoy your shopping success!

Skip out of the store happily, knowing that you only bought things that were on your list and that you got some pretty awesome deals. Pat yourself on the back when no one is looking.

How do you organize your shopping trip?


  1. Erica

    Funny how we always forget the Reusable bags. lol

  2. Cassie Howard

    I KNOW! even though they are ALWAYS in the car. dangit!

  3. Joe

    I have a very similar process to get organized for shopping. I have a little spreadsheet that I use to record what I need to buy but I go one step further and record the value/number of the coupons for each item and also if I should be receiving any bonus points (ie.10x Optimum points at SDM). That way when I review my receipt I know I used the coupons I wanted and received the points that I was expecting.

    Great blog.

  4. Cassie Howard

    wow, that;s a great idea joe! i think i might start doing that too. thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. Ashley

    I love this post, it has given me lots of ideas on how to better organize my shopping trips.

    One thing I have a question about though is giving the coupons to the cashier…last week when I was shopping I used 8-10 coupons and I laid out all the coupons on top of each item. The cashier was slow and read through all the fine print on EACH coupon, and it took forever to get out of the store. I was just wondering when you give all the coupons to the cashier at once, do they then have to fumble through your bags to check to see if you bought 2 items that the coupon is for, or that it’s the exact item on the coupon? Which way is easier?

    Thanks, I love your blog! You’ve had some great posts lately that are particularly interesting to me (like organizing your stockpile in small spaces) 🙂

  6. Cassie Howard

    you know what, sometimes i get cashiers that do make me fumble through my bags and show them the item(s), but most of the time the cashier just rings them all up without asking. it’s hit or miss really.

    i don’t like putting the coupons WITH the items because it always seems to take forever for some reason!

  7. Shelagh

    I love the suggestions from here. This is great. I am off to organize my shopping lists.

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