Going to the grocery store is a necessity, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an onerous chore. The key to a successful shopping trip, like most things in life, is planning. If you’re like most people, you create your grocery list by writing down the items you need on a pad in whatever order they pop into your head. But this method doesn’t capitalize on any particular organizational methods, and so it can only be effective in a limited manner. Here are some suggestions to help you organize your shopping list and make going to the grocery store more fun and less frustrating.
Plan and List: Perfect Partnership
Planning your meals for the week ahead can save you a lot of time and worry. It can also prevent the age-old question, “What are we having for dinner tonight?” If you’ve been creating your meal plans and shopping lists separately, you’re probably doubling the amount of work you need to do. They key to streamlining the process is to have a reusable template. This template might be something you download, like this one from Real Simple magazine, or one you create yourself. Either way, it’s important to connect the meals with the list of ingredients you need to buy at the grocery store.
To save time in the future, type up your meal plan and list of ingredients and save it. That way, when you need a plan, it’s already done – just print, cross off the ingredients you already have on hand, and head to the store for the remaining items.
Shop by Section
Most of us create our grocery lists by writing down the items we need as we realize we need them. What we end up with though is a mixture of items from all different departments, and shopping this way can leave us running back and forth from Produce to Bakery, shaking our heads wondering how we didn’t see “wheat bread” when we were just in the bakery for bagels. It’s much more effective to create a list based on the section, which you can do yourself or by buying a fun pre-printed magnetic pad that can hang on your refrigerator.
Map It Out
Some of us are spatial thinkers. You know who you are: you can spot a crooked photograph a mile away, and you can envision an entire room before the frame of a house is even up. If your brain works this way, you may benefit from creating a grocery store map as your shopping list. Start by drawing (either by hand or on your computer) the general layout of your favorite grocery store. Label the outer sections first, leaving as much room as possible for the items you will add when you create your list. For the inner aisles, you can create a T-chart for every two aisles, which will leave room for you to list out your items. If you hand draw your map, scan it in so you can print it anytime you need to create a new list. You may also want to type in those items you always need (spinach, strawberries, milk, etc.), so you don’t have to rewrite them every week.
App It Out
If you like to download apps for entertainment, consider downloading an app that will save you time and money at the grocery store. Nearly every major grocery store chain now has an app for both Android and Apple that will allow you to build a shopping list, view the current circular, clip virtual coupons, and locate nearby store. Some stores even allow you to download their recipes and add the items immediately to your own shopping list. Just call it Grocery Crush.
Do you feel like you write the same items on your list week after week? Consider creating a reusable checklist that contains all the items you buy on a regular basis. Try this strategy: one day, walk around to every room in your house and make a list of the items you buy for that room. Some places don’t require weekly items, but others are constantly being used, like bathrooms. Make your list as specific as you’d like. If you only buy a particular brand and size, write down that exact brand and size. Doing so makes it easier to stay focused in a store or to share the list with your partner who may not go shopping as frequently as you.