Sensible Shopping: Grocery Lists

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Grocery shopping is a necessary evil for us all.  Occasionally I have a really great shopping trip... usually not.  Nothing is more frustrating than spending my time off at the supermarket just to get home and discover I've forgotten something.  It is absolutely maddening!  Enter "the list".  Grocery lists are so useful.  They save you time and money and help you make better food choices.  

I was surprised to see a study that reported only 40% of consumers use a weekly grocery list.  Another report said 62%.  At best then, only around half of us are using a grocery list. Interestingly, one of the studies showed that the majority of list makers are women and the largest percentage of non-list makers were childless. 

You can organize your list based on what best suits you.  Some group things together by category, some by aisle (if you use the same store every week), some even by the food pyramid.  The only method I would not recommend (except for very short lists) is an incremental list.  You might still save money, but this method will have you searching your list and walking all over the store.

savour... steady buggy wheels

Here is how this works at our house:

  • On      Thursday we begin planning dinners for the following week.  We      usually write some things in as we think of them over the week.  Many      times we start figuring meals for the following week while we are in the      store for the current week.
  • Friday      somebody takes the list and fills in what they know we need that hasn't      already been listed.  One son will check "inventory levels"      on staple items and report back.
  • Either      Friday night or Saturday morning dinner plans are firmed up and the      necessary ingredients are listed if we don't have them on hand.
  • Saturday      morning somebody peruses the limited number of coupons that we keep and      looks over any ads we may have (we only entertain ones for our regular      stores).
  • Then      we grab up the list, coupons, reusable bags and we are out the door.

If you google search grocery lists you will come up with page after page of templates.  I found a fewhere and here and here.  Also, if you have a smartphone, I assure you that "there is an app for that".  Try one that you think is most closely related to your needs.  The only thing I would advise against is the sort that has everything prefilled with little check boxes next to it.  It's fine if you intend to buy all of those items every week, but I do not like to see anything on the list that I am not going to buy. The best ones allow you to customize.  You may even want to make your own with a word processing program or spreadsheet.  Here is a copy of the one I made and use.  Feel free to make it yours.

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Once you have committed to the grocery list idea, you must find a central location for it.  The kitchen seems like a natural choice since that is where you will determine most of your needs.  Ours is kept on a clipboard on the telephone stand.  We keep weekly ads and coupons nearby in the drawer of the same stand. In this way, everybody knows where to find it and everybody knows what is for dinner.  That does not mean that we never deviate.  This just gives us a good plan from which to work.

If you do not currently use a list, I hope this will inspire you to give it a shot.  If you do use one, then I hope you found this useful.  I would appreciate any feedback or tips you can share with the other readers.  See you in the aisles.