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What I Wish Everyone Knew About Grocery Lists

A grocery list is not rocket science. With a little planning and effort, you can create an efficient list that will minimize stress and maximize your efforts to create positive food experiences.

The Often-Dreaded Grocery List

Picture this scenario:

You arrive home after a long day at the office. Your stomach is grumbling like a coyote howling at the moon. You open the refrigerator, anticipating some amazing leftovers like Mexican Stuffed Chicken, Greek Kabobs, or even some Zesty Guacamole. Your mouth is watering as you open the door – you can almost taste the food. Then, to your astonishment, you discover that the refrigerator is…empty. Completely empty. Okay, maybe there are a few condiments hanging around from prior meals. But the meals themselves? GONE! Finished. Digested. The original smile on your face turns into one of disappointment, even heartbreak. You suddenly realize the obvious – you need to go grocery shopping.

empty refrigerator representing grocery list

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

After going through this type of scenario, many people would immediately head over to the nearest grocery store and desperately grab a few items off the shelf in an effort to satisfy a craving or calm the chants of a hungry family. That may work in the extreme short term, but generally you need to create a grocery list.

Grocery Lists Don’t Get Enough Love

People often dread grocery lists. Grocery lists have taken on certain stigmas in recent years, such as:

·      They are too complicated.

·      They need to be all-inclusive.

·      You need to know the store well enough first.

·      You have to use an app.

·      Apps complicate things too much.

·      You need to make more than one list.

The above statements could not be further from the truth. The reality is that you have COMPLETE FLEXIBILITY over how you make a grocery list. The list may be as simple as writing it down on a sticky note. While some people prefer hardcopy lists, others may prefer an app on their smartphone. There is no right or wrong answer here. The choice is yours.

6 Tips to Create Efficient Grocery Lists:

Here are some quick tips to remember as you begin your quest for grocery list efficiency:

1. Start with a plan.

A big key is to have a plan. Otherwise, how would you know what to buy? You may end up just buying random items that you may or may not use. Food can go bad because you did not have a plan. If you are good about having a plan, and knowing what you are going to use and when you are going to use it, then you will minimize food waste. You can be more efficient when you have a plan. You then know the ingredients you need and you are less apt to buy too much. You can then be more efficient with the quantity and quality of the food items you purchase.

The saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” comes to mind. Many grocery list errors and mishaps can be avoided if you start with a plan.

2. Don’t rely on your memory.

Even if you are going to the grocery store for just a few items, you may forget what you intended to buy by the time you arrive at the grocery store. A lot can happen on the way to the grocery store, and you may forget your purpose for going there in the first place.

3. Write down an item once.

Back in the early days, I used to create a rather rough list of items I needed at the grocery store. I wrote the list down by hand in a notebook. Before going to the grocery store, I then transferred that information onto a few other lists. As you can probably guess, there was plenty of room for error (duplication, forgotten items, etc.). Having an app to help me has been extremely helpful and efficient (see Tip #5 below). If you choose not to use an app, an alternate idea is to create a spreadsheet or other type of list. You could print it out and check off the items as you go through the store.

4. Stock up.

Keep abreast of sales on various food items. Stock up on basic pantry items or other items you use regularly. Doing so will help avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store, and avoid duplication of food items.

5. Use a grocery app.

smartphone representing grocery list apps

Grocery list apps help you to be efficient with your time and resources.

Once you get the process down, there are several meal planning apps that can help you be even MORE efficient (if that’s even possible). For example, apps such as Pepperplate allow you to create a grocery list. You can prepare the list based on different categories or aisles (dairy, bakery, etc.). You can also create your own categories for even more customization.

A helpful feature is that the app synchronizes among electronic devices. You can create the grocery list on your laptop, and then synchronize the information to your smart phone and take the list to the store with you.

The app also helps you to not forget items. One handy feature I have found with using a grocery list app is that you can check off items as you buy them. Once you have purchased all the items on the list, the list grays out, so visually you know you are done. This has been very helpful.

Sometimes I think I’m done with the list and begin walking over to the registers. As I glance down at the list again (to close out the app), I realize I have not scrolled down far enough on the page to see the remaining items. Whew! This app saved my bacon (and saved me another trip to the grocery store to buy remaining items)!

6. Check your work.

Double check your grocery list before leaving the store to ensure you have not forgotten anything.

Make sure you do a thorough check at home to ensure you don’t purchase items unnecessarily. If you are already at the store and are unsure whether you have a food item, call home and ask for someone to check for a certain item.

Grocery lists can be your ticket to food adventures.

As you continue your grocery shopping adventures, you will become more proficient and more familiar with the store layout. You can make adjustments to your grocery list from time to time to keep it efficient.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What are some efficient ways YOU have found to create grocery lists?

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