7 Tips for Streamlining Your Shopping List
I have a long-standing dislike of grocery shopping. Pushing a cart around a store is not one of the ways I amuse myself. I've found that because of my attempts to get in and out of the grocery store, I wind up forgetting things. The only way I can manage is to have a perfect grocery list — the type that includes even the little things that we need on every trip. There are some tricks to figuring out a grocery list, though, and I'm sharing them here and now.
- Use a spreadsheet. I know that not everyone likes to use technology for stuff like their shopping lists, but being able to organize my list, especially by store, has saved my life. It also makes it easier to add information like whether I have a coupon or which store is holding a sale.
- Add items immediately when you run out. The biggest danger to my grocery list is three little words: “Oh, I’ll remember.” Whenever I run out of something, I write it down immediately. If I see that someone else has used up the last crumbs, I write that down, too.
- Buy in bulk, when you can. I live in an apartment, but I still managed to find a hiding place for a 25-pound bag of flour. Small spaces should just be an opportunity for creativity. Buying in bulk from Sam’s Club and its ilk can often get me just as good of a deal as clipping coupons and buying weekly from a grocery store.
- Shop around, but not too much. I read the weekly sales paper, and pick one or two stores that seem to have the best overall prices for the week. For some families, it may come down to the price of just one item: I usually wind up going with the store with the cheapest price on our soda pop of choice.
- Plan meals. The easiest way to get an idea of what needs to be on your shopping list is to plan out what you’ll be preparing for the next week or so. You can put together a list from your ingredients, and, if someone’s coming to dinner, you know which ingredients you’ll need more of.
- Determine your staples. Every family has different staples: my boyfriend would mutiny if I didn’t keep cheddar cheese on hand at all times, while my mother’s household practically runs on tortillas. Whether or not your staples fit into your meal plan, they’re usually worth picking up. Running out may not be a pretty option.
- Go green. The less you’re buying from the store means the less that has to go on your grocery list. Even as simple a step as purchasing cloth napkins to reuse, rather than buying paper towels or paper napkins, can reduce costs, as well as worry when you forget to buy something to wipe up messes.
If you've got a tip on refining the shopping list, let me know! I'm always looking for ways to simplify my system.