In Shopping from the Hip, Part 1, I mentioned two things: 1) it’s human nature to buy on impulse if we’re not ready and organized before we enter a grocery store and 2) the best tool to have in the supermarket is a shopping list. What I didn’t mention is how I learned the art of creating a list.
Years ago, while grocery shopping with a college friend, I noticed a neatly written grocery list in her hands. This “list thing” was new to me. Unlike my method of wandering around the store, she went directly to what she wanted and navigated the store with ease. This valuable lesson in purposeful food shopping later led to my becoming a dietitian.
So, where do you start when making a list?
- First, create a dinner menu. I make a 5-day menu, leaving two nights open: one for leftovers and another for eating out. Count the days you eat dinner at home and plan accordingly. Since our family seems to have a typical breakfast/lunch routine of eggs, toast or cereal and sandwiches, I put those items on my list as I need them. Keep a side list of items you run out of during the week to transfer onto your main list.
- Next, make a Shopping List with headings. Using your dinner menu, transfer items under their appropriate heading: Meat, Fruit/Vegetables, Dairy, Canned/Frozen, Bread/Cereal, Paper/Cleaners and Misc. Since grocery stores follow this layout plan to divide their products, this becomes your map that leads you efficiently through the store. (See photo above.)
- Now enter the grocery store with purpose. Instead of aimlessly wandering around, I think you’ll find that an organized list relieves stress, plus offers a level of comfort and sense of achievement to your weekly shopping excursions.
Save time, maximize food dollars and have ready supplies for healthy meals at home by shopping with a list. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!