Grocery Lists Made Easy

Ever tried to use a grocery list only to find something wasn’t working? Perhaps you‘ll recognize yourself in one of these 4 Levels.

The progression of a grocery list maker…

Level 1: We don’t need a list. Like the Cooking Channel chefs we’ll wander the market and see what looks good.  Result: Three days later we ask, “Honey, will you check on MyRecipes.com and see what we can make with green olives and milk?”

Level 2: We write things on any scrap that is handy. Result: On shopping day we have our six-year-old follow us through the aisles gathering the papers we drop. Halfway through the store she asks, “Mommy, do you want me to grab the pink Post-it stuck to your fanny?” “Uh, I’ll get that one.”

Level 3: Refrigerator notepads are the way to go. We can easily reach the list to make notes, and we always know where it is. Result: While putting our last frozen food item in the cart, we realize we missed getting onions in the produce section. We weigh our options: melted ice cream vs. onions for the stew. The ice cream wins. Onions don’t add that much flavor, right?

Level 4: We print out the super-duper, pre-formatted, all groceries known to man list and vow to use it forever more. Result: We unpack our groceries with pride. We’ve got this shopping thing down. Then we hear, “Babe, where are my granola bars?” “You didn’t put them on the list.” “ Yes, I did—right here .” We pull out our magnifying glass to see where he’s pointing. Sure enough, there’s a check in the tiny box between the listings for goat cheese and haggis.

If you find yourself in any of these examples, may I suggest going to Level 5: using a customized, easy to read, simple grocery list.  A few years ago, I created one for myself. Today, I’m sharing how you can do it, too.

Creating a Custom Grocery List

If you have Microsoft Excel, you can download Grocery List.xls and modify the file. Otherwise, download this Grocery List.PDF and create your list by hand. To see what my custom Grocery List looks like, click here.

Now, lets get customizing. (Don’t worry. There are only 2 steps!)

1. Categories – Both grocery lists above contain 9 sections you can customize for how you shop. Label each section with a category you use. Here are some possible section titles:

  • Produce
  • Meat
  • Frozen Foods
  • Dairy
  • Pantry Items
  • Personal Care
  • Miscellaneous

Note: For my family, we don’t go through a lot of personal care items, but we do make regular trips to WalMart. So, I use one section for WalMart items and one for Other Stores. This lets me combine my regular shopping into a single list.

2. Standard Items: Once you have your categories, add the standard items you buy almost every time you shop. My goal is to shop once a week; therefore, the standard items on my list are things I buy almost every week. FYI – You’re goal is not to fill every line in the category.  You’ll use the blank lines for non-standard items that change from week to week.

That’s it. Save your list and your ready for

Using Your Custom Grocery List

  • Make 4-5 copies, enough for the month, and post them in a visible place. I use a magnetic clip to hang mine on the refrigerator.
  • Add items to your list throughout the week. If you run out of blank lines, mark through an item you won’t need this week and write the item you do need next to it.
  • Make note of any items that are getting low, even if you don’t need them yet. This lets you be on the watch for sales.
  • Adjust your custom grocery list periodically as your shopping needs change.

Simplicity Tip of the Day:  When it comes to repetitive tasks, try having a Goldilocks mindset. Keep refining your systems until they work “just right” for you.


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This entry was posted in Kitchen Tips, Organizing and De-Cluttering and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Grocery Lists Made Easy

  1. Cathy Baker says:

    Yet another practical and helpful post, CC. I love the “Goldilocks mindset”. 🙂 I will be making my copies today thanks to you!

  2. I like the idea of using categories. It not only makes the trip to the grocery store much easier when you can get everything you need from each department, but it also prevents you from the dreaded “I forgot the one thing that I came to the store for” syndrome. 🙂

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