How to Create a Standardized Grocery Shopping List
Grocery shopping can be a high-priced nightmare if you don't make a list ahead of time. Taking a grocery list to the store is guaranteed to save you time, money, and probably some extra calories. Even if you do make a list, shopping can be a zigzag affair if you don't compile the list according to where items are located in the store. Creating a standardized shopping list that is organized by store sections will eliminate the back-and-forth-all-over-the-store routine some of us are used to.
In most grocery stores, the produce, deli, bakery, meat, seafood, and dairy sections are around the outside edge of the store. The aisles in the middle of the store are mostly non-perishables, with the exception of the freezer cases. Grocery store layouts are not designed with the customer's pocketbook in mind. Have you ever wondered why the milk and eggs are always in the back of the store? Grocery psychologists know that by walking through the whole store first, most people will pick up unplanned additional items along the way. Sneaky, huh?
In order to develop a standardized shopping list, you must be familiar with the store's layout. Close your eyes and envision the inside of your favorite grocery store. What is the first department you walk into when you enter the store? Make that department first on your standardized list. In most stores, the produce section is in the front corner of the store, and it's a good starting point. Visualize yourself walking through each department. Choose the most efficient path you can take through the store. Make a list of each department in the store according to the layout. Each department will serve as a category heading on your standardized list.
Next, list grocery items you regularly purchase under each category. In addition to the store departments, I include a section for extras, which are items I don't buy on a regular basis. If I want to try a new recipe that requires unusual ingredients, I list them in the extra section. I also use the extra section for super bargains that are in the weekly ad. These sale items are not on my regular list, but I will buy them when the prices hit rock bottom. For example, I do not buy soda regularly, but if I can buy a 12-pack for $1.50 or less, I will splurge.
There are several departments in a typical grocery store that I do not include on my list because I don't use them regularly, such as floral, liquor, pharmacy, and photo processing. Also, I am not brand loyal. I buy whichever brand is the best deal. If you prefer Jif peanut butter over Skippy, make a note of that on your list. Be as specific as possible. Here's the list I use. It's not perfect, and I make changes to it frequently. It is personalized to my family's likes and needs, so don't be surprised or confused if something you regularly buy is not listed.
After you complete the first draft of your standardized grocery list, save it on the computer for later updates and printing. Keep a copy of your list on the fridge or the inside of the pantry door so you can add things to your list when you run out. Remember, this list is a work in progress, and it doesn't have to be perfect the first time you use it. Refer to it and make changes regularly. Soon you'll be in and out of the store in no time, and you'll be grocery shopping like a professional.