If you’re the household grocery shopper, you’ve probably heard the advice that you should print out a list of things you buy regularly, and circle items as you run out of them. It’s a good idea; I’ve been doing it for years. In that time, I’ve discovered a few ways to make it work even better.
Put your list items in the same order as you’d find them in the store. Though all grocers put produce, dairy, and meat around the edges of the store, beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. They also change the layout fairly often to get you to walk past (and maybe pick up) items you usually skip. Your store may give out maps, especially if it was recently built, or you may have to map it yourself.
When you start the list in your word processing program, lay the page out in three columns or more. Yes, you can get it all on one page.You may even want to get fancy and make a table with space for each aisle in the store. Leave some blank space for occasional stuff like coconut milk.
Post it on the fridge, where you can update it as needed. Find a way to keep a pencil nearby, or it won’t happen.
Paperclip your coupons to the list (or staple them, just don’t damage the all-important bar code). You may want to make a note next to each list item that you have a coupon for — especially if you’re going shopping at a low-alertness time of day.
Update your list document when you start going to a new store, when you stop buying things like diapers (it does happen!), or when your regular store changes its layout (see above).
Taking a little time to do these things has saved me lots of time and money over the years.