Smarter Shopping: Lists That Work / Confessions of a Horrible Shopper
I'm going to confess: I'm a horrible shopper. I don't really like doing it and I'm not good at it, at all. Especially not grocery shopping or even shopping for shoes or something necessary. If anything, I do enjoy shopping for gifts for others, which is always fun, or for the really rare events like a best friend's wedding, when I have a great excuse to go buy something special that I never usually buy, or wear. But no matter whether I am getting ready to embark on every-day hum-drum grocery or pharmacy shopping, or looking ahead to more exciting, and fun, holiday gift shopping, I always like to make lists.
Embarrassing confession #2: I don't usually remember to bring the list, and if I do, I lose it half way through my shopping trip, or I drop it while I'm running out the door, or my dog eats it (seriously). In the odd event none of these pathetic occurrences take place, confession #3: my list is usually so messy, with things written sideways, crossed out, in five different pens, crayons and markers, with question marks and other notes to self scribbled all around it, that I give up trying to decipher it half way through the super market or just get dizzy rushing back and forth across the isles from fruit to cereal back to fruit, to bread isle, back to veggies, then dairy - I think you see my style. I have actually tried once buying those pre-printed shopping list notepads, where you just check things off, but I found that maddening and useless for me as well, because there were a million things on there I didn't need which I kept seeing in front of me, and it took me longer to figure out what I did need, in the end.
So I've finally come up with a working solution: Making lists on LINED paper which I split up, first, into sections, and even subsections if my list is going to be huge, like this: PRODUCE: fruit, then veggies. DAIRY; FROZEN FOODS; CLEANING PRODUCTS, and so on. And, if you do this in the order you usually shop (depending where you enter your usual stores, what's near the register and exit, or in-between), you can just fold your paper over as you go through the list. Genius, right?! Another idea, if your lists are really long and you know your markets well, is to split things up, by isle, like BAKING ISLE AND BREAD; COOKIES AND CRACKERS; CHIPS AND DIPS; HALLOWEEN CANDY, CARDS AND DECOR; etc.
And as far as the much more exciting, but sometimes more challenging and definitely more time-consuming holiday gift shopping, the one piece of solid advice I have to share is something my adorable husband does: make a list, throughout the year, that you keep on a little secret slip of paper in your wallet or purse, where you jot down any ideas of things people need or things they mention they have been wishing for or looking for. This way, when the holidays approach, you'll have plenty of ideas for great, useful gifts for those close to you, and you can even do some of your hunting online from the comfort of your couch, if you chose, instead of fighting crowds and rushing all over, searching for ideas.
The one last list advice I have to add is, if you feel so inclined, there are several apps, both free or paid, that help you create lists. Personally, I enjoy having a few minutes away from staring at a screen when I shop, so I don't do that, but I know moms who do, and rely on this. The lists will show you what you buy often, or suggest things you might need, which is cool too. Just search for Shopping List in your app finder or app store.
Do you make shopping lists, and how do they work, for you?