Updated on 02.16.10

Optimizing Your Grocery List

Trent Hamm

A few weeks ago, I went to the grocery store in the afternoon to take care of grocery shopping for the week. Sarah had written a list for me (in all fairness to her, it was actually closer to a set of notes for a meal plan rather than for grocery shopping; it wasn’t really a complete and finished list), but I hadn’t looked at it very carefully. However, I did know from what she told me that I would have to do at least some of the grocery shopping at a different grocery store than our usual one because there were a few unusual items on the list for special meals. As a result, I decided to pick up most of the stuff at a different grocery store than our usual one, in order to save some time.

After the shopping was over, though, I left the store in a painful daze. It had actually taken far longer than it ever should have – and the shopping list was the big problem.

First of all, the items weren’t categorized well. There were several fresh fruits and vegetables on the list, but they were often separated by things like flour and spices and eggs and milk – items in completely different parts of the store.

Second, some of the items were simply names of complete recipes that we knew well. In a rush to complete the list (which, as I mentioned above, was closer to notes for a meal plan), Sarah simply jotted down two complete recipes by name that we both know cold. Of course, in the store, that means spending the time to think about the items required for the recipe – and also possibly buying extras of a particular item.

Third, the list annotations were unclear. Sarah had included a few notes that would have made perfect sense to her – but didn’t make any sense at all to me. I made some valiant guesses and, in a few cases, made the right guess, but I spent a lot of time puzzling them out and quite often I made the wrong guess.

Why is this an issue worth writing a post about?

First of all, it cost time. I spent a bunch of extra time in the store because of the items on this list, whether it was simply trying to figure out what they are or rushing from one end of the store to the other to find them.

Second, it cost us money. I bought a couple of unnecessary items along the way due to redundancy and also due to not understanding the list fully.

Third, it convinced me to make a few impulse buys. As I spent so much time wandering back and forth in the store, I was continually exposed to shelf after shelf of items that weren’t on my list and I didn’t need. Thanks to that exposure, I bought at least two unnecesary items.

So, how can I solve this problem? My goal, quite simply, is to save as much time and money as possible compared to this shopping trip. Here’s the plan I put in place.

First, I made a bunch of custom blank meal plan sheets. These are basically sheets that enable us to fill in full meal plans for the week ahead. These can easily be stuck on the fridge with a magnet, enabling us to fill in the blanks as we so wish.

Second, I made a bunch of custom blank grocery lists. Instead of just using a blank sheet of paper, I made a sheet that had a few distinct groups on it – “fresh fruits and vegetables,” “dairy products,” “meat counter,” “bread aisle,” and “other,” to be specific. If an item falls under one of the first four categories, we put it there. Otherwise, it goes in the “other” area.

Third, nothing gets added to the grocery list unless it’s out until we’re ready to go to the store. The only thing we put on the list during the week are items that we’re out of (or very close to depleting). This way, there is no confusion about what’s on the list.

Finally, the meal plan is finished (and the grocery list completed from the meal plan) just before we leave to go shopping. By keeping all complete meal ideas on the meal plan and not on any grocery lists, no one will have to stand in the store and piece through what the ingredients are for “jambalaya.”

What I learned from all of this is simple: doing that prep work ahead of time actually saves time in the store, and it certainly saves money, too. I learned this the hard way from that day with the confusing list.

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  1. Shannon says:

    Trent, do you have fun in your life? Sometimes, it seems that everything you do is so robotic. In my opinion, it’s hardly a big deal if you end up spending 5 minutes more than to have to go through the rigamarole of the “technique” you outline above. You are missing the forest for the trees I think…

  2. Maureen says:

    I probably would have phoned home for clarification. You could return the unwanted packaged items, or add them to your stockpile.

    Sometimes it is worth deviating from a list to take advantage of loss leaders or other specials.

  3. J says:

    We do a similar planning process at home. Generally I like to organize the list as close as I can to the supermarket layout, which I’m really familiar with since we’ve been going there for years.

    I wouldn’t have thrown my wife under the bus for the crappy list, though — if I’m shopping, it’s my responsibility to understand the list prior to leaving the house. :)

  4. Nicole says:

    When we do menu planning for the week we have two lists (both on the back of used envelopes– how’s that for master frugality?). One list is the menu list which states a recipe and which book it came from if it came from a book. The other list is the grocery list, where we put ingredients that we don’t already have. We stick the ingredients list on the fridge so we can add to it during the week when we use up something in our pantry or are running low on vital staples like milk or bananas.

    And yeah, don’t throw your spouse under the bus. It was nice of her to do the initial menu planning at all. No need to say, “In all fairness to her” because saying that makes it sound exactly the opposite. I would say, “I had unfortunately neglected to/forgotten to check the list before leaving.”

  5. Crystal says:

    I would have bought the items I was sure about and picked up the rest on a different trip…it would have saved you the time you wasted and the time you spent on your new system.

    I’d also be super happy if my husband even made a meal list…

    To be fair, we have three large grocery stores within 5 minutes (2 miles) of our house. An extra 15 minute stop on the way home or trip to pick up a few items is pretty easy.

  6. Crystal says:

    From a wife’s point of view, I make my lists for myself and would be ticked off if a new system was introduced for both of us simply because my husband got frustrated. Why didn’t you call her and see what her notes meant?

  7. friend says:

    Crystal, you are right! Now Sarah has to adhere to this new system? Sheesh!

  8. Seattle Rez says:

    Agree with the other folks, couldn’t get past the bad taste in my mouth to see any value in your grocery list system.

    If you were my spouse, I’d be pretty ticked right about now.

  9. Darrell says:

    Post the sheets!

  10. ldub says:

    same boat – wish this post didn’t make me cringe, but if my husband came home with a new “system” for grocery lists based on one long trip to the store, i’d be pretty upset. even with your spiffy new system, someone’s going to write a little note on the sheet, not under the right column, just because, or they’re going to make a cryptic notation that only they understand or they’re going to put something you can only get at trader joe’s on the regular grocery store list, and you’re gonna be frustrated. grocery shopping? often frustrating. making an argument out of it at home? just making everyone grumpy.

  11. Snowy Heron says:

    Sarah’s shopping list method is how I used to do it before I got married. On our first grocery shopping trip, my husband could not believe how disorganized I was, going back and forth through the store to pick up stuff in different aisles. Starting the next week he had me put stuff on the list more or less in the order in which the store was laid out. I was a little irritated with the criticism at first, but after one trip using my husband’s method, I was a believer. It was a much faster trip and less stressful since I wasn’t wandering back and forth in the store.

    I would also say that just putting menu items on the list (e.g., “Pot Roast”) is not a good idea. It doesn’t tell you what ingredients for the pot roast you might already have on hand and you could end up with too much of something, and could end up throwing stuff away that has gone bad. What a waste!

    Every week I plan out what meals we will be having and check to see what ingredients I have on hand and what I might need to purchase. My grocery list is broken out by Produce, Dairy, Cans & Bottles, Meats, Misc. (dog food, toiletries, et al.), and Frozen. It takes me about 1.25 hours, on average, from leaving the house to getting back home (10-15 min. drive each way)and I am shopping for 4-5 people (depending on who is home from college). I usually only go once a week.

  12. Nicole says:

    I dunno, if I were Sarah, I wouldn’t be ticked. I’d just say, “Great system. Thanks for volunteering to do all the menu planning and grocery shopping.”

    Isn’t it a standard military law that anyone who complains about the cooking becomes the new cook?

  13. chacha1 says:

    Gee, I love grocery shopping. I feel so rich wandering around one of the big supermarkets and knowing I can get anything there that I want. We’re lucky: “food” is not really a budget concern for us. And I don’t shop under time pressure. Or when I’m hungry.

    @ Snowy Heron (great tag), sometimes just “pot roast” is enough – because what if you write down “brisket” and they don’t have any – but they have a perfectly good chunk of pork butt or a sale on lamb shanks?

    I love my lists, so this post mostly made me giggle at the mental filmstrip of Trent crisscrossing the unfamiliar store, with a little ?@#&!? in a thought balloon over his head, but I must say … if I were self-employed and the master of my own time, faced with an incomprehensible set of notes as described, I do believe I would have gone home to clarify things before proceeding to shop. Of course, I also would have looked at the notes pretty thoroughly first, if I wasn’t the one who made ’em.

  14. Seattle Rez says:

    @Nicole FTW!

  15. Sarah says:

    Would everyone be upset at Sarah if the situation were reversed and Trent was writing how she implemented a new system because she couldnt understand his notes? I think its perfectly reasonable to want to standardize a list that diffrent people may need to shop from. If Sarah wants to write notations on a list, that would be saying she is willing to do the shopping or not critizce anything bought incorrectly since her notations were not understandable. As for everyone asking Trent why he didnt just call her to explain, maybe she wouldnt have been able to take the time to explain or take several calls.

  16. Crystal says:

    @Snowy (#11)
    This wasn’t Sarah’s shopping list, it was a menu. Trent used it to shop and then got frustrated. He was citicizing something that wasn’t intended for the purpose for which it was used. That would tick me off.

    Also, changing the whole system for himself is one thing, but changing it for both of them seemed presumptuous.

    @Nicole (#12)
    Yeah, I thought about that, but I’d still be internally ticked. I’d also make sure that I never touched a list…yes, sorry, I’m that kind of person.

  17. Steffie says:

    We have a magnetized pad printed with the days of the week on the refrigerator. We usually just write the main item,’beef’ and then ‘potato or noodles’ for the side dish. The ‘cooker’ is free to decide what seasonings etc. and the vegetable. We go to the ‘farmers market’ on Saturday to buy the meat, veggies and fruit. We don’t work off of a strict list, generally we always have beef, chicken, fish,broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes and cauliflower sometime during the week. And yes sometimes we see something interesting, like kiwi, that the kids decide they want that week. We have a little bit of money for the ‘impulse’ buys worked into the budget, I take a specific amount each week, sometimes we have some left over for the next week, and this way we don’t always eat the same things every week. We value the time spent shopping, we have tried to make it enjoyable, not a chore that must be done. We are together with the kids, they are learning how to shop and also that there is more to life than hamburgers and chicken nuggets ! The market is made up of many ethnicities which we are taking advantage of to learn about other cultures. There is no way we could keep up with the rigidity that is suggested by the grocery sheets mentioned here. The system has to work for the person who does the majority of the shopping, not for the one who does it in a pinch. Of course some people are better with all of the details written out but some spontaneity does wonders to perk us up after a week of work etc.

  18. Crystal says:

    @Sarah (#15)
    Yes, I would be upset with anybody who imposes new systems on others without asking.

    Trent, did you ask your wife about the new system before you started it? Did she agree that it would be a great idea? That wasn’t in the post, so it seems like you’re just bossing everybody around.

  19. cathleen says:

    Well, everyone likes his or her own system, for various reasons.
    My husband is a professional chef and I love to cook. We cook “from the pantry”. I shop for a few minutes every other day and just get fresh veggies, fruit, fish, whatever. All the staples I already have (maybe once a month trip, maybe less frequently for things like oils, vinegars, spices)
    I do not use a meal plan unless we are having a dinner party and I’ve found I SAVE money and time. This obviously doesn’t work for everyone but I enjoy it so much more. I’ve tried the bulk thing, weekly trip and it just doesn’t work for us. YMMV :)

  20. Crystal @16 has it right – as Trent said, it was a meal plan, not a finished list. I think rather than implementing a whole new system because it didn’t work well for him, maybe he should own up to the fact that it didn’t work because he didn’t take the time to look at it beforehand. It’s his own fault he got confused and wasted time.

    My lists always have several drafts from meal plan to ingredients listing (crossing off what we already have) then shopping list in vague order of aisles. I’d suspect that Sarah’s lists probably work the same way without his helpful new system (which will still need to be organised from meal plan to aisle order).

    And Trent, why not phone home for clarification on confusing points? the extra money you spent was way more than the cost of the call. Or just leave the item and go back another time if you don’t have a phone.

  21. spaces says:

    1 & 2 are v. easy:

    1: Read list before you start shopping.

    2: Use your handy dandy writing utensil to add those items to the list.

  22. Robert says:

    Here’s a tip: Stock up on vegetables. They’re dirt cheap and can be added to a lot of dishes as healthy filler. Having steak? Instead of splurging on potato chips, get a sack of potatoes and broccoli on the side. It’ll cost a ton less and will be much healthier for you.

  23. Des says:

    Yeah, I’m with spaces #21 above…seems like it would be faster to just read the list before you start shopping.

    I also agree with others above who say if you designed the new system, you just volunteered to take over meal planning and shopping duties henceforth.

  24. Amanda says:

    I’m just impressed that both the adults do the shopping at Trent’s house. My husband does a whole lot but shopping of any kind is not one of them. But yeah Trent, can you publish those lists you came up with? They sound like a great idea.

  25. Gwen says:

    My mom makes lists like that out of her Franklin Planner. It always seemed to save her some time in the store.

  26. Helen says:

    Trent, I’m disappointed! I think you owe your wife an apology on this one – you say some things in her defense, but the tone of your post suggests that you believe she was the cause of your whole shopping excursion fiasco. Personal anecdotes add to a post and help your readers understand who you are, but in this case, I think you could have written about organizing grocery lists / meal plans without being so personal and dissing Sarah.

  27. jgonzales says:

    It sounds like Sarah was short on time when she wrote it.

    My biggest suggestion here is to take your time to write the list the night before shopping. Be detailed if you can. It saves me a lot of hassles in the long run because then I know exactly what is needed and what the notes mean if my husband added something. Plus it gives me a chance to pick our food options via what’s on sale vs. what sounds good.

    I do like the ideas of sorting it by areas because I, who made the grocery list last night when I had time, still spent at least some wasted time today because I put broccoli and celery down with the Boneless Chuck for pot roast instead of up with the other fruits and veggies we needed.

    As for everyone who’s on Trent’s case for starting a new plan, if the old plan isn’t working, doesn’t it make more sense to start a new one then to keep trying to follow the old one?

    Also, if Trent’s at the store, are you sure Sarah can answer questions? I go grocery shopping when my husband’s at work so if a note doesn’t make sense, I have to figure it out without contacting him.

  28. Jen says:

    I get the point of what you wrote and your new list format sounds useful, but agree with previous posters that you made it sound like you were publicly criticizing your wife on this one. Maybe you should add “special treat for Sarah” to the next list … :)

  29. Gretchen says:

    You are in the wrong here- you could have taken the 2 minutes before you left the house to clarify what the list said.

    Although I certainly agree with the posters who say with this new plan, it’s your baby now.

  30. Gretchen says:

    Thought 2:
    “Sarah simply jotted down two complete recipes by name that we both know cold. Of course, in the store, that means spending the time to think about the items required for the recipe”

    how is that EXTRA time? It’s either time at home or time at the store. If you have the recipe memorized, it doesn’t take less time to think of it at home. In fact, one could argue you save time by not having to write down the items.

  31. I used to laugh at my wife’s “Menu Schedule”…until I started doing the groceries. It saves time and keeps us buying only what we really need. A good, thought out list is key. I am with you, Trent.

  32. Sara Bee says:

    Has Sarah smacked you on the side of head yet? She didn’t leave you a perfect shopping list! Get over it.

  33. I’m all for planning and agree it helps but I find its a great practice to have to think on my toes when I don’t have something mapped out.

  34. Sara says:

    A few years ago, I received a Smart Shopper grocery list organizer as a gift, and it’s great. It has voice recognition, so you speak into it to record items on your list, and when you print the list, it automatically organizes items by category. It used to be pretty expensive, but it’s come down in price and I’ve seen it for about $35 recently.

    Before I got the Smart Shopper, I kept my grocery list on an Excel spreadsheet, with one column for the item and one column for the aisle. Before I went shopping, I simply sorted the list by aisle and printed it out.

  35. almost there says:

    Trent, I think you have too much time on your hands and are being to a*al about this. Why, you almost have as much time as me and I don’t work, being retired. Live a little, go in and gundeck the recipe for once and see what turns out. I do all the cooking as my wife doesn’t work also, OK, she watches Law and Order all afternoon, so that is work somewhat. I try to plan about 3 days ahead, but it is easy to do since I don’t have the pressure of writing a blog and providing some frugal/timesaving tidbits. Loosen up, you are young and shouldn’t be stressing about the shopping list.

  36. Noadi says:

    Okay, now I make a list like you do. It has categories of items and is a running list throughout the week. This is because if I don’t write things down when I run out I forget to add them to the list later. Then I’ll add a few proteins to the list and go shopping.

    Since I like my fresh fruits and veggies I only add staples like garlic, onions, and potatoes on my list, everything else I decide on at the store when I see what looks best with good prices. Funny I don’t impulse buy junk food but most of my veggie and fruit selection is on impulse of what looks tasty. Grocery shopping for me isn’t a chore that way, it’s fun. The broccoli looks really good this week, I think I’ll make a broccoli and cheese quiche (eggs, milk, cheese, and frozen pie crust are staples I always have). Could I save a little with a more organized list? Possibly but I can guarantee I wouldn’t have as much fun cooking if I did and since I don’t eat out I’m already saving plenty of money on food.

  37. NMPatricia says:

    I generally shop at a few stores, and have the items arranged on a list on the computer. I print them out on pieces of paper that have already something on the other side, but are not wanted. The itmes are listed in the order they are in the store. There are spaces for extra items that are not “staples”. Because we get a CSA box of fruits and vegetables and because I shop sales, meals are generally made from what is in the house. But that has taken me a while to get used to.

  38. For me, taking the time to make a good, legible list mostly saves time. It drives me nuts to have to make a second trip to the store only because I forgot something, or wrote it down so messily that I couldn’t understand it.

  39. littlepitcher says:

    Apps exist for this. Most of them can be organized by grocery aisle. If you don’t want to purchase the app, a good record of grocery lists will allow you to make a shared file on the computer, which can be updated by both of you. Print that out, and you are done.

    Failing that, a magnetic whiteboard and pen on the fridge door, or painting that door or an adjacent wall in blackboard paint (recipes for all colors are online) work well.

    You work at home. Making the list really should be your responsibility, and if she picks up the items on the way home from her outside work, gas, money, and tempers will be saved. Give the gal a break. Even teachers are being laid off these days, and she probably is shielding you from her worries.

  40. Joan says:

    This post got me to thinking about how much Sarah does. As a teacher, I know her day doesn’t start and end with the hours she spends at work and getting ready for work. She is very lucky to have a husband who tries to simplify the necessary chores for both of them to have more time for other things that are more important. I would like to know how Sarah organizes her time so that she gets everything done and has time to spend with her children and husband. I believe that Trent wrote how the shopping trip happened to take more time and cost more is his way of putting some real life issues in his post. It sometimes takes a bad shopping trip or other work related item (home or away) to make a person think about how they can make a necessary chore easier. I’ll bet Sarah is tickled that Trent devised a new method that saves BOTH of them time and money. Anyone reading the SD for any time knows that Trent would never throw his wife under the bus. Please post the sheets.

  41. Jackie says:

    I agree with Joan–as a mom of two who is also a teacher, I would love to hear some from Sarah about organizing her day and balancing her work-life responsibilities.

  42. I love my grocery list but lately I’ve been thinking that some items will always be on it. My mom had typed list for each store she went to (Sams, Aldi or wherever)and printed many copies that she kept on the fridge. Each week as we cooked or planned for the next one we’d circle the items we needed. By the time it was grocery shopping day the list was already made!

    I’m now inspired by this post to do what she did.

  43. luvleftovers says:

    (wow, it’s been over a year since I’ve posted here!)

    I only shop at one grocery store. I got the idea to write down the type of contents in each aisle and put it in a word document. I write down what I need on a whiteboard as the week goes on. Then all I have to do is jot it down in the appropriate column. It saves quite a bit of time, as I don’t forget things and have to run back on the way to the checkout, and it helps keep me from impulse buys.

    I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even need the list anymore. I’m able to write out the list in order from memory.

  44. Jamie says:

    I have 26 menus with the shopping list (in store aisle order) attached. Each week, I choose a menu, copy the list, cross out the items I already have, add what we’re out of (from the list attached to the side of the ‘fridge where everyone writes down what we are out of) and stock up items that are on exceptional sale, pull out my coupons and off I go. In all, menu planning, making the list, couponing, and shopping takes no more than 1 1/2 hours/week.

  45. matt says:

    Trent, try looking into one of the grocery list organizers for the ipod. You can set up multiple stores and it will resort your list by aisle depending on what store you are in. I always carry mine on me, and use to make sure i dont miss anything, then I can visually see what aisles i need to goto depending on which store i’m at (since the three i goto regularly each had a different layout.

  46. Michele says:

    #12 Nicole- it’s the ‘moose turd pie’ syndrome :)
    I am grateful when my husband is going to shop for me but I only send him when I absolutely can’t go. In this case, i write down exactly what I need, including brand. He calls me if he has any questions- that’s why we have a Verizon phone plan -it doesn’t cost any extra to call and clarify.
    I am the primary shopper since I am also the primary cook- but that’s because it’s my passion and joy. My husband does not enjoy shopping, but will do it when needed because he loves me. If he came home with a new schematic for my usual shopping trips, I would not be happy. Now if Trent does the majority of the shopping, then it’s his prerogative to create a new way to shop. It kinda sounds as if he’s accusing Sarah of ‘wasting time’ while she shops. Maybe it’s her break in the child care cycle to ‘waste time’ while shopping.

  47. Matt says:

    When I was fresh out of college, I had a very optimized list in a spreadsheet. I created categories based on the store layout, and prepopulated common items with a checkbox, also items from meals that I liked to eat regularly. Write in space for occasionals, or other things from my meal plans. As the person who did the shopping, it was a worthwhile use of my time.

    Trent just reminded me of it today – it’s been at least 5 years since I used such a list. We’ll see if my wife hates it as much as my old roommates did.

  48. Julie says:

    A pre-paid cell phone would have saved you a lot of time, Trent.

  49. Liz says:

    The grocery store has a web site with that week’s ad. I work the ad and then put in additional items not on ad. It does not take long at all.

  50. The 20K Mom says:

    The tone of tis post was a bit condecending to your wife, however, I appreciate the idea of a clear grocery list. When I send my hubby, i write up the list in order of the aisles of the store so that he won’t miss anything.

  51. nancy says:

    We don’t meal plan per se but we do have a good pantry and freezer to build from. The day before shopping we take stock of what we have and go from there. There is a few dollars in the budget for extras like if peanut butter is on sale. We also talk to each other and see if one is in the mood for something special. Communication is key. To Trent you plan seems to work for you but you should have looked at the list before leaving the house or called her to clarify. That’s what cell phones are for. And if you missed something is it really that tragic?? Yes you may have had to make a special trip but you could have improvised from your well stocked pantry.

  52. John S says:

    Geez you guys, I didn’t think Trent’s article was disparaging toward Sarah at all. To listen to some of you jump to her defense while lambasting Trent, one would think the entire article was a fuming rant about his wife’s personal failings as a list maker.

    On the contrary, his tone was not at all angry or derisive. He simply stated, impassionately, the problems he encountered while trying to grocery shop using the document that Sarah had prepared as a guide. He followed that by what he thinks could be improved next time and the lessons he derived from the experience.

    It wasn’t condescending or wife-bashing at all; I think some of you are reading WAY too much emotion into this post.

  53. John S says:

    Incidentally, I’d like to comment on the article itself, and not just on peoples’ reactions to it.

    I keep a separate list on my fridge for every store: the normal grocery store, the co-op, and Costco.

    I do think it’s a bit asinine to write down the name of a finished product on *any* document designed to be a shopping reference, rather than the names of individual ingredients. I don’t know what possessed either one of you to think that this was an acceptable practice in the first place. You don’t buy finished recipes at a grocery store, you buy ingredients.

    I am the primary cook in my household, but I work from home most of the time, and therefore, about half of the time, my wife will pick up the groceries we need, since she passes by two chain stores on her way home.

    When we decide she is going to do that, I usually email her the grocery list (straight from the fridge), and I DO rearrange the list on the email by category to make it easier on her. (All the produce first, followed by all the baking goods, canned goods, meats, refrigerables, and frozen foods.)

    Rebuilding and reorganizing the list like that, immedately before shopping, is the optimal strategy to make the shopper’s life easier. Doing it in an email editor is ideal, since you can insert and move things around with little effort and no mess, until you have them in the right order.

    Also, I like Nicole’s idea of using junk mail envelopes on which to keep the lists. I’ve done that in the past, but I keep acquiring little shopping-list-sized pads as gifts, faster than I can burn through them. Otherwise, I would be right there with you Nicole! :)

  54. Dawn says:

    I started this same sort of system a couple of years ago because dinner time at our house was bedlam and getting a healthy meal on the table was an act of Congress! With a week of meals organized in advance we eat healthy every night, I only buy the ingredients needed so we throw was less away and our grocery bill has gone down as an added bonus.

    While I whole heartedly admit I love the results, I do not love the actual time when I sit down and make the menu, it is one of my least favorite chores, but the effort is worth it.

    I do the shopping almost always, though when my husband does go, I put VERY specific info on the list so that we do not end up w. the situation Trent described. It works out.

  55. et says:

    I agree with Team Sarah. I do most of our shopping & normally organize the list according to the store’s layout. But, c’mon – several fruits & veggies but separated by other items? How about checking the rest of the list when you’re in one department. Does anyone really read one item at a time & track back & forth? At the most, I stop 1/3 to 1/2 way through the store & check my entire list to see if I missed something. I also agree with those who say you’ve now volunteered to take over the shopping & meal planning!

  56. Kathy says:

    I have a “rough draft” shopping list, which is an ongoing list I keep. I add things as I notice they are running low and when I plan my meals for the week. Then I create a “final draft” which I organize the items in order of where they are located in the grocery store. It saves time on the trip and then I don’t forget things. It may seem like overkill, but if you are familiar with the Woodman’s chain in Wisconsin and northern Illinois, you’d understand. :-)

  57. TibetanPeachPie says:

    My husband and I love foodshopping! We’ve chosen to be child-free, hence weekends are usually free & fun, and shopping at the market is our favourite thing to do on Saturday mornings. We are quite frugal and always stick to the budget, but prefer to buy fruits & veggies that are in season. Therefore, I plan the week’s meals after returning from the market, looking at the week’s purchases. We eat small amounts of fish and poultry, that we buy in bulk from a local farmer roughly four times a year.

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