The idea of a pre-printed grocery shopping list always appealed to me, but in practice, it just never worked. I would forget to print the list, or I couldn't find it, or the templates I found were missing items I regularly bought. Well, I finally put about an hour of effort into my grocery list system, and it has been paying off ever since. The benefits so far:
- Everyone in the family knows where the list is and can add items throughout the week
- I no longer forget regular items that run out quickly
- I can coordinate my shopping and grocery coupons more efficiently
- I have my shopping list and menu plan in a single place (see below for details)
Here's why it has finally come together:
I customized the list. I found an editable grocery list template online (a Word document, not a read-only PDF) and spent about 15 minutes over about three weeks customizing it. Why three weeks? I drafted the first version, went shopping with it, updated, shopped, updated, shopped, and updated again. Now, it's just about right.
I created a specific place to display the list. I bought a little magnetic clip and keep the list hanging on a board in the kitchen, along with a magnetic pouch containing a pen and a highlighter. No more fumbling for paper or pens, or having to rewrite a misplaced grocery list. The whole family can now write on the list when they need to.
I "check off" items with a highlighter instead of a pen. Way easier to scan the list at the store when the items I need are called out in color. I use a pen to write one-offs on the list (items I buy too infrequently to merit a permanent spot).
The list is double-sided: grocery items on one side, and a menu plan on the other. I have found that an open-ended menu planning form works best for me — more of a lightly structured notepad than a grid of boxes. I write down not only what I plan to cook, but what's happening that day that will affect dinner (late after-school activity? Babysitting?), and any advance prep (soak beans, defrost something, etc.). Having this info with me when I shop makes it easier for me to make fast decisions when I see something in season or on sale.
(By the way, my printer can print double-sided pages. If yours doesn't, you can either print two pages, or take the pages to a copy shop and photocopy them on the double-sided setting.)
Convinced? Here's my downloadable grocery list template. Feel free to edit and share as you like.