Shopping Lists Make Life Simpler

shopping lists

You’ll Save Time and Money When You Use Shopping Lists

It might seem a little weird to start a minimalist living blog with the topic of shopping lists.  After all, aren’t we trying to cut back on shopping?

Contrary to what you might think, you’ll actually buy less stuff when you use shopping lists.  Have you ever ended up with way too much toothpaste because while you’re at the store, you can’t remember if you need more?  If you keep a list, you’ll know.

You’ll also save time and money by making fewer visits to the store since you won’t have to make extra trips to buy the things you forgot.  Finally, if you stick to the list, you’ll avoid impulse buys.

Decide How Best to Keep Your Shopping Lists

If you don’t already keep shopping lists in set places, start today.  How you do this will depend on how often you go shopping, where you regularly shop and who else needs access to the lists.

In our house, we keep a grocery list on the fridge.  Anyone who sees that we’re nearly out of something is responsible for writing it on the list.  We also have a list for things we usually buy at the discount store, and that’s always kept on the desk.

These two lists take care of our regular shopping, but if we have other needs (say, items from the hardware store), they’ll be put on new shopping lists kept with one of the others so we don’t lose or forget about them.

You can also use a list app on your smart phone, and many of those apps can be synced with lists on your computer as well as other family members’ smart phones.

Some of the more popular shopping-list apps are Grocery IQ, Our Groceries, Remember the Milk and Out of Milk.  These and the other list apps have different features, so make sure you read about several apps before choosing one.

If you have a big family and use paper lists, you might prefer to make your own master grocery list or use a print-out like one of those available here.

Be sure you keep your lists in the same places all the time.  If you don’t, they won’t make your life any easier.

Take a Quick Inventory Before You Shop

Before you leave to go shopping at a particular store, make sure everything you need from that store is on the list.

For groceries, do a quick inventory of the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  I make a menu for the upcoming week and write down what we need to buy specifically for those meals, as well as staples like milk and bread.

I also ask the rest of the family members if there’s anything they want that they haven’t yet put on the list.  Occasionally something is forgotten, but we rarely have to go to the store more than once a week.

If you’re going to the hardware store for a project, mentally complete the project to make sure you have everything you need.  If you do this before you leave for the store, you’ll be able to check to see whether you already have enough sandpaper instead of having to buy some “just in case.”

Organize Your Shopping Lists

For the quickest shopping trip, you should separate groups of grocery products according to where in the store you’ll find them.  Have separate sections for fresh produce, dairy products, canned goods, frozen items, baking supplies, etc.

The same plan applies for other shopping trips.  For example, if you’re going to the hardware store, group electrical together and plumbing together.

Most apps already have a built-in method for sorting items.  If you’re using paper instead, take a few minutes to rewrite your list before you leave for the store.  It will save you from having to double back through the store to pick up items you missed.

Lists Help Reduce Mental & Physical Clutter

Creating a new habit of keeping shopping lists is your first step to minimalist living.  You’ll no longer have to clutter your head trying to remember what you need to buy or clutter your home with impulse buys and “just in case” purchases.

Today, if you don’t already have a good system for keeping shopping lists, take a few minutes to either choose and download a list app or to put paper and pen where you want to keep your lists.

Next comes the hard part:  remembering to consistently use your lists .  To help, make sure you keep paper lists where you’ll see them regularly and put list apps on the home screen of your phone.