The baseball player Yogi Berra was known for his malapropisms. For example, he once said, “We made too many wrong mistakes.” This brings me to my point which is that it’s definitely a wrong mistake to go grocery shopping without a list.
If you have a grocery list, you’re much less likely to do any impulse buying. The supermarkets are great at marketing. They know the tools and tricks required to get customers like you to spend more money than you had intended. The big supermarket chains like Kroger’s know exactly right down to the last square foot where to display the merchandise that’s most likely to catch your eye and your wallet. For example, it’s no accident that the expensive breakfast cereals are at eye level while the cheap, store brand versions are down at the bottom where they are difficult to see.
What you need vs. what you want
When you have a shopping list, you go to the store knowing what you need. This helps to differentiate between the things you need and the food you can do without. That rotisserie chicken may look great, sitting there slowly spinning on a spit, but if it’s not on your list you don’t need it.
Build your list around your meals
The secret to having a good list is to first figure out your meals for the week. Find some good dishes, write down the ingredients you will need that you don’t already have and put them on the list. Try to not buy ingredients you will use only one time.
If you make a list of things to buy at the grocery store, you’ll be much less likely to stray away from the meal essentials. However, you can be realistic and allow for some leeway. Just be sure to limit how many unplanned items you will buy before heading home–one, two or three unlisted items are plenty.
Another reason to have a list is that it will save you time as well as money. You can think of your shopping list as a roadmap. Instead of just aimlessly wandering through the aisles, looking for items, you will have a plan or map as to where you need to go. If you know the store well, you can even list items in order of which aisles you’ll find them on. For example, if the produce area is on the far right side of the store, you could list the fruits and vegetables on your list first and start there.
Make it easy
Creating and using a grocery list doesn’t have to be a tough job either as there are now smart phone apps designed to make creating and checking off items on a grocery list brain dead simple. I’ve even seen one that has a built-in barcode scanner, which you can use to build your list. You can use this app along with the camera on your smart phone to take pictures of food–if you would like. For that matter, there are even pre-made shopping lists that have done the work for you. You should be able to find one free that has a list of items already printed on it. Then all you have to do is run through the list and put a checkmark next to the items you know you need.
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