I’m willing to accept the fact that I might be a total wierdo for actually enjoying grocery shopping. But I do enjoy it. I have a routine and I stick to it, which allows me to buzz in and out in no time flat and leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling of productivity.
Granted, my grocery list is also much smaller than it used to be, thanks to my alternative methods for procuring foodstuffs. Those other methods usually take the form of interesting outings and expeditions, but I always keep my actual grocery shopping quick and simple.
Shopping with a list is, of course, the first step.
Walking up and down every aisle pulling items that catch your eye–which I just might have done in college–takes FOREVER and costs way too much. But I also discovered that the kind of list you make matters, too.
I made grocery lists with no categories at all, which inevitably had me retracing my steps for something I’d overlooked.
I tried including every category (“eggs and dairy,” “meat,” “baking goods,” etc.), but that took too long to write out and was confusing to consult.
I organize my list differently now, and somehow just this one trick has really simplified my shopping. This is what I do: I divide my list into four categories: “Cold,” “Dry,” “Produce,” and “Miscellaneous.”
This allows me to pick up items of like kind while I make a circuit of the outer rim of the store, popping in to the inner aisles for dry goods. I never plan much in the produce category, just a few items we need for recipes plus any staples we’re out of (like potatoes or carrots). The rest of the produce we buy is determined by what’s on sale or clearance. The “Miscellaneous” category is for the odd pack of batteries we need or cough drops or something.
I only shop at two stores, Aldi and Meijer. I go every other week, which takes a little bit of extra planning, but saves time and gas. By now I know what each store carries so I bring one list for both, knock them out in an afternoon, and return home in time to change ingredients into supper.