Simple Systems: How to Make a Grocery List

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We know heading to the grocery store without a list or a plan is a recipe for overspending, but how can we make the process of making that grocery list less daunting and more simple?

During the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s 31 Days meme, writing about Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life.

From containing projects and other things to creating formulas for getting dressed and folding laundry, I’ll be sharing small, simple ways I reduce decision fatigue in my life at home.

Simple Home System: How to make a grocery list quickly

Having a standard master pantry list makes writing the grocery list a snap.

I used to try to make a grocery list at the same time I menu planned – sometimes the magic synergy happened and sometimes it was pulling teeth. I needed to pick dinners to fit the amount of time and energy available for the days of the week, work that week’s grocery store specials, match up recipes from my various collections, double check I had all the ingredients I needed, and write it all down adequately enough so at 5pm each day I knew what I was supposed to do.

Yeah.

We know heading to the grocery store without a list or a plan is a recipe for overspending, but how can we make the process of making that grocery list less daunting and more simple?

After baby #3, I decided this method was simply madness, and I had other projects I could do if I wanted to coordinate details. I decided what would be in my fridge, freezer, and pantry; I decided that I wanted to be able to buy any meat that was on sale at the store and know I could do something with it that didn’t require any extra or special ingredients; I decided to simply throw away all my recipes that didn’t match up with this new philosophy.

Eventually, after several years of working this system out for myself, I published it as Simplified Dinners. It’s made dinner take so much less energy and thought!

Pieces of this system

Once you have your master list, you can start with that and check it against what’s actually in your cupboards and fridge. I go through and cross out (if using paper) or delete (usually I’m making my list digitally) the items I see as I check. Then I’m left with what’s missing, and that’s my shopping list.

As long as I have the items on my master list, I know I can buy whatever meat is on sale and be able to make any of the meals in Simplified Dinners, several of which can even be made at the last minute. So this system has helped streamline my food-related processes a lot!

Once you have your master list, you can start with that and check it against what’s actually in your cupboards and fridge. I go through and delete the items I see. Then I’m left with what’s missing, and that’s my shopping list.

When you purchase both Simplified Dinners and Paperless Home Organization, you also receive the Evernote version of Simplified Dinners, which also comes with the Evernote version of the Simplified Pantry master grocery list.

How do you make grocery shopping simpler?

Simple Systems

Index: “Simple Home Systems
First: “What Is a System?” & “What Is Simple?
Previous: “Hanging kids’ coats
Next: Our “before we leave the house” list

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