I can’t get out of the house on the first try (I am always running back inside to get one last thing I forgot on the first couple of tries). And I can’t seem to get home from the grocery store with all the stuff I need, which means a second trip … or a third one. Argh! Gas! Argh! Time! Argh! Frustration!

So a few years ago, I sat down, determined to stave off the “running to the grocery store for just one more thing” demon. I created a …. (are you ready?) … LIST! (Are you disappointed in my lack of creativity? Read on.)

This is no ordinary grocery list. It’s a customized list of the things I use and need to replenish regularly. AND it’s organized by the layout of my favorite grocery store. AND it’s attached to the front of my refrigerator so I can easily check off the items I need, then whisk it off to the store with me.

Yep, I finally mastered the grocery list! How did I do it?

I took a couple of hours to hunt through my pantry, fridge and freezer to find the things that are “must haves” in my kitchen. Then I did the same thing for cleaning supplies, and finally for bathroom necessities.

I ended up with a long list of things like flour and raw sugar and baby spinach and Campari tomatoes. And then there were things like toilet bowl cleaner and dishwasher tabs and paper towels. Then I added in some of our favorites from the deli like salmon from Costco. (I actually created a special section for my Costco purchases vs regular grocery store purchases.)

Then I did a little reconnaissance at the grocery store and mapped out the aisle where my faves lived. Finally, I organized the list in “aisle order” and put little check boxes in front of each item. It looks like this:

Microsoft Word - Grocery 2013 word.docx

Not everything fits on my list, of course, so I added some blank lines to add in “sometimes” purchases or to make notes to myself. I’ve edited the list as our tastes change (and as I try valiantly to lose weight!) but even after 10 years, the system still works pretty darned well.

I have trained everyone in my household to use the list. “Don’t tell me we are out of milk. Write it on the list!” “If it’s not on the list, I won’t buy it!”

Now my only issue is remembering to take the list with me. I do forget it occasionally, then I call Victor and he reads it to me! I’m thinking the next step may be to simply take a quick photo of the list on my phone so it’s with me all the time.

It could work. Possibly.

So, what’s YOUR favorite strategy at the grocery store?

Note: If you’d like a copy of my editable list in Word format, just drop me a note at linda@addiva.net