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How a Master List Can Simplify Your Shopping Routine

grocery storeLooking for a little simplification for your household shopping? It can be easy to get overwhelmed with keeping track of all the stuff a household needs. You might feel like you’re re-writing the same shopping lists from week to week and yet your pantry and storage spaces are over-flowing with food and supplies you aren’t using, and somehow you’re out of some of the essentials!?!

The key to simplifying your shopping routine (and storage spaces) is to have a master list to work from. A master list saves you from wasting time and mental energy deciding what to buy and also keeps you from making random purchases that will end up stashed in your valuable storage space. The good news is that with a little effort, you can break the cycle!

A master list is simply a list of the essentials your household needs to run smoothly on a regular basis. It is not everything you could ever possibly need, but the basics that ensure your family and house are fed and clean. I suggest 2 master lists – one for groceries and one for home supplies (cleaning and personal care products). For your grocery list, go through your pantry, fridge/freezer and other storage areas and jot down everything that your family uses on a regular basis as a start to your list. Take a few minutes to think about what your family needs for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Keep in mind that less is more – you don’t need 10 choices for breakfast. You can always update your list when you need a refresh. For the home supplies list – review your medicine cabinets, cleaning supplies, and paper goods and make a list of the necessities. Again, keep it simple by questioning what you really need to have on hand.

After you make your initial lists, go back and review – simplify where you can and organize your lists to make your shopping easier. For the grocery list, this might mean organizing your list by section of the store, or perhaps by different stores depending on how you shop. Your list can be as high tech or low tech as you want. A simple paper list may be just fine, or you can use a list app if you prefer.

So how do you use your master lists after you’ve made them? Caution – do not simply go out and get all the items on your master list every time you shop! Instead, use your lists as a reference point to help you figure out what you actually need each time. Before you shop, go through your pantry, fridge, and other storage areas with your master list and simply make a note of (on paper or in your app) which items you need – either because you’re out of or you don’t have enough to carry you through until the next shop. If you’re using an app, this might be as simple as un-checking the items you need.

It’s also a good idea to have a rough schedule of when you do your shopping – this might mean weekly for groceries (preferably on the same day) and monthly for household items. Do what works for you – the point is to take the decision-making out of the process. Decide once and stick to it. Of course, change it up if you need to but one of the keys to simplifying your routines is to make fewer decisions that will sap your mental energy. And last but definitely not least, stick to your list when you shop! If you buy all sorts of extras, your master list efforts aren’t going to help. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever buy something that just looks yummy or try something new. Once you have your master lists in place, it’s easy to update them as needed as preferences and needs change. Bottom line – using your master lists will save you time, energy and space!