How to Write a Fast Grocery List

If you’re a busy person and want to minimize your time at the grocery store, you need a fast grocery list.

What’s a Fast Grocery List?

It’s a list that helps you get through the store in the shortest possible time.  In particular, a fast grocery list will:

  1. Keep you from revisiting aisles that you were just in, and
  2. Make it visually clear what’s left to find.

A fast grocery list can be written for any set of ingredients.  No change in diet required!  We’re just going to make you a lean, mean, grocery grabbing machine.

Goal #1: Keep You From Revisiting Aisles

Here’s an example of a fast grocery list before the trip to the store:

Fast Grocery List

The list has been organized the way the store is organized.  In this case the store entrance is at lower right.  When you enter, you get your shopping cart and pick up fruit first, because that’s the first thing you’re going to come across that’s also on your list.

Fast Grocery List Step One

You wind your way up and down the aisles, picking up everything you need in the optimal order.

Fast Grocery Shopping: Person on a Mission

Easy, right?

Goal #2: Make it Clear What’s Left to Get

As you go through the store, you want to take a pen and draw a big solid line past the items you get.  Don’t use check marks!  Check marks are just visual clutter!  After you’ve picked up fruit and salad, your list ought to look like this:

Fast Grocery List Marked Up

That makes it much easier to see where in the store you need to go, and where on the list you need to be looking.  After a real shopping trip, here’s what the crumpled, marked up list looked like:

Fast Grocery List All Done

Special Situations

The Meat Counter

Depending on your store, you’re going to want to give some thought to what you’ll do at the meat counter.  You might think chicken, for instance, will line up with the canned tomato aisle, but what if they move it?  You may wish to just get all the meat counter items at once and then backtrack a smidge to get back into the aisles.

Items Available at Checkout Only

Items purchased at checkout, like gift cards, impulse candies, and sometimes city trash bags require special attention.  You can write these on your list, but it’s too easy to head for checkout and think, “List all done!”  And then you don’t look at it again.

The recommended strategy here is, after you’ve done all your aisle shopping, to take your payment method (e.g., credit card) and do something to it (e.g., flip it around, or move it somewhere else).  That way, when the cashier tells you the total, you reach for your payment method and think, “Oh right, I also need a pack of city trash bags.”  Better late in check-out than after you’ve left the store!

So that’s the way to write a Fast Grocery List!

If you liked this advice, check out the extremely healthy recipe for General Doug’s Chicken.


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