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Do you keep an ongoing grocery list?

I do. I take a two-sided sheet of paper and on one side print the "ongoing" items on the top and make my regular list on the page. Then I transfer any outstanding ongoing items to the next page for the following week and so on. As you can tell I am a planner and like to plan ahead for meals. Many items on the ongoing list require a visit to a specialty shop a few hours' drive away. Or simply an expensive item that can wait to come on sale. Maybe I'm just a wee bit TOO organized...

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  1. I have an application on my Droid that allows me to keep a number of lists. I use one as a "master list" of everything we've bought, pretty much, then a secondary list of what I need now. The secondary list reads items already on the master list and auto-completes them. My SO thought a master spreadsheet would be easier, but I had a hard time actually using it while shopping.

    9 Replies
    1. re: tracylee

      What app is that? I have a pretty accurate internal list running in my head of what is in the pantry, what is running low and when to replace. I've tried automating the list with Springpad, but the app hasn't worked terribly well for me.

      1. re: JungMann

        It's called OurGroceries, and allows you to mark off items as you pick them up by just touching the item. You can also specify the amount you want. I'd tried another app that wouldn't store previously purchased items, so once marked off, you had to enter the item again.

        I like OurGroceries because if an item isn't available, or isn't at a price I like, I can leave it on the list for next time.

        1. re: JungMann

          JungMann, have you tried the Key Ring app to hold all your market courtesy cards? Coupons and specials are highlighted per card and CVS has a special deal with Droid to discount 50% off all scrips. All I do is present my Key Ring screen to the register attendant to receive any of my card discounts. Pretty handy and the master cards can stay at home.

          1. re: HillJ

            *i love you* for posting this. i've never heard of this before! going to download it for my iPhone right now...

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Such a handy little gizmo, ghg. I've saved some much time and energy, not to mention $$ @ CVS using this simply ingenious idea. Enjoy!

              1. re: HillJ

                okay, you're seriously my hero. i just downloaded it, entered all the info, and removed *twenty-two* (yes, 22!) cards & member tags from my wallet. i didn't expect them to have everything from frequent flyer & hotel preferred guest programs to gym memberships & AAA in there! awesome :)

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  right! I was surprised by the expansive list as well. And, you can request that Key Ring add accounts as needed. They just added shortcuts to the app so frequent cards can appear on the home page of your device. So far, I'm loving it too.

                  I'm not for keeping a grocery list on my device but I sure love a lighter wallet sans plastic cards. Now if we could get the sign up process device-friendly from the start that would we wonderful! Less plastic!

        2. re: tracylee

          noticing a lot of people keep it on the fridge/at home. i'd forget things every time if i did that because they pop into my head at random moments when i'm in the car or out & about. that's another benefit to keeping it on my phone - no matter where i am, i can add things to the list when i think of them...plus, it saves trees :)

          ETA: this was supposed to be a reply to the OP - no idea why it landed here.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I'm not adverse to electronic technology, I use it in many aspects of my life; it's just that using it to keep track of a grocery list is overkill to me. Plus, I use scrap paper for my list, so I do my part to be green. :)

        3. We are old fashioned. There is a sheet of paper on the frig. When we notice something is low, we write it on the paper. This becomes our shopping list.

          4 Replies
            1. re: davmar77

              I too do the fridge list. It it ain't broke, don't fix it.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                Yep. Us, too. And we do our shopping on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Tuesdays are for T, W and Th; Saturdays are for S, Su and M. (We eat out on Fridays.) Meal decisions are made for us by what comes up in a pair of Rolodex-type indexes. Each index contains roughly 150 dishes.

            2. re: Janet

              Me too, except it's on a magnet board next to the fridge. House rule is first person to find they need something when I go to the grocery next starts that week's list.

            3. What I normally do is I basically "inventory" what's not in the kitchen before I head to Shaw's. I'm not much of a planner, I kind of work on the fly.

              1. i keep it on my iPhone, broken out by location - TJ's, Costco, Co-Op, Sprouts, Smart & Final, Farmers' Market, etc.

                certain items stay on there permanently because i get them pretty much every time i go, others get added & deleted accordingly.

                3 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  We have a white board in the kitchen that we write things on when getting low. I also print out recipes for what we will be eating for the week and bring those along when shopping so that I make sure I have all the ingredients that I will be needing.

                  1. re: debw1946

                    We have a whiteboard at home too. Before we go shopping, we snap a picture of the whiteboard with our iPhone.

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I do the same thing with my iPhone, but I generally add and delete manually.

                  3. Actually, while I don't normally do New Year's resolutions, I did promise myself that this year I would try to have a running list..... We shall see. What I did do over break was photocopy my most used recipes (from cookbooks) and created shopping lists for each one. I now have those handy whenever I want to cook or bake something that I have made before. Much easier than re-doing the list each time!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rjlebed

                      You know, I think you just got me to make a similar resolution. My habit is to shop every day for immediate needs plus ongoing, all on the same list, and if the ongoing includes something we won't need for a week or so, after a while I'll forget to add it. Then Mrs. O will ask if I ever got her ginger ales or some cat food when it's wanted RIGHT NOW and I have to go get it.

                    2. I keep a white board on the fridge so I can immediately note when things run out/low, and then transcribe that to a paper list or my iPhone for actual shopping.

                      I don't have a car, so I do a "big shop" every 3 weeks or so (and get a Zipcar or take a cab home). Some items are always the same for this one, and it's kept in my iPhone as a separate list: gallon of OJ, lots of canned beans/tomatoes, cartons of broth, bottles of seltzer, multiple packs of paper towels, cat litter-basically, any staples I always use that are a pain to carry home.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: LeoLioness

                        You could take a photo of the whiteboard with your iPhone. Save the time of transcribing.

                        1. re: Cathy

                          Ah, but the white board list is combined with my "this week" list (which I make up on the fly, as I decide what to cook that week).

                          And this list is then re-organized into a list that is written according to the store's layout.

                          Other than this, I am a fairly normal person!

                      2. wow... you all seem way more organized than I... but I work from home and must say am blessed with pretty much everything I need within a 10 minute walk (5 bakeries, 1 large supermarket, 4 vegetable stores, amazing butcher, 2 fishmongers, cheese shop etc) ... I do scribble things onto a piece of paper if I have more than 5 items to pick up.... so for me it's daily walks picking what I need for the day.

                        1. No ongoing actual list, but there are certain things I always buy. Milk, apples, choc syrup, flour, sugar (if on sale), onions.

                          1. I keep my grocery list via an iPhone app. I usually have my phone with me and it's easy just to check what's needed. You do have to remember to turn things on and off.

                            Pre-smart-phone era, I made up a master shopping list on paper. One was pinned to the refrigerator and when we ran out of something, it was circled on the list. When I did the big shopping on the weekend, I'd grab the list and take it to the store.

                            Lots of people asked me where I got the list! It was a real lifesaver when I was a single mom working a full time job.

                            The secret to me is avoiding the transfering of info from one sheet to another.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: 512window

                              Which app do you use? I've tried a few different ones a while back and most of them are too clumsy to use that I just switch back to the good ol' "Notes" app or write emails to myself. I'd be willing to try a new app if they've improved since then.

                              1. re: arlenemae

                                It's called (imaginatively) Groceries

                                1. re: arlenemae

                                  For a while I was using Zip List on my iphone. But honestly, after a few weeks, I went back to plain old paper and pen sitting next to my laptop on my desk in the kitchen. This way when I am figuring out what to make for dinner that week (plus kids lunches), I just write down what I need.

                                  If I am doing a major, major shop, like before a holiday that I am hosting, I keep an excel spreadsheet and take that with me to the store.

                                  If I am out and think of something that I need, I will send myself an email with a reminder....

                                  1. re: valerie

                                    i tried ziplist too and hated it. too tedious, and it always dropped things into the wrong category and i'd have to go back in and change each one manually.

                                2. re: 512window

                                  Your custom shopping list idea is inspiring me to make my own version.

                                  I have a smart phone but still find paper the most versatile way (especially that my shopping list tend to be in multiple languages, sometimes even with diagrams). Except that I keep having to create or maintain multiple copies, and losing some of them, because I am on the go all the time and life is hectic. I actually have to date each list, just so to see which one is the latest one, when faced with multiple copies!

                                  1. re: vil

                                    Hope it works. You might try double-siding it.

                                    I didn't use it for everything I shopped for - just groceries and drug store items. I laid it out in columns with white space between items so that I could write in special details. Like if I had circled milk, I might write in 2 gal if I needed more than usual.

                                    1. re: 512window

                                      Thanks! I actually came up with my first version and printed some copies. I used half a regular sheet for each copy, hoping that the smaller size means less tattering. Also divided it into horizontal sections by store type. Items are separated by space, with several per line, so they might take up more space than if the sections were in columns, as in your version. I do leave space in between sections, to scribble in the less common items. So far it seems to put an orderly touch to my otherwise out-of-control lifestyle :)

                                      Will consider using your column layout if I feel the need to fit more items in.

                                3. I keep a list on the fridge. If it ain't on the list, it doesn't get bought, so people know to put something on the list when it runs out!

                                  I then use the list for my internet shopping, or write it out again on an old envelope if I'm going to a real shop. I write the list in order of the aisles I visit, so fruit and veg first, then dairy and groceries which is how my local shop is laid out. This way I don't have to keep on scanning a list to make sure I've got all my fruit when I'm in the fruit section, for example.

                                  I also keep secondary lists for specific stores.

                                  1. For potential buys I just write it down on a post-it.

                                    As for organization, I take the receipt from each trip I make and input it into a spreadsheet with the place of purchase, price and quality/thought of the item. So, I know where I should go next time for purchase of a particular item.

                                    1. I keep mine on my Droid via a note sharing system my husband can access on his iphone (it is called Evernote) or we can access via our PC at home. Either of us can add or delete from the shopping list and it will sync up. No losing paper, no wasting paper, and I always have my list on me.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: mels

                                        I use my Droid app ("Our Groceries") too, with main categories: Walmart, Costco, Farmers Market, Weekly Groceries, Rona, etc.. So it's not just for groceries. The one thing I do that everyone thinks is so obessive and anal, every Sunday I make a list of what my significant other and I will be eating each week (Mon-Sunday), including each of our lunches and dinners. I base this 'master plan' on what we have in the freezer, fridge or pantry first and come up with meal plans from that, so that I can rotate my food. Then I create my weekly grocery list from what we plan to eat.

                                        Nuts?!? I know... but you'll never find a 3 year old can of anything in my house and I rarely have to throw out fresh vegetables!

                                        1. re: TSAW

                                          I don't think it's super anal at all! Every Wednesday evening I check my fridge/freezer, then sit down with the online ads for my local grocery stores and plan out my meals for the week. I draw a little 3x7 grid with space for each meal during the week, then fill in my plans for each day using what I already have on hand and the weekly specials as my guide. I started this system during my first year out of grad school when I had a $40/week budget to cover groceries, eating out, and entertainment. I'm on better financial footing now, and have a bit more money to play with (now $100 week for food and fun), but I'd rather not spend more money than I have to on food when I know I can eat quite well on so little.

                                          1. re: mpjmph

                                            haha.. there are others of 'us' out there!! I love it!

                                            I do the grid thing too! I make a diagonal slash from corner to corner on the lunch section rectangles; top for me, bottom for him... I have better ways to spend my money than on wasted food! Like wine, which never is wasted!

                                        2. re: mels

                                          I love Evernote! At first I was using it to cut & paste recipes and various work articles to one handy syncable file but yes, it has so many applications!

                                        3. We keep a pad and pen tucked on top of the microwave and we both try very hard to write things down when they need to be purchased. (We used to just put empty cartons/boxes/bags on the counter which was a good visual reference but too cluttered.) We have never done this before but always just believed we would remember--now the only tough part is remembering to take the list! But since we rarely shop together, there's usually someone at home to read it through the phone.

                                          1. I keep a doc on my PC (word format) and have the "standard" things on the list in an "isle" order for what we usually buy. I use the Cross out feature for what we don't need that week, and add things we do. I also have some normal 8 1/2 x 11 sheets cut in half for my printer just for shopping lists. Saves all the time of transfer from the fridge list. DH usually does the shopping, so it is pretty easy to print the list out for him.

                                            1. Nope; never really did, never really see the point of it!!

                                              ahhhh !! the blissful joy of being single and living close to about everything I need!, so if I forget something, I just can go back and get it, or wait the next day if not essential.

                                              Even when I make a list, I tend to either forget it somewhere, or re-do it when wandering the market aisles.


                                              1. I have preprinted list (http://www.amazon.com/Magnetic-Shoppi...) and check off things as they run out. I like the preprinted because just glancing over the categories reminds me of things that I need to check on. I guess I could make my own, rather than buy, but I'm kind of lazy that way.

                                                Isn't there someone on Chow who has made a pre-printed list broken down by grocery store aisle? Jfood, maybe?

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                  I don't do anything that sophisticated, but when making my final grocery list I order the items to correlate with the layout of the grocery store so that item 1 is close to item 2, which is close to item 3, etc.

                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                    I used to do that as well, until my grocery store renovated about a month ago and moved everything around. I've been a disorganised mess since then and can't find anything. To top it off , they have not updated the aisle signs yet so even harder to find things. They must be sitting there watching the regulars and laughing at us going back and forth ten times to find one thing.

                                                    1. re: fryerlover

                                                      Some stores periodically rearrange their goods precisely to force the regulars to wander around, in the hope that said regulars will see new stuff to buy. There was a Wegman's in Princeton, New Jersey that was terrible about doing this. As if life in Jersey isn't stressful enough already!

                                                  2. re: Sooeygun

                                                    Um ::sheepishly:: yes, me. It's all on one though -the different stores, I've also been known to use my phone. List is broken down according to how I move through the store. It happened innocently enough... I just hated crisscrossing back and forth because i had forgot something or rereading the list over and over to make sure I got it all.

                                                  3. I have been using Smart Grocery for Droid and so far I like it. It has categories for different stores, also departments within a grocery store (ie: baking supplies, dairy, etc). It also stores things you previously put in so it pulls them up as you type. You can also recycle a list by just unchecking items you need again so they show up on the "shop" portion of the list. You can also have multiple lists. So I keep one that is "weekly grocery" with the big list and other smaller lists for short trips to town or specialized shopping at another store or for non food things. The only downside is others in the house never tell me we need something when my phone is around so I forget. I may still need to keep a pad stuck to the fridge for the things they find we need.

                                                    1. And I'm way too disorganized- I find shopping lists to be really stifling. If we need some things, yes, but I need to feel free to improvise based on what I see that's good. I do NOT stick to the list, because it's a shell of what we're out of. The rest is right brain activity for me.

                                                      1. I use the Bread and Milk app on my iPhone. Works pretty well. I reorganized the categories to correspond to the aisles, in order, at the store I usually shop at so I can just go down the list as I do my usual circuit of the store. For things that I keep on the list permanently, I just don't bother to tap that they have been purchased. That way they are always there on the list to remind me.

                                                        IMO, once you start using a decent app, you'll never go back to scraps of paper.

                                                        There is another shopping app that I downloaded because it got good reviews. It's called GroceryIQ. Uses barcode technology to keep track of prices. But I've never bothered to set it up and actually use it. Does anyone use this app, and if so is it worth the trouble to set it up?

                                                        1. I have been doing it to some extent, although somewhat differently. On my sheet of paper, I have implicit sections for different stores: generic grocery store, ethnic grocery store, health food store, butcher etc. I jot down items in the corresponding sections as they come to my mind, and when any section gets large enough to be efficient (or urgent), I plan a trip to the store(s), trying to schedule it to combine errands as much as possible to save on time and driving.

                                                          Also, just like the OP, at the bottom of the sheet, I also maintain a list of non-urgent items that I would like to get but can wait for, either because it is very out of the way or more pricey, and I can wait until it goes on sale or when my threshold for luxury items goes down.

                                                          I cross out things as they are filled, and transfer any outstanding ones to a new sheet when the sheet of paper gets too tattered, or when I run out of room on it.

                                                          This works quite well except that I keep having to start multiple copies (because I sometimes forget to bring the latest list with me when on the go, or I lose it altogether). I also do not like the time spent on having to transfer the outstanding items, sometimes over and over. Any suggestions on improving on that?

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: vil

                                                            +1 on coming up with a better method of transfering ongoing items. Not that it's difficult - there may be a better way of doing it!

                                                            In my initial post I neglected to mention the list is broken down into individual stores in columns like you mention, vil. I then cross out the items when they are purchased as well. Our tattered lists must look similar! Keep putting it in my purse, then transfer to my winter coat pocket, then to my jeans pocket... :-)

                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                              So true about the transferring! I generally lose about 5% of my lists when running the errands :-\

                                                              As you might see up-thread, I just came up with my very first (mostly) printed version and it is currently under trial. Hopefully, the more compact size because of the printed text means there is less folding or tattering!

                                                          2. You folks are hilarious! Taking pics of chalkboards with your phone and having grocery list apps. I only make a list around the holiday. I grab a used envelope from the burn bucket by the fireplace. I always add eggs, milk, chips and greens to my cart assuming they high demand and will not be wasted. I love to shop because I inevitably bump into at least one friend or neighbor. Don't mind going twice.

                                                            1. I don't have an iPhone, and I don't drive so I can't just pop into the car and go and get one or two items. Once a week, my husband takes me to the megamart. I use a post-it-note pad; I remove the back and place one sheet adhesive side-to-adhesive side, so I can write on both sides of the pad (which fits in any pocket). On one side, I write what we are getting low on, underlining what we're out of. On the reverse, I write down what's on sale at the 2 local megamarts and the drug store including the prices (this way I can see that while both stores have short ribs on sale, one is asking 4.99/lb and the other is asking 5.99.
                                                              It's low tech, but it works for me.