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Jan 26, 2013 11:02 AM

Survey: Do you decide your shopping list before or after getting in the stores?

Do you usually know what you want to get before you shop? Do you have a recipe of what you want to make before setting your foot into a supermarket or a street store? Or do you decide after you get to the stores?

A) Most of the time, I know what to get before entering the stores
B) Close to 50:50
C) Most of the time, I decide after I get there

My answer is: C

Long answer: Yes, sometime I know exactly what I want to get, especially when I want to execute a recipe, and yes, I often know what meat I want to get before I step into the stores. However, most of the time, I improvise my shopping list in the stores. For example, today I went to Chinatown, and I walked into a street market. I saw some very fresh okra and decided that I will definitely get the okra, and then based on that I scouted for celery, onions, bell peppers, and they all looked good. Finally, I bought my shrimps to make my gumbo. In other words, the vegetables dictated my recipe. This may be a slightly extreme case, but this behavior is common for me. I usually (not always) decide my shopping list after I get to the store and seeing the produces, sometime because of freshness, sometime because of price cut....etc

What about you?

Thank for sharing your experience and your thought.

P.S.: I am talking food shopping, not clothing or toy...etc.

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  1. I don't know if I could break it down into your A B and C choices. Closest to B I guess but I wouldn't go as far as saying it's actually 50/50. I always have some specific things I get from my list, but I do like having the option of changing direction from what is or is not available in the market(s).
    This is one of the reasons I don't currently belong to a food coop or a CSA - I live in an area with excellent food shopping choices and I don't like being stuck having to work with what I pre-ordered no matter how sub-optimal it may turn out to be.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ratgirlagogo

      Yeah, I totally understand what you are saying. For many items, they don't change much, like milk and egg, so I usually know before hand if I want to get milk or eggs. The supermarket eggs do not get "fresher" or "less fresh" for all I know. I do change my mind base on price though.

      For many items, like fishes and vegetables, I usually make up my mind after I get that. Even in a few occasions that I decided that I want to buy certain vegetables, I had changed my mind to NOT buy them after seeing them in person.

      It is just that I averaged out to be more close to C.

      1. I shop very similar to you. I like to get in the store and see what meat looks good, is marked down or on sale and I go from there. Then I think of at least two applications and call my sweetie and he makes the final decision. Say I decide on cubed steaks... I see if he wants chicken fried steaks or salsbury. The same holds true in the produce dept. What looks good determines what ends up in my basket. I also shop nearly every day to get everything fresh.

        1 Reply
        1. re: suzigirl

          <is marked down or on sale and I go from there>

          Yeah, I definitely do that too, especially for geek yogurt :)

        2. My answer is somewhere between A and B.
          I peruse the flyers for my local places and us that to decide where I will go, based on where what I need to get will be on sale.
          Then, at the store, I get what I need as well as a few other things that may not be "needed" but still a good deal.
          Just today I spied a deal on pickles that DH likes, as well as one on tapioca, which it turned out I was out of anyway.
          I also make produce/meat subs based on how good it looks when I get there.

          1. I keep a running list on my computer re: what I need to buy to stock up, what leftovers I have on hand, what's in the freezer, what's in the fridge, & what menus I have planned for the week. Thus my weekly shopping list is easy peasy.

            I not only know exactly what I have on hand & what I need, but it also makes it easier to change plans mid-stream if the market has an un-advertised special, or some other type of fish looks better than what I had planned for.

            I'm sure this not only saves us money, but allows us to eat what's at its best.