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Shopping lists: Running lists? Paper & ink? Laminated?

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Hi all. Chemicalkinetics posted a survey about how you decide what to buy in a store (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/887936).

I confessed that I finally see the light in having a running list. You know, milk, bread, eggs, etc.

Do you have a running list? What format is it in? I was thinking of laminating mine and writing on it with a dry erase marker. But would that smear?

Or maybe I should print out a paper list with my most frequently bought items and blank lines for thing I need for certain recipes.

When I lived with my sis, we used an old envelope. We wrote our list on the outside and kept any coupons on the inside. Weren't WE green? :o

)

How do you make YOUR shopping list?

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  1. I post my shopping list in my Palm PDA, which goes wherever I do. People don't carry Palms so much any more, but anything portable will do - an iPad or smartphone or whatever.

    7 Replies
    1. re: John Francis

      Wait a minute, are you using a Palm Pilot, circa many years ago? I remember when they came out. I had the 'wants' really bad but never bought one.

      I've tried several electronic 'to do' lists and still myself using slips of paper (I don't like Post It Notes). I don't have my old Rolodex however.

      1. re: John E.

        I've owned one Palm or another since the '90s, and am nursing a Zire72 for as long as its battery will last. Without it I'd be lost. In fact, I've already replaced it once thanks to eBay.

        1. re: John Francis

          Have you thought about using an iPod Touch?

          1. re: John E.

            Nope. My Zire ain't broke, it does everything I need, and I'm used to it. Some people drive vintage cars, I use a vintage PDA. :-)

            1. re: John Francis

              Whatever works--but I do hope you have an exit strategy (like an export of your essential data, your address book for example, in a format that is readable by other means besides the Palm software). Because one day your Zire is going to die, and it's going to be vintage enough that even eBay won't come to the rescue.

              1. re: John Francis

                Actually, I think it is an interesting way to go, as long as you have your data backed us as suggested by MsMary.

                A few years ago I heard of a lady who was still keeping the books for her small flower shop using a Commodore 64.

                1. re: John Francis

                  I, too, still use a Zire 72. It is my calendar and alarm clock, my address book, and it makes a swell notebook (you gotta learn how to write in graffiti though). I use the blootooth connection to back it up.

        2. Running list on my Blackberry. I'd be lost without it.

          1. A pad of blank paper. I write things on it in ink from time to time. It's stuck on the side of the refrigerator with a magnet, which gets transferred to a new pad when necessary.

            For a time, my wife experimented with a preprinted list on which we would circle things (and write in others), but it didn't work very well.

            1. heh-- my list is usually scrawled on the back of an envelope (recycling, of course -- yeah, that's it).

              Sometimes it actually makes it to the store with me.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sunshine842

                +1

                I write the most beautiful shopping lists in the world and they're alwats there waiting for me when I return home from the store........

              2. It's on my iphone notes, it's a semi-running list and is kinda, sorta broken down by which store I would tend to buy the items. Sometimes I forget to update the list, and I always, always buy more than what's on the list... I have bad shopping habits.

                1 Reply
                1. re: calmossimo

                  Oh yea, to me the list is a guide. I need these things on the list but other things will inevitably find their way into the cart. Often if I am undecided on a meal when I have to go shopping, I will make separate lists for each meal and decide when I get there.

                2. I like to write an elaborate list and then leave it on the kitchen counter.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    +1

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      +2

                    2. re: Sal Vanilla

                      I did the same. Now I have a toddler who grabs the list and brings it along..."mama need this"

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        Can your toddler train mine to do this?? :o

                        1. re: truman

                          Haha :) she'd be glad to

                    3. I use the back of an old envelope. I used to print out basic lists on letter size paper, using the back of used paper or scrap brought home from the office but came to the conclusion that was an over-wrought solution to a couple of simple problems.

                      I try to organize the list according to the layout of the store were I do my shopping most of the time; there will be separate sections, maybe on the reverse, for special shopping such as TJs, WF, CM, Super H Mart, etc., that I go to less often or even for chain stores that I go to less often.

                      A list might last me a couple of weeks before I need to make a new one. It only takes a minute or two at most to copy to a new list what hasn't been taken care of on the old one.

                      The list is kept in an out of the way spot on the kitchen counter.

                      After a list has been 'used up' it can still be put in the paper recyclables.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: brucesw

                        I do the same. I get a weekly circular that comes in a large-ish white envelope. Peruse the flyer, jot down the specials I can use, and add the list of things I'm running low on. There's enough room for different columns according to store. Coupons, groupons, etc. go inside the envelope, which I make sure to put into my purse before leaving the house. Simple and efficient.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          After I make a list of sale items from the weekly flyer, I put it in my wallet. If I need to add something, at least I know where it is! If I forgot it somehow, I'd probably drive home to get it before shopping, I'm sort of obsessed with my shopping list. Oh yes to answer the actual question, just hand written on whatever scrap paper is close by.

                        2. re: brucesw

                          I separate my list by store and keep it on my counter with a pen next to it. I keep adding items till i go shopping. Day of shopping, I rewrite the list of stores I'm going to according to aisle. Example- supermarket- produce, cereal, ingredients, cleaning, dairy- that's how the store is arranged.

                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            This seems to be one way I'm different from most. I have my list, but like to shop free form first; then consult to see what I missed. Because I do remember most of it, but without the list I'd forget the one or two most important things!

                            1. re: coll

                              This is usually my tactic. I always go with a list but then browse and before I check out make sure that even if I got extra stuff that the must haves on the list are in the cart. And, you're right, I have often left the store without remembering to consult my list and think that I have remembered everything and realize that somehow I forgot the ground beef to make tacos.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                I hate that.
                                Usually means tacos get pushed off to last night, and I go freezer diving for tonight.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Thankfully we live close to a few grocery stores so I can swing by another on the way home if I remember, but if I'm home then the motivation to get in the car again is very low and can be quite frustrating especially if you were really looking forward to the meal. I think for me the weather and how much I wanted the meal determine whether I'll get in the car to go to the store 10 minutes away.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    that's the biggest thing -- once I'm home, I'm loathe to run out again.

                        3. I tried Google Docs once and then it all went to hell when I could barely get a signal at the market. And using the Google Docs app drained my battery pretty much even before I left anyway. UGH.

                          Back to paper for me! No running list. Um, I guess I pretty much use that envelope method!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Violatp

                            Yea, I use Google Docs but as I posted below I write it out in a paper list when I go to the actual store as accessing the Docs from my phone while shopping is not only annoying but drains the battery and you are lost without a signal which is the case in the back of most of the grocery stores around here.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              To make it even worse, it was actually the Thanksgiving list! I'd tried Google Docs because I was working with my sister on the meal, so we thought it would be cool to be essentially networked on the document. That part went very well - it was just the execution of the actual shopping list that suuuuucked.

                              At heart, I think I'm a luddite when it comes to some things, though. I like paper.

                              (she says as she types on an internet chat thread using her laptop - heh)

                          2. I use a shopping app on my iphone.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: rasputina

                              Same here. I use the OurGroceries app, and love it. The app saves a list of everything I've ever purchased, with frequently purchased stuff at the top, and everything else is searchable. Just tap to add to the list. Items are sorted by section of the store, which is customizable. I can keep separate lists for different stores, and move an item from one list to the other if needed.

                              1. re: mpjmph

                                I need to find a new app, I hate the one I use. I just want to be able to make separate lists for each store and create custom items. No coupons, no 50 million brand name choices to choose from, no in app ads ect.

                                Right now I'm using Grocery IQ and I hate it. I've also used grocery zen.

                                1. re: rasputina

                                  I use Pepperplate on the phone.

                                  1. re: rasputina

                                    I've been using OurGroceries for several years, and still really like it. It comes preloaded with a basic master list, and you can add anything you want. Just type it in once, and it's saved for future use unless you specifically delete it from the master list.

                                    I know several people who use and like Remember the Milk.

                                    1. re: rasputina

                                      I recommend Shop Shop.

                                      1. re: dmjordan

                                        I also recommend ShopShop. I have it set up on Mrs Monkey's iPhone and our lists sync so we always know what we need.

                                        http://www.trustedreviews.com/shopsho...

                                    2. re: mpjmph

                                      I've been using OurGroceries for years. I love it. My phone is always handy to add things to. Almost everything is stuff I've bought previously, so they're easy to add. A "wish list" of a few items always stay on it so that I don't forget to look for those items if I might be in a store that could stock them. My only problem is if my phone battery dies!

                                      1. re: tracylee

                                        I upgraded my phone last week, and am happy to say that OurGroceries works great on both Droids and iPhones. Lists can easily be shared, and crossed off items stay available to uncross and add back in. And it's free.

                                    3. re: rasputina

                                      I use Grocery IQ. It keeps a running list of items and I either add it to the weekly purchase or uncheck it if I don't need it. Better yet, I fill it out on my laptop at home and DH can just pick up what I need on the way home by looking at his phone. I use an android phone. We love it. It works for other things too. I have it set up by store and each one is set up by isle. So I have our local supermarket, penzeys, fred meyer, bi-mart (they often have canned goods on sale), umajawaya, etc. each set up as it's own store in the same app. Love it.

                                      1. re: rasputina

                                        I'm so low brow, I just use the notepad on my iphone. I'll have to check out these apps.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          I think you must mean low tech.

                                      2. We have a running list on a paper pad stuck to the fridge. I regularly take a picture of it with my phone so that I have it when I stop at the market.
                                        Beats trying to remember and ending up with 4 pounds of Allspice because I "remembered" it was on the list last month.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Motosport

                                          Yes, I bought vanilla extract twice. Ack.

                                        2. I have a pad of paper magnetized to the fridge that I write on. The issue there is I don't have it with me if I have the random opportunity to stop at the store after work.

                                          If/when I get a smartphone again, I will probably keep a running list on that so I have it where ever I am.

                                          1. I have a pad of pre-printed lists. I like being able to scan the pre-printed items to remind me of things I might have forgotten to add at the time they ran out.
                                            http://www.knockknockstuff.com/catalo...

                                            I know I could make something similar or photo-copy this one when I run out, but I like the heavy magnet for the fridge and the heavy paper. I use the back for the non-grocery store list.

                                            And it makes me sing Air Supply with grocery lyrics...I'm all out of flour, can't make biscuits without it...

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Sooeygun

                                              OK, I'm not really liking Sooeygun for that damn earworm that has been planted.....

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Sorry....I won't tell you what my current earworm is. It's been stuck there for 2 days...

                                              2. re: Sooeygun

                                                That's what I use. It's a yearly stocking stuffer from my mom. This year she also got me the vacation/suitcase packing pad.

                                              3. Running list on the iPhone

                                                1. I keep a running list each week on Google Docs. If I am not near a computer or run out of something that I use frequently while cooking, then I write it on the white board on the refrigerator and add it to the google doc. When I go to the store, I write a paper list as I work better on paper and then don't have to continuously unlock the phone and what not. For quick trips for example if I forget something and remember while at the gym I will make a quick list on the many post it notes that are sprinkled in most of my bags and in the car.

                                                  1. Funny, I just finished making my list :)

                                                    First I make my meal plan (start working on it on Mondays for the following Saturday-Friday), and I try to base it on what's in the freezer or what I need to use up. So like tonight I'm making a mac n cheese with pepper jack, cause I know I have a big hunk of it to use up. On Wednesdays, I look at the store ads. I take a piece of paper from the scratch paper at work and on the left hand side, write down the items of interest from each store. If there's something especially good on sale, I might alter my meal plan based on that item. Then, after I go through the ads, on the right side of my paper, I have a section for each meal, and I go through the recipes and write down what is needed for each one. Off to the side I'll write stuff that's not part of a recipe, but is for my breakfast/snacks or something SO requests... stuff like his milk if he's out, creamer for coffee, granola bars, my Newtons cookies, english muffins etc. I also look through the electronic coupons attached to my store card to see if something that I'd like to buy is expiring soon. If it is, I'll add it to the list as well.

                                                    Then, at the end of the week (I shop Friday evening/Sat morning for the most part), I take the list of needed items and take another piece of paper, and create a list for each store I plan on going to. This week there's only one store so I write out the list in groups based on how I go through the store. I check off the items from my "needed" list when I put them on the new list. Then once that's done, I look back through my list of sale items and if there's anything else that looks good I'll add that. So like this week they have Hefty ziploc bags for 99 cents and ground turkey for 2.99 for a 19 oz package, and those are good prices, so even though I don't need them right now I'll buy them.

                                                    I really really really hate going to the store in the middle of the week after work so this approach prevents me from forgetting an important item.

                                                    I actually previously used this little notebook that had envelope style dividers on the inside cover, for coupons. But lately I haven't been using too many coupons so I sort of abandoned the use of it.

                                                    1. I buy a long, narrow, lined notepad with a magnet attached to the back, and that is stuck on the side of my refrigerator, which is right next to my food prep counter. I keep a pen in the drawer closest to the notepad. So as I am cooking and find an item that I'm about to use up, I reach into the drawer, grab the pen, and write it on the notepad. Immediately. Otherwise I'd never remember anything. Then on shopping day, I tear that sheet off and sit down at the table with my cooking plan for the week. I review every item in every recipe, check the cupboards/fridge/freezer to see if I have or need each item, and add to the list the specific items I need for that week. Then I ask DH if there's anything he wants/needs, and I'm off to the store. The only time this might fail me is when I run out of something used in the bathroom/bedroom, which is upstairs, and I forget to write it on the list when I get downstairs. But that doesn't happen very often.

                                                      1. Running list as I'm either nearing being out of something or when I run out of something.

                                                        Format is based on approximate aisle location in the store. Upper left gets produce, work my way down the left hand side with spices/herbs, canned goods, pasta. The upper right starts with toiletries, paper goods, baked goods and dairy. The middle is usually frozen foods and/or meats. Coupons get paperclipped to the back so I have them to use at the store.

                                                        This is the method my Mom used as long as I can remember, and I just picked it up from her, as we were told when we were young where to right something on the shopping list.

                                                        1. Sorta a hybrid of what others have said. There's stuff I need every week--greek yogurt, eggs, fresh veggies.

                                                          But then I wing it. I look around and see what the specials are in the meat dept, the deli, and so on. Or I see what looks good. Or both. Or I see what I can afford if it's a "lean" week.

                                                          Unless I have a special event (Thanksgiving, company, a planned menu), I play it by ear.

                                                          1. I keep a running list on my iPhone in the "Notes" application. The items are listed in groups by the store where I purchase them - separate entries for TJ's, Costco, Petco, Target, supermarket, drugstore, ethnic markets, and shopping websites.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              ^ This.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                I try so hard to do this, but it never works out. My phone isn't with me when I need to add something, I can't remember how to get to the notes app, or I leave it in the car. I guess I'm young, but low tech!

                                                              2. I've used the old envelope method before and it works! Now I keep a magnetic paper pad on the frig and write down what we have run out or almost are about to run out of.

                                                                The actual list that goes to the store with me is typically written on the store's flyer. That way I have the exact price that they're advertising with me to verify. This doesn't work obviously with farmer's markets or Costco. Then I'll take the list from the frig door.

                                                                1. I have some old notebooks. I run a list down the lines and then turn my menus for the week sideways. Milk is always at the top. Before I leave I survey if we need anything or I keep a list in the fridge as we run out and then add what I want to the current list. Have tried lot of methods but they don't really work for me.

                                                                  1. I h'ave a little notepad, and I just grab it, look a around and write down what I need, that's it. No running list and I definitely don't use an app. It's the retrogrouch in me :)

                                                                    1. I keep a running list, adding things to it as I think of them and deleting when I've bought them. I keep separate lists for various places I shop--grocery store, the farmers market, Trader Joe's, etc.

                                                                      I use an iPhone app called ListMaster. It lets me add things directly on my iPhone, but it also has a web interface that lets both me and my husband add to the lists from our computers. It's one of my favorite apps (and I have 192 of them on my phone currently, so that's saying something!) It's very flexible, has a ton of bells and whistles, yet it's very intuitive and easy to use.

                                                                      1. Add me to the magnetic pad on the fridge camp.

                                                                        I don't need to write down the "standing items" - I automatically pick those up (milk, yogurt, salad greens etc). Like others I do record things as I plan meals or, run out though. I also have sticky tabs w store names deeper in the pad to record items for stores we don't visit as frequently - like Costco for example.

                                                                        I do have standing lists for holiday grocery shopping though as we do tend to eat many of the same dishes at Christmas, Thanksgiving etc. Every year when I open my Word file and read the prior year's "notes to self" about items I might want to add or, check the pantry for or definitely not forget, I'm always relieved to have that record.

                                                                        1. paper and ink is the only way to do it if you have more than one person contributing to the list. It's great to share the effort. We keep small pads of paper in our kitchen junk drawer for a weekly list. I don't like a running list because I tend to overbuy (4 pounds of carrots anyone?).

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: ellaf

                                                                            I tend to overbuy (4 pounds of carrots anyone?).
                                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                            Now, see, if I DON'T have a list, I have a tendency to overbuy. (4 pounds of carrots anyone?) This is well documented about me. Especially about those damn carrots. ;-)

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              yeaaaah....I get something stuck in my head and next thing I know I'm realizing I have 8 bags of rice in my cupboard because I just remembered I was out while I was at the grocery buying something else. Eight times. (WTH?)

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                That's a LOT of stir-fries, fried rice, rice pudding, chicken & rice soup. :-)

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  6 jars of capers here, and several containers of powdered wasabi. Hmmm.

                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  Carrot soup. Good for the eyes :)

                                                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                    It's more the brain that needs help remembering *not* to buy another pound of carrots! LOL

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      Once I had a similar amount of carrots, I just cooked them up, pureed them and put them in small containers in the freezer. Added one to every stew or soup I made until they were gone. Yeah guess I'm a cheapskate!

                                                                                3. re: ellaf

                                                                                  Not necessarily... We use ListMaster, which lets both me and my husband add to the list from our computers (at work or at home) or iPhones. If I had to wait until I was home and in the kitchen to add to my list, I would be constantly thinking of things and then forgetting them again before I wrote them down!

                                                                                4. Luddite in me, but I don't even own a cell phone anymore, smart one or dumb one. I carry a small spiral notebook in my purse all the time, so that's also my running list grocery list. I've remembered--in church of all places--that I needed flour and discreetly pulled out the notebook & scribbled it down. Don't need to remember to bring the list with me, 'cause it lives in my purse all the time.

                                                                                  1. I suppose I have a running list of sorts ("milk, eggs, bread...") that I store in my brain. It's kind of like a phone or other device, but predates those. :)

                                                                                    I also keep a yellow legal pad (paper) in the kitchen. If I need something "special" (something I buy rarely, or an ingredient for a new-to-me recipe) I'll jot it down with a pen. I find I don't need to physically carry that list with me. The act of writing seems to make an imprint on the brain and add it to the list.

                                                                                    Not a Luddite (have phones and a tablet) just hate carrying extra stuff.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                      I have a brain-list, too! I keep a list-pad on the fridge with a magnetic pen - sometimes I remember to tear off the page and bring it with me. Sometimes I even look at it!

                                                                                      I do a lot of un-planned buying based on what looks good or is a good price. Then I figure out what I'll make with it when I get back home.

                                                                                      Just got a fancy phone, but probably won't use it for list-making.

                                                                                      1. re: eepi

                                                                                        that's probably the best sum-up of how I operate that I've seen yet.

                                                                                    2. i grew up with the old envelope method, which I continued - so convenient for carrying coupons as you say... but these days I have an app on my phone. I keep a running list, DH *always* needs yogurt, we almost always need eggs and broccoli. Since I always have my phone I can add items to it as needed, and I never lose it. :)

                                                                                      1. My husband is a writer, who creates on computer, but still likes to do the final pre-publisher edit on paper (which he then has to re-integrate back on the computer...don't aske me how but as he is on book 15, it works for him!)

                                                                                        Therefore he always has 'used' paper drafts, that I re-cycle by tearing in half and making my lists, both shopping and the weekly meal plan that I then post on the fridge.

                                                                                        I tried to transfer to my iPod, but just couldn't get the rhythm. Plus my husband was always fiddling with my iPod trying to see what was for dinner...very annoying: he doesn't need to know how much Michael Bolton I downloaded...

                                                                                        1. Scratch paper - the backs of my page a day calendar accumulate faster than I can use -- several pages in a magnetic clip on the side of the fridge. With 3 magnetic-backed pencils (sometimes becomes 2 or 1 when these get "borrowed") beside it, anyone in the house who notices we're low on / out of an item jots it one the list. Food on the top part, often in 2 columns. Paper products, pet supplies, toothpaste, etc. starting from the bottom edge and going up. When I look at weekly ads, I jot those items I plan to get w/ price notes / specific store.

                                                                                          When in the store, I cross off items as I put them in the cart. I'll still add a few items not on the list to the cart - those that are being sampled, or on sale, or great-looking produce. The on-sale exception is my downfall, which is why for several months last fall a running note was on all lists "NO MORE SUGAR, WE HAVE 12 POUNDS".

                                                                                          Because I'm retired, I try not to shop on weekends or evenings (shorten the line by 1 for folks who can only shop those times). I do try to combine errands, so the list may get grabbed to go with me, partially shopped at the grocery store I'm near-by for other reasons, and put up again several times over the span of a couple of weeks.

                                                                                          1. Lifehacker just published a tip to avoid wasteful (buying duplicates of what you already have) grocery spending: take a photo of your fridge. http://lifehacker.com/from-the-tips-box/

                                                                                            But I think our list system/s are a much better idea! :o)

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                              Oh I am the duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate queen. It's like I have some fear that the world will end and so I need to buy another. It used to be that I couldn't remember if I ran out or not but now I make sure to check for particular common items to know if I need them or not but once at the store I often will grab them anyway. When they are on sale, of course I'll load up but even if not for some reason I need to have a spare.

                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                my brain is more like a 45rpm record player. Every once in a while it just sticks on one particular item....item...item...item...

                                                                                              2. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                Seriously? You're supposed to be able to see every item in your refrigerator from the front, without moving anything around? Maybe in their kitchen, but not mine!!

                                                                                                1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                                                  but of COURSE the mustard is behind the duck fat -- why wouldn't it be?

                                                                                                  :P

                                                                                                2. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                  That would never work for me. I have a mini-fridge. Stuff on lower shelves can be hidden for weeks because bending over and rootling around is such a pain

                                                                                                  1. re: limoen

                                                                                                    I've never understood those mini-fridges. Only time I ever had one was in college. Can you set it up on a counter so it's at eye level?

                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                      It came with the flat (rented furnished). There's not really space in the kitchen (as it is currently laid out) for a large one and I don't want to make the investment at this point. There are cupboards above the counter so I can't, unfortunately. It's not ideal but every flat with a full-sized fridge we looked at had lother disadvantages (namely electric stoves!). I do miss not having a freezer.

                                                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                                                        When my SIL was running a daycare business out of her home, she bought one of the larger, dorm-sized refrigerators just for gallon jugs of milk. Apparently, she went through a gallon a day. My snowbird father has one in his 'Arizona' room for soda, beer and wine.

                                                                                                  2. I keep a running list in excel for Trader Joe’s and Costco items – particularly when I see items mentioned on the Chains and Cheese boards that I want to try. It would have been so helpful to have had that list with me last night when I went to both TJ’s and Costco –doh! I write my regular shopping list on old cereal boxes and the like. They hold up better in my bag than notebook paper.

                                                                                                    1. I now use an iPhone app. But when I was a single working Mom in the pre-smart phone (heck pre-cell phone) days, I made up a single sheet "master" shopping list. It was put up on the fridg and if we ran out of something, it would get circled on the list. Then, I'd take it to go shopping over the weekend.

                                                                                                      This meant that if the kids knew they had used the last of the mayo, they had to mark it on the list. Most of what you buy is the same from week to week anyway. Any unusual items, I could just write in on the side.

                                                                                                      1. I usually just keep my list in my head, and it is often a total failure. For example, today I went to the store specifically for yeast. I figured that since I was going I'd get a few other items, the entire list being less than six things. Anyway, I come home, unload stuff, lounge around a while and then get ready to start cooking, and I have no f'ing yeast. I had to run back to the store.

                                                                                                        If I have a long list or am making a specific recipe ill often jot down the things I need on a scrap of paper. That scrap of paper sometimes even makes it way to the store with me so I can consult it.

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                                                                                                        1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                          Your experience is why I always shop with a list and any last minute items are added to the list. The key to a good shopping list is actually referring to it at the store.

                                                                                                        2. List shmist. Doesn't matter what we use - old envelope, iPhone, paper...we are going to buy a ton of stuff that isn't on it and forget half the stuff that is. Or the store will be out of 10 items and I will be too lazy or pressed for time to go to another store.

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                                                                                                          1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                            I'm nuts, I approach grocery shopping like an Olympic competition, and I'm going for the gold!

                                                                                                          2. Dry wipe board on the kitchen wall.

                                                                                                            Except for Christmas when I become extremely anal about maintaining a spreadsheet of required items purchased/still to purchase.

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                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                              Taking the kitchen wall to the supermarket isn't easy. :-P

                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                No. It's tricky. Had to make sure I bought a car with a big boot.

                                                                                                            2. i try try try to be organized but that is just not how it works out.

                                                                                                              i have several stores i go to (costco in Vancouver BC, trader joes across the border, any supermarket over the border, local supermarket, farm stand, specialty order like the olives from Ontario CA etc)

                                                                                                              what i often do if it's one of the "specialty" stores (ie over the border or tj's) - i keep a portion of the label and clip it all together in a kitchen drawer.

                                                                                                              that way - i know exactly the bar code / sku / color of pkg if i am sending a friend on an errand - or even if it's just me on a once a year trek.

                                                                                                              as for a daily / local shopping list - i am kind of impulse and i do keep certain things in my overstocked pantry (come to my house when the big one hits - bring cash!)

                                                                                                              one habit i have tried to ingrain in myself is labelling with a sharpie felt pen - the month and year of purchase - on the cans of diced tomato or pkg of spaghetti ---- like one is supposed to do for freezer items - it helps me realize how much i buy and how much i don't need to buy (til that big one ;)

                                                                                                              i am also trying the new fun game of cooking with what i already have on hand - sites like this and all the helpful people here are a great resource.

                                                                                                              1. there was a day where the act of physically writing something down was enough to commit it to memory -- even if I lost the list, I could remember what was on it.

                                                                                                                The older I get, however, the more I'm beginning to think that stapling to my forehead wouldn't be enough...

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                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                  Plus, it would be really hard to see what's on the list...unless you looked in a mirror. And were able to read backwards.

                                                                                                                2. We'd mostly been using the paper list (sometimes envelopes, sometimes the magnetic list), then tried the white board (which was the way to remember those odd things we were out of -- that were later copied to paper).

                                                                                                                  But a couple months ago we started using an app called Avocado. It's designed specifically for couples to share information -- whether it's appointments, lists, etc. We joined during Beta so it was free, there may be a cost now.

                                                                                                                  It is very handy! We have a general Grocery list, a "Things" to buy list (stuff for non-grocery stores of any kind), and some specific lists for other stores (BJs, TJs, etc.). What I like is that you can "cross" things off the list, but they stay there, crossed off. So the next time I need to update the TJs list, I can "un-cross" the peanuts, trail mix, salsa, etc., that we always get at TJs. So it's not retyping things every time.

                                                                                                                  This way either of us can add to the list. It's also cute in that it gives you little pats on the back ("Getting things done" etc) when you cross something off the list.

                                                                                                                  We've had far fewer forgotten items since we started this.

                                                                                                                  1. app on my iPhone

                                                                                                                    1. I keep my running list in my head. Make a shopping list only when I need special ingredients for a dish or to try out something new at Trader Joe's. Not on paper, in my Palm PDA.

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                                                                                                                      1. re: John Francis

                                                                                                                        Glad to know little has changed since January. :-P

                                                                                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                          :-P to you too!

                                                                                                                      2. I use paper & ink, and then start a new one with anything I forgot, or couldn't find that day. When I left a job, I got all the pads with my name on them, so I use them Pink with Angels, and A Note from Nan in the middle. I had worked for a printer and we all had our own designs.

                                                                                                                        1. Tend to shop for a meal, not a big weekly shopper. I usually use an envelope or scrap of paper. Sometimes I just take a picture of the recipe with my phone. Even more rarely I use notes on my phone.

                                                                                                                          1. I might have missed it since it's such a long thread but..Cozi app for my iphone. I love it. set up multiple stores; enter from computer or phone; stores on the cloud; authorize multiple users. It also has many other family friendly features but I just use the shopping lists. Free or upgraded paid version.

                                                                                                                            1. Long ago I learned a technique to memorize lists of things and I still use it for groceries. I figure it keeps my mind sharp.

                                                                                                                              The key is to visualize the item doing an activity that links to the next item in the list. <Paper towels>, <milk>, <eggs> becomes the mental image of "slipping on broken eggs on the floor and spilling milk everywhere, then having to sop it all up with paper towels".

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                                                                                                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                                The key for YOU--and I'm glad for you that this works! Everybody's head is wired a little differently, and mine SO doesn't work this way!!

                                                                                                                                1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                                                                                  Often I forget to buy stuff that is on my list. Interestingly enough I remember birthdates, and dates of other things that happen in my life. My family has long since figured out not to challenge me on what happened when. (Well, maybe on what happened, but not when it happened.)