Get Your Shopping Lists Organized! 10 Ideas That Really Work
I dread shopping.
Making the trek to various grocery stores every week is only made bearable now because I have a partner in crime helping me out. But entering any department store makes my skin crawl. I will tell the sales person that I'm only browsing and that I'll be sure to find her if I have any questions. And she will still stand there yammering at me.
Since the retail world is hell bent on making shopping a living hell, I've devised several strategies to make my life easier and the process more organized.
All of my shopping lists are in Evernote. Right now, I have eight notes nested into a Shopping Notebook. Here's how I use Evernote to keep my shopping organized.
1. Make a list for every store you frequent.
Since you're constantly updating these various notes, you can keep specific information in each. Information not to be deleted.
For instance, I keep a reminder in my Target shopping list to always check the online prices for my items before I actually buy anything. This reminder has saved me quite a bit of money. On almost every trip to Target, about half of the items are listed for a cheaper price online than in the store. If I go to customer service, they'll honor the online price.
So my takeaway is that Target is lazy and incompetent. I'm not. I'll take the savings.
2. Make a list for every project. Even some people too.
When My Person and I needed to buy furniture, I made a list of what we might need, including measurements for potential furniture. When I was debating about what plants to potentially buy, I made a list of suggested plants from friends.
The idea here is to arm yourself for that unexpected moment when you're out and about, see a sale, and want to buy with confidence. Rather than trying to remember if you needed a pifflewhiffle in a certain size, your project list covers that information.
As an aunt, this project concept works well for gift-giving with my nieces and nephew as well. I update their list with what size clothing every kid is wearing. And when I talk to them and discover new favorites or interests, I jot it down in my note.
3. Make the grocery list a two-parter.
Items at the top are the regularly purchased staples. I never delete these items. On the rare occasion that I may not need to buy something one week, I'll just click on the check box to remind myself to not purchase it this once.
After these regular purchases, I leave a few lines of space. The items that I need just this week come next. Once I'm home, it's easier to delete these items as a small block.
In the past, I always arranged my grocery list in the order in which I would walk through the store. I still use that concept, just in two-parts now. Most weeks I don't have any problems speeding through in order. I just scan back and forth between the regular items and the items for this week.
4. Add to your lists as you need things.
As soon as I realize that I'm running low on olive oil, I open Evernote on the iPad or iPhone and add that item to my grocery list. When a third pair of gray socks got a hole in the heel, I added gray socks to a list right away.
Sure, there are times when I'm menu planning and I add several items to my grocery list at once. But the majority of the little things I add as I think of them. If I realize I need something as I'm running out the door, I'll leave the empty container on my desk. As soon as I get home, I'm motivated to add that item to one of my lists and toss the garbage. Combining these two strategies has really helped me focus my shopping. I don't go searching for crap I don't need because I can't remember what else I thought I might need.
5. Create comparison pricing lists.
I use this strategy mostly for groceries. It appalls me that Safeway sells a 33.8oz bottle of organic olive oil for $16.99. I can buy the same sized bottle or organic olive oil at Whole Foods across the street for $12.99. These are every day prices, which I would never remember without my little database.
Sure, it takes some time to create this price check database, but I do refer to it a lot! To make my life easier, I usually only add a few items at a time. And then it's just keeping up with price adjustments. I use the same two-tiered approach here as well. Items that I buy regularly are at the top of this price check list. Items that I buy less frequently are at the bottom.
6. Create preference lists too.
And I do keep a separate list of certain preferences. For instance, My Person loves his K-Cups and VIA. I cannot remember which brands and which flavors he likes the most. He's usually with me grocery shopping, but not all of the time. Rather than texting, I just keep a running list of preferences for all sorts of items.
7. Add useful pdf's to Evernote.
There are a lot of helpful resources out there. Convert them into pdf's and add them to a note in your nested Shopping Notebook.
For example, I found an infographic that identifies how veggies should look when you're buying them. And there are veggies on this list that I have less experience with buying, but I've been recently integrating them into my cooking. I love that I can pop this infographic open while I'm at the store, read that the color should be uniform (or whatever) and select a better veggie.
8. Use the camera feature.
Whenever we're out and we stumble upon a new thing that we think might really be great, we take a few pictures. I open my note for that store, click the paperclip to add an attachment, select camera, choose the size/crop for the photo and add it directly to that note. Usually I take one picture of the item. Then another picture of the price tag with dimensions and such.
This strategy allows us time to mull over whether we really need that item or not. We can check dimensions to make sure it will fit in the space we're thinking about. We can comparison shop online. We have options.
9. Share lists.
Use the Work Chat feature to share select lists. Since any party can add and delete items, be careful. For instance, I debated sharing our grocery list with My Person, but ultimately, I think he'd mess up my system. Uh oh, now he may not "like" my post. However, I know there will be other household projects down the line where we will want to share a shopping list. This feature is pretty handy.
10. Sync your devices before leaving the house.
I almost always check my shopping lists before I leave the house. I make little adjustments. I add items. Oftentimes, I'm using the iPad because I love the display there. But if I don't sync Evernote on my iPad and iPhone before leaving the house, then I'm not shopping with my most updated list. So be sure to sync before you run out the door!
And those are the strategies I've been using to keep my shopping much more focused and organized. What tips do you have for organizing your shopping lists? Please share your ideas in the comments.