How NOT to End Up with Five Bags of Coffee After a Shopping Trip

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and picked up what you thought you needed, only to return home to find out you already have X in abundance? Yup. Totally been there on multiple occasions. 


If X is perishable, not only do you waste your money, it expires during the time it takes to use up the duplicate you already had. And then a couple of weeks later you open the fridge door and wonder what died in there. Or, you end up having to Google “what to make with panko breadcrumbs” just to use up the abundance you have on hand. And by the way, panko breadcrumbs are delicious on hash browns. (Can you guess who has an abundance in her pantry?)


I have two kids under five. I’m a stay-at-home mom who works full time, home-schools, and manages a busy household. My brain is on overload. All the time. I can’t tell you how many grocery trips I’ve made with kids in tow only to realize when I get home that not only do I already have an item I just bought, I also forgot to get what I actually needed. 


In an effort to get organized and make sure no one is screaming at me for not having cheese puffs or, worse, no coffee after another sleepless night, I found a system. And it’s dead simple. 


I have a grocery list that sits on a cookbook holder on my counter. My counter is a central location in my house. Anytime I run out of something while cooking, I add it to the list. Anytime my husband wants me to pick something up, he adds it to the list. If we run out of shampoo, we walk a few feet to the list and add it. The list is broken down by each store I shop at. I have a general sense of how prices differ from store to store, so this helps me to make sure I’m not overpaying for something I know is cheaper at Aldi or Walmart. 

If you’ve never done this before, here’s how to get started:


  • Print our list out or design your own for the stores where you buy groceries or household goods. 
  • Put the list in a central location. Make sure there’s a writing utensil near it. 
  • Use the list! Anytime you need or want something, jot it down. Even if you’re in another room. If it pops into your head, stop what you’re doing and go put it on your list.
  • When it’s time to shop, cut up your list up by store, and bring the sections that apply to that shopping trip. 
  • When you get home, make a fresh list and carry over any items you didn’t purchase that trip. 
  • Repeat


If you have ADHD, suffer from mom-brain or just need a little help when it comes to getting what you actually need at the store, I’m confident this system will help. Give it a try and let us know in the comments below how it’s working for you or how you tweaked it to make it better. 


Kat Nielsen, the author of this article, is the Vice President of Rena-Fi, Inc. She is married with two kids and loves being in the kitchen. You can learn more about her cooking adventures at Eat Your Tarte Out. 

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