Insights: Shopping lists!

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Shopping lists have become a bit of a phenomenon for me. I have become obsessed with going to the grocery store with a full shopping list, it's actually now a necessity. For the most part, this is a very useful tool and habit to get into but it does have its downsides also. Are you a shopping list kind of person or do you think on the go?

I didn't always makes grocery lists, one of the reasons I started was when I began to plan my meals at the weekend for the week ahead, which involved recipes and therefore lists of ingredients (try remembering what goes into a recipe while going up and down and backwards and forwards in a supermarket, it's stressful!). As well as this was the items I'd jot down on a notepad beside the fridge, of essentials when I was running low or run out of all together (again try remembering what it was you ran out of the other day that you know you'll need again tomorrow). So, my need for a list grew from this, and has been my saviour. No thinking, just work down the list. I've been doing it for so long now that I can write it in order of appearance at the supermarket (I'm aware that sounds truly sad and like I need to get a life - but you know what?!, no matter how glamorous a life you may lead, you still have to do the grocery shopping, so whatever helps to reduce the stress of one of the most mundane jobs!).

One of the advantages of shopping to a list is that you don't peruse the shelves and find unessential and unhealthy items to put in your basket. I can honestly say that I walk past most of the aisles in the supermarket because it is junk - there is a full aisle for sugary drinks (I avoid these for health reasons, not just because they aren't on my list) and cereals.....and biscuits...and confectionery! But those gondola ends are a b*tch! I have walked past them on several occasions and seen my favourite chocolate treats and straight in the basket they go! I'm fine not walking down certain aisles, but you can't avoid the gondola ends (anyone would think these supermarkets knew what they were doing!). But I'm actually quite disciplined and (mostly) only buy what is on my list, which I know is exactly what I need for the week ahead. If I was forced to go up and down every aisle for inspiration for my meals, god only knows what we would be eating every night! I could never ever go to a supermarket to buy something for dinner without having a plan beforehand. Which brings me on to my first disadvantage of supermarket lists....

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I have programmed myself so much so (or as I like to say, I'm very organised) that I fear my brain has become extinct. I have actually come to envy people who just nip into the supermarket for dinner that night, not knowing what they want but come out with a perfect three course meal for two. I've become so conditioned, it's almost like I need a list for the three things I need in the local shop mid week!

The other disadvantage is that if it's not on the list it doesn't get bought. On occasion, when jotting down ingredients for one of my meals I accidentally leave something out and when I come to make that meal on whatever night, I realise we're having Marrakech chickpea stew without the chickpeas.

But on the whole, I would advise anyone to make a shopping list. It keeps you organised, in a modern world where things can get chaotic, it seriously reduces the stress levels at the supermarket (unfortunately you can't do anything about unruly children and trolly bumping). And it most certainly keeps you on the right track for a healthy diet (as long as you stick to the list and don't go shopping when you're hungry - or worse hangry!). Keeping to a list is also a very good way of minimising food wastage and protecting the environment. And if you are on a budget, you will only spend what you had planned for and know you can afford. You will also half the amount of time you spend in a supermarket if you plan ahead and work to a list. As long as you are confident that everything is on the list that you need, you will be relaxing at home before you know it (while non list makers are still standing in aisle 4 trying to figure out what they need, while someone else's child in screaming in their ear).

Take some of the stress out of your life, plan your meals and make a shopping list!