HomeThe CSWD BlogFood WasteIs making a grocery list the ultimate life hack?

Is making a grocery list the ultimate life hack?

Overhead view of woman with shopping cart browsing meat aisle in grocery store.
Photo by The Guardian UK

At some point in the span of human history, probably around the time that mirrors were invented, our ancestors decided that January 1st was as good a day as any to change everything about ourselves. Take your pick: Should you start the year off by doing a juice fast, or going gluten-free? Maybe you should put a deposit down on six months of spin classes. Or maybe it’s time for you to finally balance your checkbook (people still do that, right?).

If our ancestors had known how much food modern humans waste, they probably would have put that on the list of regular New Year’s resolutions, too.

What if I told you that one simple change in your weekly routine could help you eat better, save money, and reduce food waste—all at the same time?

Ready? Here it is: Make a grocery list. Before you shop. Every time.

I know it’s not rocket science, and it may seem like a no-brainer. Maybe that’s why so many of us forget to do it.

A shopping list may seem like a no-brainer—and maybe that’s why so many of us forget to do it.

Food accounts for about a quarter of the stuff Vermonters send to the landfill. Making a shopping list can help you stick to your dietary goals AND help reduce the amount of food you waste at the end of the week.

Making a list helps make you aware of the food you already have, helps to reduce the amount of food you buy (and potentially waste), and make sure that it’s actually food that people in your household will eat.

Stick with it: Tips for making great shopping lists all year

1. Plan your meals

It is really tough to make a grocery list if you don’t even know what you’ll be cooking! Take a few minutes to plan out your meals. Try using this Grocery Game Plan worksheet from the USDA to help track what you’ll be eating for the week.

Need some inspiration? To get recipes, check out Allrecipes, What’s Cooking?, or Simply Recipes.

2. Sort your list.

Once your meals are chosen, then you can write down all the ingredients you’ll need to make those meals. It’s a good idea to sort those ingredients by food type, so you can get in and out of the store quicker.

Check out the USDA’s Game Plan Grocery List to make shopping a breeze.

3. Make theme nights.

Are you starting to run out of ideas for meals, and afraid you are headed into a rut? Making certain nights “theme nights” can keep it fun, and help you come up with new ideas!

How about Pizza Night Fridays, or Meatless Mondays? Take a look at how one mother of three makes a monthly meal plan with theme nights .

4. When all else fails…there’s an app for that

As with most other things, there are apps to make meal prep and grocery lists easier. Bring! and Out of Milk are two grocery list-making apps that get 4+ stars and are available on iTunes and Android.

There’s something supremely satisfying about crossing items off a list. Especially when that list is helping you eat better, feel better, and keep food from being wasted.

Start the new year—nay, the new you!—off right. Make a resolution to make a grocery list every time you shop.

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Marketing Specialist at CSWD