If you’re anything like me, you’d find doing grocery shopping to be a big waste of time. Yeah, I know it’s pretty essential, but even so, I don’t have to like doing it. I find every time I go grocery shopping, I spend hours upon hours looking for things. I’d pace back and forth, going from aisle 4 to aisle 10, only to be back at aisle 4 half an hour later. It’s simply frustrating.
Last week, I thought there must be some way to optimise grocery shopping. For most people, grocery shopping is a weekly routine. If an average family spends 2-3 hours each week shopping, in a month that’s 8-12 hours. I can write two articles in that time! Or watch half a dozen episodes of StarGate. There must be a way to make things more efficient (and hopefully in the process, less tiresome).
So, let me introduce to you the “Grocery Shopping Helper“. I spent 30 mins last Saturday afternoon writing this simple one page application. It’s not fancy by any means. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles. But it does the job. My wife and I tried it out yesterday, and it saved about 40% of the time it usually takes us to get our weekly supplies.
Here’s the deal. The thing about doing grocery shopping is most people do not know where things are kept in the store. Yeah, there are those signs above very aisle, but they have two problems – either they’re not descriptive enough or you have to physically walk all the way there to read them. The other thing about doing grocery shopping for me at least, is returning home after my wife sends me on an errand only to find I had forgotten something. When you’re time starved like I am, driving all the way back to the mall isn’t exactly my idea of spending time wisely.
So how do we solve this? The simplest and most elegant solution I could think of was having a map of the store. Imagine having a map identifying where each item was. You’d only have to walk from one end to the other end of the store in one fell swoop and pick each item as you go pass!
This is exactly what the “Grocery Shopping Helper” is designed to do. Given a list of grocery items and their corresponding aisle at the supermarket, this simple tool will generate a formatted page of all the grocery items you’re ever interested in, either sorted alphabetically or by aisle.
Using it can’t be any simpler.
- Start by making a list of the items you are interested in. Not just the items for this week (like a conventional shopping list), but for ALL the items you are, might be or used to be interested in.
- Just for the very first time, go to the store and note down all the aisle numbers against every item you have on your list. Your supermarket customer service might already have a list defined, so ask them first.
- Come back to this site and enter each item into the text area below (separate the description from the aisle with a comma).
- Generate a report alphabetically by clicking the ‘Generate‘ button. Print it in landscape and stick it on your fridge for future reference. This is a convenient lookup index which you can use to find the aisle by the item description. You only need one of this.
- Click the browser’s back button. Select the “Sort by aisle” checkbox. Generate a report by aisle and print it in landscape. Unlike the previous report, you should print as many copies of this as possible. You will need one of this every time you go to the grocery store.
- At the start of each week, get a fresh aisle report and stick it on your fridge.
- Each time you run out of something, say milk, place a mark in your aisle report next to the item indicating the quantity you need. You can use the alphabetical report to look up the aisle number.
- Take each weekly aisle report when you go to the shops. Simply walk from one end to the other end of the store (ie from the first to the last aisle) and pick up the items with marks alongside as you go past them.
That’s it! Simple and elegant! Armed with your weekly aisle report, you never need to walk back and forth searching for items and you never go home forgetting anything. You can look at a sample report or go to the application and try it out for yourself. It’s completely FREE.
Feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment if you find this lifehack useful. Also, if you have any suggestions for improvement, I’d love to hear them and am willing to make changes to incorporate your needs if possible.