There's an unforgettable scene on a classic show that highlights the main character being sent to the store by his wife at least 6 times for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. He struggles through rain, wind and broken paper bags facing a new hurdle each time he is sent back out for something that was forgotten on the previous list. We've all been there; you're ready to make your favorite recipe or maybe you are trying something new and you completely thought you had minced garlic and you don't. To avoid the dreaded "you forgot something, huh" face from your local grocery store cashier try making the list of all lists using Microsoft Excel.
When I am cooking for a holiday, vacation rental getaway or any event where there are multiple dishes involved I create an excel list to help me avoid the grocery store return. I come from a family of list makers. My father likes to make lists and place things in the "staging area" and my sister introduced me to use of excel for grocery shopping. I've used that generational love of lists to my advantage and here's a snapshot of what my excel list looks like:
Quantity- how many do you need for a particular recipe ex. 2 boxes (for the mac & cheese). You can also add item size here if you'd like.
Item Description- this simply spells out the particular item so instead of cheese it would say Colby Jack cheese.
Category- this guides you to what section of the store this item can be purchased in. This will be important later!
Dish- probably the most important column if you'd like to avoid a return visit to the store. The dish column identifies which recipe/dish this particular item is for. If you need the same item for multiple dishes you just increase the quantity and add both dishes to this column. For instance, if I need thyme for the dressing and the turkey my Dish column will say Dressing/Turkey. If that doesn't work for you consider listing the item separately and adding the Zero to the quantity column to signify that this item is covered under another dish.
Once you've entered what you THINK you need to buy you can then do the following:
Sort by dish to make sure you have everything you need for each recipe. Sorting by dish is the most important step to avoid multiple trips to the store.
Once you've sorted by dish you can then double-check your refrigerator, pantry and spice cabinet to confirm if you already have these items in order to avoid the double/triple purchase. Since you would have already cleaned out your kitchen during your Holiday Prep, assessing what you have should be super easy.
After you have checked the above two you are ready to sort your list by category so you can go in and out of the store. I swear these tweaks to my normal grocery list have easily shaved 30-40 minutes off of my holiday grocery shopping trips.
Print out or save to your phone your triple checked and sorted by category list and enjoy a fairly quick visit to the grocery store. Add in more categories if needed. If you have to make trips to more than one store add a column or new tab for that and sort, sort, sort.
If you decide to give this a shot send me a message to let me know how it worked out! Happy Shopping!