by Susan McCarthy
For years, making a shopping list was simply a matter of jotting down items that I’d used in the previous week or saw that I was running low on or that I planned to use in the upcoming week. My parents had been hoarders and they had multiple cabinets, refrigerators, and a dedicated freezer filled with food; not to mention excessive paper goods and personal care products.
(As examples, there were so many boxes of facial tissue, when I started to empty the house that not only could my brother and I each take home a few boxes, but I also dropped off a few boxes of tissue at my mother-in-law’s and at work. My father had gallons of windshield washer fluid in the basement.
When I was cleaning out the house, it was difficult going through the kitchen because there was so much food that had expired years ago, or that had freezer burn and had to get tossed.
And while my pantry and refrigerator weren’t going to be empty if my weekly shopping trip got delayed, I couldn’t bring myself to stock up on food that was going to sit on my pantry shelf for half a year.
Then there was the rush on the grocery stores during the COVID-19 shutdown and suddenly I was driving to multiple grocery stores to find things like pasta and rice. While my husband started considering buying freeze-dried prepper meals, I decided to expand our pantry a bit.
Along with keeping a couple extra boxes of pasta, more canned tomatoes, and a half dozen cans of tuna on hand, I also decided to add things like water chestnuts, pesto sauce, and pineapple that in the past I only bought when I planned to use it in a meal in the coming week.
I wasn’t going the disaster prepper route – having had hoarder parents meant that too much of anything created low-level of anxiety. (Years ago, I watched a single episode of a television show about extreme couponers and I tensed up at the sight of multiple dozen boxes of pasta and bottles of laundry detergent in someone’s basement. Forget watching a show called Hoarders).
While reorganizing my pantry, I decided to make a list of the variety of items that I had on hand. I then added paper products, cleaning supplies, and eventually grooming and beauty supplies to create a master list.
Instead of relying on my memory of what we’d used during the week or hoping that the hubby or I had added those items to the shopping list, I could look over my master list while staring into the pantry and figure out what product used to sit in that empty space.
And a big shopping list made it easier to inventory what I had on hand when making a grocery list. Not everyone in my house things to put things on the shopping list and I found it rather annoying to be asked, “did you buy honey?” an hour after returning from the store when I don’t regularly use honey and I didn’t realize that it was nearly gone.
Hi, I’m Susan
I'm the chief (and only) Organized Squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life. In these articles, I meld my nearly 30 years as a teacher with my new career as a professional organizer to show you how to clear your cluttered home and schedule to create the life you want.