The secret? Consider the layout of your favorite grocery store.

By Brennan Long
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Grocery Bag
Credit: Getty/VICUSCHKA

I am not a type-A person. I rarely get to the airport two hours before my flight. My husband often fixes laundry after I’ve already done my best job folding it, and it’s unlikely that my RN grandmother would approve of the lackadaisical manner in which I make my bed each day. But as my love for cooking has grown so has my appreciation for a quick, efficient trip to the store. The secret ingredient to making this happen: pre-planning meals and a neatly organized grocery list.

For me, the process all starts on Saturday afternoon when I pull out my favorite cookbooks and any saved digital inspiration from the past few days. I select the recipes for the week, think of a few creative ways to spin the leftovers, and then open an email draft to craft my shopping guide.

First, I consider which grocery stores or farmers markets I will be visiting that week. If I plan to shop at more than one location, I will create a separate list for each.

Next, I consider the layout of the store that I will be visiting. I craft my grocery list according the sections of the store, starting with produce—the closest area to the entrance at my favorite local spot, Central Market.

With my list organized in this manner, I can collect everything I need when I am walking through that section of the store, rather than making an additional lap around. On a typical week, I finish listing the fruits and vegetables, then start writing the dairy, pantry, and frozen ingredients that I’ll need.

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Once the list is complete, I email the list to myself and copy it into a note on my phone. As I add that buttermilk to my buggy, I can easily cross it off the list. I often end up grocery shopping during the weekend rush, but this simple method keeps my trip speedy. Now I have extra time each Sunday to attempt a new baking project. This week’s endeavor is No-Knead Buttermilk Bread. Wish me luck!