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My List, My Life

By Stephanie Dickison, guest blogger

There is nothing more satisfying than creating a grocery list.

It’s not only fulfilling your needs (what you’ve run out of, saving money by buying what’s on sale), it also allows you to compose meals based on mood, time, energy, availability and choice.

Perhaps it starts with beef tenderloins and then you think that shiitake mushrooms, wild rice and red wine would be nice accompaniments.

Better add those to the list.

Then you realize you’d better get some fresh garlic too. The last time you bought some was during the Johnson administration.

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to make Penne a la Vodka and now that you’ve finished that great big report, you’re going to treat yourself to a night of cooking at the stove, maybe eat it on the couch while watching a movie you’d be embarrassed to tell someone about. Something with Kate Hudson or Matthew Perry, perhaps.

Then there’s the addition of the items that you can’t resist. If you’re my mom, it’ll be chocolate on sale or maybe even fudge. For some people it’s ice cream or potato chips, for others its carbs and microwaveable dinners, a pricier bottle of wine or a new book or CD.

Adding these otherwise verboten items to your list is like giving yourself a little reward for a tough week at work or finally finishing cleaning out the garage.

My list of indulgences includes pickles, fancy salad dressing, a new cleaning product (so sad, isn’t it?), or a pack of pens, notebook or stickers. Apparently I’m 12.

Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and FoundObviously, as the book Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found attests to, your list says a lot about you. Do you put everything on one list — tires, grapefruit juice, nail polish, boating license — or do you compartmentalize it like so?

  • Groceries
  • Errands
  • Hardware
  • Drugstore

I always have to categorize mine. I walk almost everywhere so I need to know what I’m picking up where. No way do I want to have to walk back to get something. I love the exercise, but not that much. Plus, I take my time with my list, making it out, checking it over, dreaming of new looks for our living room, meals for my fella and sometimes even fantasizing about getting a new look from head to toe, with the addition of a few, carefully selected products.

And it’s not just the contents on the list, but how you go through them. I am fascinated by those who cross off items while going through the grocery store. I want to be that fastidious. I mean, I’ve put in all of that time and effort into one list, so why should I keep going over items again and again?

But alas, despite having at least two or three pens on me at all times (a writer’s habit), I feel like crossing things off would take all the fun out of grocery shopping. It would make it into more of a task than an adventure.

And for me, heading out to get groceries is always an adventure. It’s the possibility of getting something I can’t usually afford on sale, the chance of seeing something new, and the journey of making some very ordinary ingredients into an extraordinary meal for the ones I hold dear.

Of course, should I leave my list at home, it’s closer to a disaster…

©Stephanie Dickison, 2009