Food & Drinks

Turn Your Grocery Lists Into a Creative Ritual

This post originally appeared in the April 12, 2021 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.


Over the course of the pandemic, I have watched so many people discover new hobbies, from baking and decorating elaborate cakes to crafting ring dishes shaped like my favorite foods. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as talented as these folks, so I did something much easier: I fell back in love with writing things by hand, specifically shopping lists.

Because my job requires me to look at screens for most of the day, I wanted to take any opportunity I had to unplug, and handwriting shopping lists — instead of relying on an app in my phone — seemed like a step in the right direction. Writing lists, especially by hand, is a very tedious thing to do, but this ritual gives me a level of satisfaction, representing a bite-size project that I actually complete consistently. Sure, it’s not a novel or a screenplay, but when I have the opportunity to say to myself, “Hey, you did something from start to finish,” it means a lot.

I’ve found particular comfort in getting creative with how I write my lists, from using glitter gel pens to adding food-shaped stickers next to each item, which makes me feel like a creative genius. (If you need help getting started, I recommend hitting up NYC’s Yoseka Stationery for supplies: There, to get started on this list-making journey, I purchased my first ever planner, the glorious Hobonichi Techo, where I’m able to keep track of ingredients I need for recipes — like this birthday cake butter mochi — which I bookmark so I can refer to them later if I want to make the same thing again.)

I understand that it’s easier to create a shopping list on my phone. After all, I carry it with me everywhere I go. But it’s been nice having to depend on my Hobonichi when I’m at the grocery store. And because there are a couple of days in between writing out these lists and going shopping, it feels great to open up to a brightly colored page after some long days at work. I’ve come to think of the book as a little friend.

There’s something absolutely delightful about stepping into a grocery store, whipping out my planner, and opening to a handwritten and decorated shopping list. Not only is my notebook a reminder that I supported one of my favorite local businesses, but the reminder of the time I spent lovingly writing and stickering those pages also adds a touch of joy to my shopping. Not to mention it keeps me from buying things I don’t need. Have you ever gone to Target without a list? It’s a dangerous game to play!



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