NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Create A Shopping List
Bob Frye, June 98

Here's a simple approach for creating a grocery shopping list using the table function found in many word processor programs (it works just as well with a spreadsheet application too).

Create a four-column table with 50 rows to start with (you can add or delete rows as needed). For the present, we'll leave columns one and four blank. In column two, put the aisle designation (A, B, C... or 1,2,3 ...), and in column three put the grocery item (butter, beans, brisket, etc). You can enter items in any order you wish, as long as the associated aisle designation is correct. After using our list for a while, we've found it's better to list specific items (apples, bananas, oranges) instead of general categories (fruit). Before saving your list for the last time, I recommend you sort your table either by aisle number (column two) or alphabetically by item (column three). This table of grocery items will serve as your master shopping list that you'll use to create each new list, as you need it.

To create a new shopping list, scroll through the list and place an "x" in column one for each item you want to buy. Use column four to designate size or quantity (eggs/ large or hamburger/ 2 lbs), or other comments. When you have all your items selected, sort the table by column one. All your "x"ed items are grouped at the top or bottom of the table, depending on whether you sorted by ascending or descending order. If your master table was saved alphabetically by item, you'll have to do second sort on just these grouped items by column two to put them in aisle order.

Since we only want to print those items we want to buy, insert a page break either after the last item on the list (if your grouped items are at the top of the master table), or before the first item (if the items are at the bottom of the master table). Select that page (or pages) to print. This printed list should be in order so you can start at one end of the store and have all your purchases by the time you reach the other end. To save paper, we found using a two column page format works well (each page has two four-column tables printed side-by-side). If your application will support it, I recommend use a large font size (try 14 or 16) on the item column to make it easier to read in the store. Happy shopping!

We've also experimented using this same approach for creating a simple home inventory (substitute room name for isle number, property item for grocery item, etc). If your application supports a search function (such as Find), you can also create a table that serves as a searchable inventory list. For example, create columns for your audio collection for artists, song or album, media (vinyl, tape, CD), and location or file designation. Once your table is filled, use Find to locate table items by artist or song.

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