Well-Being//

P is for Planning

(What I Learnt from My Aunt Polly’s Shopping Routine)


I hate grocery shopping, always have — almost as much as I hate doing “sponge-ah”. The only difference is that while I can put off washing the floor, when the cupboard is bare and our tummies are grumbling, grocery shopping has to get done. Hungry people can get irritable and are no fun to be around.

If it’s any consolation, at least the Big Guy and I do it together. Except, we have two totally different shopping styles. You see, I’m a list addict. I keep my grocery list on the kitchen counter and add to it, as we run out of things. Sometimes, when muse falls upon me, I will systematically organize the items according to the aisles at the supermarket. Once on site, with my list in hand, I scurry about like an Energizer Bunny.

The Big Guy, on the other hand, is a spontaneous shopper. He wanders about to his heart’s delight, pushing the cart merrily along, adding items he thinks we need; items he buys out of habit (that’s why we can find ourselves with 12 cans of baked beans and half a dozen jars of hot peppers); or items that simply look interesting (I’m still trying to figure out, why he bought a plastic toy mouse for a cat we don’t have.)

I admit, while the Big Guy’s way may not be the most efficient, it’s kinda fun. Discovering his unexpected surprises buried between the cucumbers and potatoes most certainly brightens up this mundane chore.

While people’s shopping routine, pretty much depends on their personal circumstances and personality, in general I have found that common shoppers:

• buy more groceries than they actually need;

• spend more money on groceries than they would like to;

• spend more time shopping than they would like to;

• throw away more food than they would like to;

forget to buy things they need.

But, does this have to be the case? Perhaps there is a different way ☺

Let me tell you about my Aunt Polly. She has refined her shopping routine to perfection. It is practical; it is purposeful; and, more than anything, it saves her both time and money.

This is how it works –

1. Aunt Polly begins by planning her family meals for the week: breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all seven days; main course, side dishes, salads and desserts. She takes no short-cuts. It is all there. And, because Aunt Polly runs a busy home, she always takes into account the unexpected — extra mouths to feed or spontaneous change of plans.

2. Then, she meticulously lists with precise detail everything she needs in order to prepare each dish— from core ingredients to the toppings.

3. Next, Aunt Polly checks her fridge and pantry to see what she has in stock and what she is out of.

4. Aunt Polly amends her list accordingly.

5. Finally, with her list in hand, Aunt Polly heads off to the supermarket.

Unlike me (and perhaps you too) –

• Aunt Polly is in and out of the supermarket in a jiffy.

• Aunt Polly is never overburdened with unnecessary extras.

• Aunt Polly always shops within her budget.

• Aunt Polly always has what she needs.

• Aunt Polly never throws food away because its shelf-life has expired.

I can hear you groaning in protest, “Who has the time? Who has the patience? Maybe Aunt Polly should get a life! Go with the flow.”

I won’t argue or even try to persuade. But, kindly indulge me a little bit more.

What Aunt Polly has been doing for years is actually one of the most celebrated tactics of the acclaimed author Stephen Covey, who is considered one of the world’s top thinkers and authorities on leadership and organizations. His Principle-Centered approach to life, as presented in his best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) has inspired millions of people from countries across the globe, from all walks of life, political backgrounds, cultures and religions.

Aunt Polly’s shopping routine follows Covey’s Second Habit — Begin with the end in mind.

Let’s take a closer look how it works –

1. Before heading off to the grocery store and even before making her shopping list, Aunt Polly begins with the end in mind by creating her weekly menu. Her weekly menu is a detailed and in-depth vision of what success will look like.

2. When Aunt Polly asks herself, “What do I need in order to prepare all of these meals?” and lists the ingredients accordingly, she is basically assessing, “What do I need to achieve success?”

3. With her list of ingredients in hand, Aunt Polly checks her pantry. In reality, she is checking her starting point or current situation.

4. Finally with knowledge of where she is headed, what she needs in order to get there, combined with what she already has, Aunt Polly can create a shopping list that will ensure that she has everything she needs to prepare her family’s meals for the week.


The approaches to planning are probably as plentiful and as varied as there are planners. I have found Aunt Polly’s Shopping Routine to be a winner. It is simple, yet strategic. It is comprehensive, but at the same time it focuses on details. It is applicable to any project — big or small; for home, for school or for the workplace. It works for the individual as well as for groups of any size; it works for both short-term and long-term planning. And yeah, it works for shopping too!

It’s time to plan.

It’s Time 2 Lead.

It’s time to THRIVE.

Originally published at medium.com

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.