How to Make a Grocery List Without Inducing a Panic Attack

I hate the fact that we say “adulting.” It’s infantilizing and underestimates Generation Z’s ability to be productive, valued members of society.


That being said, I am so not good at buying groceries. But I live in an apartment now, so that’s something I have to do. When asked what I need, last night I literally stood in my kitchen and screamed in terror. (Then I locked myself out of my apartment and the police had to come, but that’s a different thing all together.)


I’ve done this once, and that makes me an expert! Here is how to make a grocery list that will benefit your life productively.


Get the basics.

If you’re gonna eat mac and cheese from a box, get mac and cheese in a box. If you’re gonna eat applesauce, get applesauce. Bread. Peanut butter. Yogurt. Milk. Pasta. Lunchmeat. It’s not enough to sustain you entirely, but it’s a start.


Think about what you’ll actually make.

Sure, you can plan to make big, fancy three-course dinners for your roommates all you want, but when you get home from class, you are EXHAUSTED. So think about what you’ll actually have the energy to cook. I’m not suggesting gross prepackaged/frozen meals (although there are some good ones!), but I’m suggesting dishes with less steps, like salads, busier sandwiches, and crock-pot meals once winter rolls around.


You NEED fruit and vegetables. Otherwise you’ll feel gross.

If you spend, like, a week eating nothing but carbs you will feel like an actual mess. But your family isn’t doing the shopping for you, so you can get stuff you actually like! Try some new fruits you’ve never had before! Keep stuff for salad, but put your own spin on it, with nuts and craisins and stuff! Get little fruit cups in sugary juice and real live fruit you can put in a bowl. Go nuts. Just please eat something that grows.


Never forget about breakfast.

Think about cereal. Oatmeal. Bagels. Coffee and tea. Waffle/pancake mix if you’re a fancy boy! I would advise against things like Pop-Tarts and Toaster Strudel, because they don’t give you the nutrients to get you to lunch. But I’m not your mom. Get what you want.


Don’t go too hard on drinks.

All you ever really need is water, milk, and maybe coffee if you’re a caffeine addict like me. Save soda, juice, or whatever else for special occasions. If you get sick of the taste of water, buy those little flavor packets. Just make sure your staple drink is water- it’s healthier (and cheaper!) that way.


It’s okay to have snacks.

My initial philosophy on snacks was to not buy any so I wouldn’t eat any. But that made me miserable. Sometimes I want microwave popcorn! Or chips and guac! Or Goldfish crackers! Or those little Del Monte sorbets that go in the freezer! Just don’t make meals out of them and you’ll be okay.


There you go! You did it! Now you can perform the basic human function of eating without meeting a Jimmy John’s delivery driver every few days. I’m so proud of you, kid.