Everything You Need To Know About A Reverse Shopping List

Whether you love to cook elaborate meals or are a total culinary novice, you've probably made a grocery shopping list at least a few times in your life. After all, unless you're the type to go to the market every single day in order to obtain what you need for a 24 hour period, you're probably buying ingredients for multiple meal preps at once. However, many of us know the familiar feeling of buying a bottle or jar of something, and discovering when you go to put it in your fridge or pantry that you already have that item. That's where a reverse shopping list comes in.

A reverse shopping list is, essentially, a list that shows everything you have in your pantry. You could extend that to other areas where you keep a stock of items, such as your freezer or fridge, but the point is to have a running list of all the ingredients you have on hand. The hardest part is creating that initial list, where you're digging through your pantry, spice cabinet, and whatever else you've decided to take stock of, to determine exactly what you have. You can create the list wherever it makes the most sense — many find that a Notes app of some sort on your phone is the best, as you can easily check it when you're at the store, or make a note while you're whipping up dinner.

How do you use the reverse list?

A reverse grocery list won't straight up replace the grocery list you've been crafting for your weekly meal plan, but it can be a total game changer when it comes to your shopping routine. Simply put, once you have your master list of everything you have on hand at home, you can use that as a resource for making your grocery shopping a whole lot easier. The only thing you need to do beyond your initial list creation is to note on the list whenever you run out of a particular item. Then, the next time you go grocery shopping, you replace that item so it's back in stock.

This system means that when you're at the grocery store, wondering whether you still have that can of chickpeas, all you need to do is consult the list for an easy answer. You also won't find yourself midway through making something, only to discover you're missing one crucial ingredient. Finally, you can also use the reverse grocery list as a way to streamline your meal planning routine — rather than jotting down every little bit of seasoning and sparingly-used ingredients in the dish you're trying to make, you can just purchase the items you know you don't have in stock. As an added bonus, this method of grocery shopping can reduce food waste, as well as potentially cut down on your grocery budget.