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Shopping lists

Our daughter knows how hard I’ve searched for a good checklist for tasks like shopping, etc. Today she sent me this image, found on Twitter:

I decided to explain how I have finally made a shopping list that I find usable.

My primary gripe with checklist programs is that AFAIK the way you use them is to add an item to a list. When you check it off, it simply disappears. As a result, I have to write it again the next time I want the item. I want a permanent list whose items I can check when I need them and then check again when I no longer need them.

Checking an item to show I need it and again to show that I don’t need it is certainly possible but requires more programming than I feel like doing.

So my solution is to think this way, checking items that I don’t need:

need to buy don’t need to buy

I’ve used Obsidian - my new tech obsession - to make a shopping list that works on my phone and computer; they are synced:

The table on the right contains everything that I might want to buy.  Every item that I don’t need is checked (that’s the one unintuitive thing about this system).  If I need, say, Jura Scotch, I uncheck it.  It will then appear in the need-to-buy window on the left.  Note that it appears both in the complete list and in the alcohol list.  If I check Jura Scotch in either list, it disappears from both lists, but of course it is still in the no-need-to-buy list, now checked. You can see how I use tags to classify things, etc. The programming involved is pretty easy.  For example, the alcohol list looks like this under the dashboard:

  not done
  tag include #shopping
  tag include #alcohol
  sort by description


And since Jura Scotch has a #alcohol tag, it is selected by this query when unchecked.

Frozen Food

The Twitter post where our daughter found the metal shopping list identifies is as being from the 1920s. That strikes me as kind of early to list frozen food, something that I associate with the early 1950s and later.

This interesting timeline of frozen food says that

Birdseye introduced the first line of frozen foods at a retail store in Springfield, Mass., on March 6, 1930.

Frozen foods were necessary during WWII because metal cans were scarce.

After the war, the frozen food industry begins to spiral downward as consumers return to purchasing items that are no longer being rationed — frozen foods were merely a temporary, affordable substitute, not a desired purchase. However, the upcoming re-introduction of orange juice concentrate will change the perceptions of consumers.

There is no simple moment when frozen foods suddenly became available and popular, but if you look at the timeline you will see that they really came into their own in the mid to late 1940s. I bet the metal shopping list was made around that time.

What’s missing

My wife pointed out the surprising fact that the list doesn’t contain cigarettes! I guess that ciggies are simply not something smokers are likely to forget, especially since supermarkets conveniently placed them at the checkout counters. For our convenience naturally.

This followup shows how to use the Internet’s resources to dig deeper into the history of this device.


It’s also great how the tweets devolve into jokes once the truth has been unearthed.

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