How to Grocery Shop Like an ISTJ

When Dan and I met my junior year of university, we immediately decided against falling for each other. I had long ago determined that I could never marry an engineer, so the nerdalicious man leaving my apartment for an all-nighter in the biomechanics lab was automatically out. He had made a similar determination about psychologists, so the stack of behavior theory textbooks on my table did not exactly work in my favor. Did you know that? That I once majored in psychology? Not many people today would guess it, and I can understand why; the subjective science behind analyzing and treating minds suited me about as well as a Pancho Villa mustache (which, to be clear, suits no one). Here’s my motive for studying psychology in my own journal-scribbled words from 2002: “I want to travel the world and pen my thoughts and make as many relationships as this life allows.” And somehow I thought memorizing Jungian archetypes would be the way…? The week before Dan and I admitted we actually did rather like each other, I got my ass into the English program where it belonged.

Some of what I learned in the psychology program stuck with me though, and I remain especially fascinated by personality profiles. My own analytical mind revels in lists and organizational strategies, so cordoning the vast spectrum of humanity into categories helps me take our individual quirks in stride. For example, my Myers-Briggs personality type is ISTJ—introversion (I recharge by withdrawing), sensing (I’m detail-oriented), thinking (I tend to make logical rather than emotional decisions), and judgment (which sounds horrible and arrogant but basically means I just analyze the heck out of everything)—and while I get defensive over a few of its points (judgment!!), it really does explain a lot of how I tick. Even better, it means I’m not alone in the funny little mechanism of my brain… so this is for you other ISTJs out there, or for those with an ISTJ in your lives, or for those who would simply like to walk a mile in our over-thinking but psychologically validated shoes:

How to Grocery Shop Like an ISTJ

Step Pre-1: Plan a time to sit down and work on your grocery list. This shouldn’t be hard; just pick a time when you’ll be at 62-65% mental capacity with few people around and no other pressing responsibilities for the day. You may need to schedule an out-of-town trip to make this possible.

Step 1a: Jot down all the food you currently have in the house. Try to give exact amounts whenever applicable. (Don’t forget spices!)

Step 1b: Thumb through your grocery store’s current offers and write down any sale items that interest you. Calculate price per weight.

Step 1c: Open your budget spreadsheet and determine how much you will be spending on groceries this trip. It may help at this point to write down the names of everyone who will be attending each meal so that you can determine a price per capita.

Step 1d: Figure out your nutritional goals for the upcoming days. Do you need more protein? Has your diet been lacking the full color spectrum? Is it Vegan Week?

Step 2: With your lists, goals, and spreadsheets open in front of you, start researching recipes that make the best use of all the variables. Be prepared for this step to take a while, though it shouldn’t go much over 48 hours (unless, of course, you’re having company).

Step 3: Assign recipes to specific meals on specific days. Take probable expiration dates and refrigerator size into account. It wouldn’t hurt to check the weather report while you’re at it.

Step 4: You’re finally ready to write your grocery list! Don’t forget to note the desired quantity of each item and order the list according to your grocery store’s layout. Really have fun with this part!

Step 5: Schedule your grocery trip. You’ll want to make sure it’s soon after the store has restocked but not when it’s likely to be crowded. (If you’ve been diligently updating your chart of the delivery truck’s route, this will be a breeze.)

Step 6a: Estimate the number of reusable shopping bags to bring. This should only take some medium-level algebra.

Step 6b: Adjust wardrobe according to the climate and terrain of the store. Settle the sunglasses debate before you head out.

Step 6c: Shop! If you’ve done all previous steps correctly, it shouldn’t be too harrowing an experience, though you’ll want to maintain a certain amount of flexibility just in case, say, they’re out of your preferred brand of laxatives.

Step 7: You’ve just successfully bought groceries; give yourself permission to kick back and celebrate! (After putting everything away, obviously. Also allow time for pantry reorganization, power naps, and crossing the trip off of multiple to-do lists.) Just don’t party too long. After all, somebody’s got to start pre-making the dinner.

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  1. Now I am wondering what step (or what letter of step one?) you are on! This cracked me up, because I think you are my husband. So think about what it is like to be married to ME: I go to the grocery store at least three times a week. Usually without a LIST. I KNOW. When I do have a list, I almost always forget something that is actually on the list, or that I forgot to add to the list at the last minute. I also don’t know how much money is in my checking account on any given day. Did I mention my husband is a banker? It is amazing we are not divorced, really.

  2. hahaa! I just go to the damn store EVERY FRICKIN DAY. We’re always out of SOMETHING, it seems. Usually milk. I don’t know about you, but my family goes through milk like nobody’s business.

  3. hahahahah…i love this.
    i’m an INFJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. [yeah. judging. really. lol. love how that looks! :P]

    i’ll have to write a post on how i do groceries someday.
    when i do groceries.
    at my own house.
    you know.

  4. You are hilarious! And I love every bit of you.


  5. I’m also an ISTJ and am glad I’m not the only one who makes decisions tougher than they need to be!

  6. Wow. I just go down EVERY AISLE (b/c i don’t make lists & I will forget something otherwise), buy whatever is ON SALE, and then go home & make a menu plan. Or not.

  7. OMG, that’s exactly how I make my grocery list each week! I didn’t know it was my personality type. Oh, dear, maybe I need to correctly identify which personality I am so I can learn how to cope with grocery lists *and* the overthinking I do in everyday life. ::hugs::

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