Make a List


There should be a name for that feeling when you get to the supermarket and can’t remember what you’re there to buy. We call it forgetfulness, but this specific feeling is something else. It’s forgetfulness, plus confusion, plus frustration, plus disappointment. Let’s just call it grocery amnesia.

Have you ever tried memorizing your grocery list? It might feel silly to try to memorize your grocery list because when you leave the house you assume you’re going to remember what you need to buy. Yet, grocery amnesia happens to everyone.

Next time you head out to the supermarket, memorize your list before you go. There’s some science that suggests this strategy will not only help you remember your groceries, but boost your brain as well. Remembering word lists and sequences of items is a type of brain training.

Brain training like this boosts your cognitive reserve, or your resilience to behavioral changes caused by the degeneration of neurons linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you make memorizing your grocery list into a habit, you’ll be working out your brain every time you shop. And, as a bonus, you’ll never run out of toilet paper.


  • Ball, K., Berch, D. B., Helmers, K. F., Jobe, J. B., Leveck, M. D., Marsiske, M., Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Study Group. (2002). Effects of cognitive training interventions with older adults: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 288(18), 2271–2281.doi: 10.1001/jama.288.18.2271