Friday, October 14, 2011

Tips for Making an Effective Grocery List

The Virtuous Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord. 

I love to go grocery shopping but I know that if I don't stay on task that my idol little hands will put things in my shopping cart that I do not need.  The key for me to staying on track is having a well thought out and organized grocery list while on my shop.  It all starts with planning out my weekly meals and snacks along with taking a good inventory of my pantry and daily necessity items.  Now with my plan in hand, I get armed with my weekly grocery ads, coupons, and grocery list and get started.

This is the process I use to make out my weekly grocery list:

1) Go through my meal plan and jot down all the items I will need to purchase to make those meals and snacks I've planned out - I double check my pantry, refrigerator and freeze to make sure I have the right amounts needed

2) Write down on my list any staple items that I have run out of in my pantry or refrigerator - spices, baking goods, condiments, etc.

3) Look through my local grocery stores weekly ad to see what items are on sale - there may be some items available that I don't need this week but would be good to stock up on  - ex. meat sales, in season fruits and vegetables to freeze or can, canned goods, etc.

  • Don't forget to look at the drugstore ads as well - Walgreens, CVS, etc as they often have really amazing deals on food and household items along with health and beauty.

4)  Then I look through the coupons I've been collecting. On my list I will call out those items I have a coupon for by writing a little "C" next to it. (You could mark it however you like but just do something to remind yourself.)

Warning:  After my several failed attempts at "super couponing," I would truly only recommend using coupons on items that are already on sale as they are already loss leaders and getting the double discounts is the best way to really save money.  I would recommend two sites as resources that go through current coupons and items at sale at the major retailers - or  Be prepared for a little extra time involved with this process but it might be worth the extra savings to you.

5)  I also make note of any store deals going on where you need to buy a certain number of items in order to receive an additional discount.  For example, at Kroger they will have a sale that if you by 10 of the designated items, you will receive an additional $0.50 of each item, but the catch is you have to buy them in multiples of ten.  So I mark those items on my list and when I shop I keep them separated from the other items to make sure I have the number I need.

How Effective is Your Current Grocery List?

I used to hand write out my grocery lists which was pretty fast and easy.  I even attempted to organize it out into categories like all my fruit and veggies, meats, dairy, household, etc.  I used the little note pads with a magnet on the back only cost around $1 and they last a long time.  But this method wasn't helping me out very much when I got in the store.  The biggest disadvantages for me is that my hand writing is horrible, my attempts at organization weren't the best because I would jam items in random spots when I ran out of room.

I listened to my virtuous woman advice of using my time wisely and I thought it would be nice to have one of those pre-printed notepads that I could just check off a box and it would already be sorted into categories.  But most preprinted note pads that I found were either too generic or 1/2 of the items on the list weren't what I bought on a regular basis and they weren't in an order that kept me on track in the grocery store.  Plus in wanting to stay a bit more "green" these days wanted to find a way to go with less paper.

So I came up with a solution to make my own reusable and customized grocery check list.  I created a Word Document with a checklist of all the regular grocery items that I buy, put it in a logical order to bring me through my favorite grocery stores aisles, and laminated it with contact paper.  Click here to see how I made my Customized and Reusable Grocery List.

I hang my list just below my meal planning calendar on the fridge.  Next to it I have a one of those magnetic pencil boxes to hold my fine point dry erase markers.  During the week I check off items that I need to restock and before I shop I check off and write down the items I need for my meals.

I tri-fold my list and it fits in my purse great.  Then at the store I take it out, lay it open on my purse and keep it out in the open to see. Now as I go around the store and it's so much easier to read with big clear letters and bright colored check marks.  You so need to make one for yourself!!!!

Honestly though, whether you like to hand write your lists, have a nice template note pad, or a pre-made list from your computer - do what works best for you.  Just get organized before you leave your house to help use your time and your money wisely when grocery shopping.

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