How do I make a grocery list? – 5 Steps to save you time and money.

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Do you feel overwhelmed by the whole grocery shopping thing? Maybe you love shopping for clothes and home decor but knowing how to make a grocery list and going to the grocery store just seems more like a chore. If that’s you (it was definitely me when I first got married), then this post for you. You will save time, money, and some brain power that you can use on other things.

One of the most helpful tips I could give you is how to have the right mindset. If you find grocery shopping to be overwhelming, annoying, inconvenient, you fill in the blank, I hope this article will help you find joy in the process. As the caretaker of your home, you have the joyous responsibility of nourishing your loved ones each week.

You hold the power to give them (and you) fuel for the week so that the world can be changed through your family. What you buy and your attitude through the process matter. You hold the power to equip, nourish and love the people most important to you even through grocery shopping.

Step 1: Create a meal plan

In order to make a grocery list that will save you time and money you’ve got to have a plan. Without knowing what you will use the groceries for, you might end up buying a bunch of food you don’t use and it just starts to grow mold in the fridge (speaking from experience here). Creating a meal plan can be really simple. There are a lot of tutorials and methods out there for creating a meal plan but today I will share what has worked for me. Feel free to explore all the options and find a method that fits your lifestyle. Anyway, here is how I create a meal plan each week.

I start with a google doc and I title each page “Meal Plan – Date for the week (May 15-21).” Below the title I add each day of the week like this:

google doc of a weekly meal plan

Now here is where my method differs from others, I only create a meal plan for dinners. I make enough food that we have leftovers for lunch and I just keep breakfast staples in the house such as eggs, bacon, grits, toast, yogurt and granola, etc.

The next step in my meal planning process is to add a dinner below each day of the week like this:

google doc of a completed weekly meal plan

Each new week, you can copy and paste last weeks meal plan, erase all the old meals and type in the new ones. After the meal plan has been completed you have a better idea of what foods should be on your grocery list.

Step 2: Make a “1st draft” grocery list

Here comes the fun part! You are about to start generating grocery list ideas. I use notes on my phone to create a grocery list (you’ll understand why when you get to step 4). Creating a grocery list has so many benefits. I am a true believer in only buying what you need. Here are the 3 steps I follow when making my list.

  1. Make a list of all of the ingredients necessary to make the meals on my meal plan.
  2. Add whatever fruit/snacks we want for the week (in moderation).
  3. Add any breakfast items that need replenishing.

After making a grocery list for a while you will discover some things just stay on the list. I typically have apples, bananas, and eggs on my list every week. Furthermore, you will be able to control what kinds of foods come into your house. If you have a list and you stick to the list, you won’t come home with things you don’t need.

An important part of step 2 is knowing your family. What foods do they like? What foods do they hate? Be sure your grocery list reflects your people. This grocery list is for you, be sure it is what YOU want. Now is not the time to be trendy.

iphone note of a grocery list

Additionally, you can separate your grocery list into categories if that helps your brain. You can separate your lists by:

  • Store
  • Food type
  • Grocery store aisle
  • Location (local farm, farmer’s market, grocery store etc.)

Creating a basic grocery shopping list really is that easy! However, steps 3-5 will help with the saving time and money aspect of the grocery shopping experience. Now, onto finishing that list!

TIP: I buy bulk foods such as grains, beans, herbs, and oils from online bulk food stores. Check out the best places to buy bulk food online by clicking here!

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Step 3: Take inventory of your own kitchen

One of the easiest ways to save money when you make a grocery list is to make sure you do not already have the items on your list in your kitchen. I cannot tell you how many times I bought a bag of potatoes and when I got home to put them away I discovered I already had a bag in the pantry *fail.* We ate a lot of potatoes during those weeks.

After creating a grocery list, go through your kitchen and mark off the items you already have. You might be surprised by how many things you can check off before you even leave your house. Additionally, you might discover a vegetable you forgot about it the fridge that needs to be eaten. If that happens, swap it out with something in your meal plan and cross that veggie off the grocery shopping list.

Once you have shopped your own kitchen, you can confidently know that the stuff on your grocery shopping list is essential and not a duplicate.

note of check off items on a shopping list

Step 4: Share the grocery list with the fam

Now we will look at why making your grocery list in notes on your phone will come it super handy! My family started doing this early on and although it is not a bullet proof method, it has helped tremendously. I am a forgetful woman and I need all the help I can get, ha ha!

Here is exactly how it works: create a sharable note and share it with your family (or just spouse if you’re like me). The purpose of sharing the note is so that when someone uses up the last bit of mustard, they can add it to the list when they throw the bottle in the trash.

Creating a sharable grocery list will help you avoid those moments of going to the fridge only to find out someone used up all the ranch and didn’t tell you. As I mentioned, it is not a fool proof method but it does help prevent those instances from happening as often.

note of check off items on a shopping list

If you prefer a grocery list written on paper, you can still use this trick. Put a notepad with a magnet on the fridge and when someone uses the last of something they can write it on the notepad. You have the freedom to modify any of these steps to fit your lifestyle and family.

Step 5: Check for sales before you shop

Finally, we have come to the last step in the grocery list making process. As I mentioned in step 4, you can make this step your own. If you prefer to flip through a paper copy of your local sales paper, you do you! I have found I am the quickest at scanning sales papers online. Most grocery stores have a website and on the website you can locate a digital copy of the weekly sales paper.

Get out your beautifully made grocery list and search the sales paper for the items on your list. Searching the sales papers will help determine which store to buy your items from for the best price. Whether you do online pick-up orders or you like to walk through the aisles yourself, going through the sales papers will save you money.

Occasionally, you will find a deal on something on your list like a BOGO on frozen veggies. You can stock up on frozen veggies, save money, and not have to buy them again for a while! Win, win my friend.

I hope you found some of these steps helpful if not all of them. I challenge you to try this method for a few weeks, modify it to best fit your family, and become a pro grocery shopper. You will soon find that grocery shopping will become second nature.


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