A reader (Molly, I think!) asked a while back if I could share how I make my grocery lists, and I am finally getting around to it. Thanks for your patience, Molly. I don’t think my method is very earth-shaking, but here it is.
I make my grocery list in conjunction with my menu planning. I wrote a post before about how I plan my menu, so I won’t bore you with that. And there are more posts about menu planning in the menu planning category.
Since I shop at Aldi and Weis, I take a plain piece of paper (usually the back of some discarded artwork or the back of a junk mail letter, since I do love to re-use paper) and draw a line down the middle. One side of the paper is for a Weis list and one is for Aldi.
When I’m planning my menu, I’ve got my cookbooks and recipe pages out on the table, and I look over the ingredients for each of the meals I’m planning for the next two weeks. When I come across an ingredient I need, I just add it to the list. If I can get it at Aldi, I almost always do…and what I can’t buy at Aldi goes on the Weis side of the shopping list.
I write items on the lists in a way that reflects the way the store is arranged. For instance, the dried fruits and nuts are near the entrance of my Aldi, so I put those things first on the list. And the frozen fruit is almost at the end of the store, so that goes near the end of my list.
I usually look back over the meal plan twice just to make sure I didn’t forget to add anything to the list.
Of course, I also sometimes need to buy items that don’t appear on my menu plan. If I were more organized, I’d keep a running list on the fridge of those things (and sometimes I do, but not very faithfully!). Mostly I keep a running list in my head, but that’s not as reliable as a fridge list. Fortunately, I usually make my list a day before I actually go shopping, and over the course of that day, I tend to remember the things we need.
I don’t do a lot of deal shopping simply because Aldi’s everyday low prices are so good, but I do take a look at the sale flier for Weis, and if I see a good deal on something I don’t really need that week, I sometimes will add it to my list. Buying items when they’re cheap keeps me from having to buy them when they’re not on sale.
And I don’t do a lot of couponing either, but if I see a good sale price on an item like cereal, I usually check coupons.comto see if there’s a printable coupon to use with the sale (I am a coupons.com affiliate, but I signed up because I already use coupons.com more than any other printable coupon site, and so I feel comfortable recommending it).
My lists aren’t very detailed, and if I were sending Mr. FG to the store instead of myself, I’d definitely need to clean up my method a bit. But, I can read my chicken scratch (most of the time. There have been occasions where something on my list has stumped even me!), and my very unofficial looking list works for me.
That was kinda rambly, so here are my basic suggestions in a list form.
1. Plan a menu. Going to the store without a basic idea of what you’re going to be cooking is a recipe for over-spending and over-buying (which often leads to food waste)
2. Keep it simple. A pen and plain piece of paper can work quite well. If you make your system too elaborate, you might not get around to using it.
3. Use your menu plan to help you make a specific list. If you know your list is specific and comprehensive, you won’t be tempted to buy extra stuff “just in case”.
4. Keep a running list of items you need. I haven’t personally managed to apply this one very well, but I do keep trying!
How do you make your shopping list? Any tips to add to mine?
Today’s 365 post: Remember when I didn’t snap the grain grinder lid on tightly?
Joshua’s 365 post: And now, a guest post from Lisey