When I head to the store armed with a grocery list I tend to buy less junk and end up with things that can turn into actual healthy meals for my family. This means there are fewer quick trips to the store for “just a few things for dinner” and I find a spend less overall. A final bonus, if I have a plan for dinner and everything I need to make it at home I am much less likely to grab takeout.
So – how to tackle making the grocery list? Here are a few methods ranging – whether you prefer super simple or a little more high tech hopefully one of these will work for you.
Keep a running list in the kitchen.
About as simple as it gets – whenever you use the last of something (or next to the last) add it to the list. This works well if you tend to use the same ingredients consistently. Grab the list once a week (or however you go shopping) and you’ll know just what to stock up on.
Make a meal plan.
Once a week sit down and come up with a plan for meals for the week. Make use of frozen and canned items such as meat, seafood, fruits, veggies, and breads and you could even plan just once a month. (Or do a combination – go on a big grocery shopping trip once a month for non-perishable items and then make a smaller run for produce, bread, and other fresh items once a week.) Browse through new recipes with a stack of cookbooks, the latest cooking magazines, or online, or stick with your old favorites and decide on what to make each night of the week. Factor in a night or two for leftovers if you think you’ll have them, then make a list of the ingredients you’ll need for each recipe. Check the fridge, freezer, and pantry for items you already have. Try to plan your meals to make good use of the foods you’ll be buying. If one recipe calls for 1/2 a can of tomatoes try to find another that will use the rest. Check out this post for ideas.
Track the list on your smartphone.
Add items from anywhere – in the kitchen when you realize you’re out of flour, at work when a collegue recommends a great new product, or in the waiting room at the dentist when you come across a yummy looking recipe in a magazine (include the source so you can look it up later.) Take it a step further by using one of the Grocery List Apps such as Out of Milk or Our Groceries. Each is a little different from the others (and there are countless additional choices out there) but the idea is that you can share and sync the list between multiple family members so whoever makes the grocery run knows exactly what everyone needs.
Have any other grocery list tips? Please share them in the comments!