In this post, let’s discuss the actual steps you need to go through each week to create a shopping list that comes in on budget.
It may seem a little time consuming at first, but don’t let it scare you.
If you want to save money on groceries, you must put in the time and effort to carefully plan each shopping trip.
The more planning you do, the more money you’ll save.
The more money you save, the closer you are to having a cost-effective kitchen.
The more cost-effective your kitchen, the better your family’s finances become.
Let’s get started creating that grocery list!
DO THESE THINGS EACH WEEK BEFORE YOU GO GROCERY SHOPPING
TAKE INVENTORY AT HOME
Each week, before doing grocery planning, you should take inventory.
Start by looking through your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.
Take note of any staples you are getting low on and those items needing to be used in the coming week.
If your pantry is a disaster area, read How To Organize Your Food Pantry in 7 Easy Steps.
Once organized, taking a weekly inventory will take you minutes at best.
You also want to check your storage area for toiletries, laundry, cleaning, and pet supplies.
Make a list of items that need replenishing.
CHECK OUT WEEKLY SALES FLIERS
You must carefully review weekly sales fliers for each of the stores you shop in.
If you don’t have the circulars, go to the store’s website.
Write down each item you plan on purchasing.
Also, write down the item and sales price.
Everyone needs an emergency food stockpile.
If you don’t have one already, this is the time to start.
Make room in the budget each week to begin stocking up on shelf-stable items your family uses often.
Now, back to your shopping list.
Start with the BOGO (buy one, get one free) sales.
If an item is on sale for BOGO, write it down on your list like this: Hunt’s Tomatoes 28 oz 2/2.29.
This tells you that 2 of these items are 2.29.
If your budget allows, you always want to buy at least two of the BOGO items you use often.
Sometimes, you will be required to by two items, other times you can buy one and it will ring up.
Be sure to read the fine print on the sales flier and know your store’s policies.
MAKE A MEAL PLAN
Once you’ve taken inventory of what you have on hand and know what is on sale for the current week, you can make your meal plan.
Start with the items from home that need to be used the coming week then combine with items in your pantry or on sale at the store.
Your goal should be to buy items only when they are on sale.
Can this be done? Absolutely.
Is it done every week? No.
There will always be something you need that isn’t on sale.
But, more well-stocked your pantry is and the bigger your emergency stockpile, the better chance you can avoid paying full price for things.
MATCH COUPONS TO SALE ITEMS ON YOUR LIST
Once you’ve taken inventory, gone through the sales fliers, and made your meal plan, it’s time to match coupons to the items on your list. Once you’ve cut out or printed off coupons you’ll be using, paperclip them together by store. And then clip all the coupons to your list. Here’s a tip: If you have a .75/1 Coupon for chips, write “.75/1Q” next to the price of the item on your list.
FINALIZE YOUR SHOPPING LIST ACCORDING TO YOUR BUDGET
Now it’s time to finalize your list based on your weekly grocery budget.
You should already have the prices written down for the items on sale and have your coupons gathered.
You should add up the total value of your coupons.
Don’t forget to include additional amounts for any coupons that are doubled.
For the nonsale items, check your price book or give it your best estimate as to their cost.
Revise the quantities on your list until your dollar estimate it is within budget.
Don’t forget to estimate sales taxes if applicable.
Revising your list takes practice.
The primary goal here is to have your estimated total less than your grocery budget, so you have a little leeway in case there have been price fluctuations.
GRAB A SNACK
You never want to shop hungry so grab a quick snack before heading out.
Read more about why you should never grocery shop when you are hungry.
GRAB THESE THINGS AS YOU’RE WALKING OUT THE DOOR
- Shopping List
- Price Book
- Sales Fliers (for price matching)
Designate a special bag or tote to keep all your shopping supplies.
I have a small tote and each week after I’ve finalized my list, I make sure everything is organized and in that tote.
Please make sure you have everything with you as you head out the door to shop.
There’s nothing worse when you’re trying to get a handle on your grocery budget than to shop without a list or your coupons.
Remember, getting a handle on your grocery budget takes time and patience. Practice progress, not perfection.