How To Create a Grocery List

Last week we discussed making a monthly menu. Today I”d like to share few ideas for using that menu to put together a grocery list. When shopping it’s my objective to get what I need, no more and no less.  I also like to save money while doing it.

Personally, I prefer to shopping at different food stores. Doing this allows me to find fresh produce, bulk bins, specialty products, and lower prices. Maybe I’m a little strange, but I enjoy walking through the aisles at the grocery store looking at the different foods and getting inspiration for future recipes. 🙂 I know some of you have busy schedules so if you’re a one stop shopper be sure to pick a store that has a wide variety and lower prices.

This is my approach to putting together a grocery list:

  1. Take stock of what you have. Do you already have brown rice? Spaghetti? Flour or eggs?  A quick look and a mental note of what you have in the fridge and pantry will prevent duplicate purchases and wasted food and money.
  2. Look at the menu. Now’s the time to see what you’re going to need each day. Mentally run through the recipes and take note of what you will need.
  3. Write down what you need. After looking in your cabinets and fridge and making an idea of the ingredients you need, its time to put together the list. Write down everything you need and try to group like items together – like produce, canned goods, ethnic foods.
  4. Decide on a Store. I shop at Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Shoprite and my local Farmer’s Market, but not every week. If you choose to shop around this is how I organize my list. It’s quite simple really. I put an initial or code next to each item on the list. For example; I prefer Trader Joe’s coffee and on my list next to that item I write “TJ” to know where I want to get it. Wegmans is where I usually buy the produce I can’t find at the farmer’s market so I write “W” next to those items. To go one step further, take a look at the weekly fliers to see what is on sale and make your store decisions from that information.
  5. Go shopping! Now you have your list! It shows what you need and where you’re getting it. Remember to be flexible and keep an eye open for sales, you will learn which store has lower prices for each item.

Here’s another quick tip, while you’re out shopping or after you get home, jot down the prices of the items on your list. Menus tend to duplicate ingredients, keeping a detailed record of costs can help you estimate your budget and know when someone is overcharging. When you’re shopping also keep in mind the price per pound, sometimes stores can be tricky.

Do you make a grocery list? Do you shop at one store or many different stores like I do? Do you have favorites? And what are your tips for putting together a grocery list?

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