In most households, the largest expense, outside of a mortgage, is groceries, health/beauty items, and cleaning supplies.
I remember the days of walking the aisles at my local store, randomly putting in my cart whatever looked good, along with purchasing my weekly shopping list. It was not uncommon to drop a $100 on a few bags of groceries, when I only meant to pick up one or two things.
We all want to save money at the grocery store. But we don’t want to spend a ton of time. The key to cutting down your grocery budget is to have a list. But not just any list, a very targeted money saving grocery list. This list will help you become strategic with your “grocery store attack plan” and stop the random “add-ons” that can destroy a hard planned budget.
Here are the steps to organizing and creating a money saving grocery list, instead of a I-have-no-idea-where-my-money-went grocery list.
How To Create A Money Saving Grocery List
I divide my grocery list into three categories.
- Items that are FREE or stock up price.
- Items I need for my menu plan.
- Items I think may be a deal, but I’m not sure and want to check out.
Items that are FREE or stock up price.
Because I keep a price book, I know when an item is at a “buy-it-now” price in the grocery-store sales cycle. So even though I may not need the item right now, I will purchase it and store it for a later date.
For example, during the holidays, flour and sugar are always on sale. So during that time, I will purchase above my normal use and store it for a later date. (You can see an example of this with laundry detergent.) If I’m able to purchase an item for a 75% retail discount, I’ll purchase as many as I can afford. That way I can use the discounted item when I need it, instead of purchasing it at higher sale or retail price.
These are always the first items I put on my shopping list. I want to make sure I have money budgeted for them and I want to make sure I don’t forget them.
Items I need for my menu plan or normal use
Next on the list are all the ingredients I need to finish out my menu plan or items we need. I try my hardest to match the items I need with the items on sale in the grocery circulars, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Regardless if the item is on sale or not, I always look in the Coupon Database for a coupon.
I never overbuy these items. Many times the items are fresh goods, specialty items, or items we have run out of, but I know can be purchased at a lower price.
Items I think may be a deal, but I’m not sure and want to check out.
There are stores that double coupons in my area. If I see a coupon for $.50 off taco seasoning, I will go ahead and clip it because there is a very good chance that taco seasoning will be FREE or nearly free at that store after the doubled coupon. Also, I have another store that puts their meat at 50% off on Thursday mornings. And another that discounts their day-old bakery items.
If I’m going to a store than has any of these special promotions, I will make a note at the bottom of my list. Depending on how my budget is going (or the trip, if I’m taking my kids), I may choose to not even investigate these things. However, if I have a little extra in my budget or a little extra time, I’ll go ahead and take a look. Sometimes the best bargains come out of these scavenger hunts.
What is the key to making a money saving grocery list work? Actually making the list and sticking to it. Honestly, that’s the hardest part. But once you get in the habit of making this list, you’ll enjoy the savings and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
How about you? How do you organize your grocery list?