This is a series of posts about my personal least favorite household chore- grocery shopping and particularly, the grocery budget. I love to cook and bake and I love to plan new recipes. I mean, who doesn't have a pinterest board chock full of recipes they've never tried?! Anyway, this is post number two in the series. If you missed post number one, it was on meal planning. You can read it here.
This post is about making a list and STICKING to it. The most obvious reason to make a grocery list is to keep you from making impulse buys and buying ingredients or products that are not on your list. I have a problem with this. Food is yummy, and if something looks good, it is almost always going in my shopping cart. This is even more of a problem if you shop with kiddos in tow or even your husband or significant other. I can never make it out of the grocery store without spending at least a few extra dollars on "extras" that we had to have. And, let's face it, most of the time, those extras are not healthy choices. :(
In my first post, I talked about an amazing meal planning site that allows you to save recipes, create a meal planning calendar by dragging and dropping recipes into it, and automatically creating a grocery list. There are a few flaws with the system. For example, if a recipe says "salt and pepper" and another recipes says "1/2 tsp of salt", it will not combine these together. Which, kinda makes sense because you have no idea what amount the one needs. So, for me, this is the most tedious part of getting my list ready, and in reality, this only takes about 5-10 minutes of my time. After creating the grocery list, I simply go through and combine ingredients or remove ingredients that I don't need to buy. Then, I hit print, and I'm ready to go! They now also have an app that allows you to use your phone as your list, instead of printing it. It is a great tool, but I'm a little old-fashioned and really like paper in hand with a pen to cross of items. I suppose one day I'll get there because I do love tech, but there is just something about a pen and paper for me. (Have you seen my bullet journal?)
But, what if you don't use a nifty online meal planning tool? The first tip I can give you is to organize your list by type of ingredient or by area of the store. Before I started using Plan to Eat, I would hand write my grocery list. I would start with a plain white sheet of paper, and fold it in half like a book. On one side, I would write out the meals for the week. On the other side, I would create my list, organized by area of the store. This kept me from forgetting items and wandering around the store like a mad woman. The key to grocery list making is to simply find a system that works for you and keeps you on track and not wandering around the store. The more organized you are when you get there, the more likely you are to avoid making impulse purchases. Focus on the list.
And lastly, I can offer one more key piece of advice when it comes to using a list and doing your shopping. GROCERY PICKUP. I know for a lot of people, there are few options available for ordering online and actually picking up your groceries, but it can be a huge time saver and it keeps you from making impulse buys. For me, I do a majority of my shopping at Aldi and I stick to the list. Since the store is so much smaller, I don't find myself wandering or looking for ingredients because I generally know what the store carries and where it will be located. Then, for whatever ingredients I am unable to purchase at Aldi, I order through Walmart's Grocery Pickup. Sometimes I use my phone or iPad to do this while laying in the bed, but other times I sit down at my computer. It just depends on how I'm feeling. But, the best part is, when it is time to pick them up, I simply drive to the store, go to the pick up area, and within minutes my entire grocery order is loaded into my car and I'm on my way home.