Ever find yourself aimlessly wandering the grocery store aisles, throwing items into your cart without a plan or purpose? It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and overspend on groceries you don’t really need. Or have you ever gone shopping, only to come home and find you already have what you just bought? Or that you really need something – after you get home from the store. And then have to run out again?
Let’s not do any of that anymore, okay? We’re going to plan ahead with a shopping list, because having a list is the key to save money and time! In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of using a shopping list and I will provide you with a free template to get started.
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As a first step, work on figuring out what you need. Below is a link for a 3-page checklist that I created for you to print out. Most categories have a few suggested items to give you some ideas of what you may need. The easiest way to do this is to print out the checklists, grab a clipboard, and go category by category.
Don’t go out and get everything now!
This is what you will use to get a handle on what you will need to buy eventually.
Organizing your shopping lists
Now that you have an idea of what you need, the next step is to organize your lists. The method I recommend is to create shopping lists by store. I bet you have certain places that you shop, and after you go to a store a few times, you will have an idea of the kinds of things they sell, and most important, their prices.
If you have a smart phone it’s the perfect place for keeping your lists handy. If not, paper and pen is perfect too! For your phone, you will need an app where you can make notes – preferably on separate pages – one page for each store. Google “shopping list apps”, and find dozens to choose from. Find one or two that work for you.
Phone app for making shopping lists
I used to have several different apps that I liked for creating my shopping lists, but after a while, they were each discontinued. Now I use a very simple and free app called To-Do.
For each store that I go to, I create a List, and within each one is a shopping list. Sometimes I add the same item to more than one list, because I don’t always go to all the stores in one shopping trip.
For example, if I need 1/4″ elastic for a sewing project, I put it on the Joann Fabrics list and the WalMart list, since the item is sold at both places. Here in town, both stores are right next to each other, but I go to WalMart first because the prices are better and I can get most of what I need there. So when I shop at WalMart, I check my other lists to see if I can get all those items too.
For my grocery list, I enter items as soon as I use up something or take an item from the pantry. As I go through the grocery store and find what I need, I just swipe the item on the list to delete it.
A Price Book can save money too
Make a price book to refer to until you get used to shopping for the right price. All you need is a notebook to write down items, prices and stores. Or you can create a spreadsheet like I did. Use Excel or Google sheets.
Use your last receipt from the store to start your price book. Also, add what you paid for each item – that way, you will know if you can get a better price if you are shopping in a different store, or if your main store lowers the price you normally pay.
Put items on your lists, but don’t get them until you find them at a good price.
Before I head out to the store, I check all my lists. Then I check the flyers and coupons that come in the mail/email. The items that are on the lists and store prices determine which store(s) I will be going to.
I go into this a lot more here, when I discuss buying groceries. So for now, print out your checklists, take inventory of what you need, and get ready to save money!
Creating a shopping list is a smart and practical way to save money on your grocery bills. By taking the time to plan out your meals and purchases in advance, you’ll be less likely to make impulsive or unnecessary purchases. Plus, with the help of my free shopping list template, the process of creating a list is easier than ever. Give it a try and see how much you can save!