Every time I look over the family budget, our grocery bill is the easily the largest expense after our mortgage. I try to meal plan, which helps, and I compare prices when deciding what to buy. I do NOT have time for coupons or shopping at several stores each week, and I want to provide my family with lots of fresh and healthy foods that aren’t necessarily inexpensive. Yet, I knew we could whittle our bill down at least slightly. Months ago, Megan from Twin Talk shared her grocery list tip and I immediately put it to work. I created a spreadsheet in Excel with an inventory of our pantry, freezer, refrigerator, and basic household items sorted by location in the store. It only took about 15 minutes for me to put this list together, and it’s on the computer so I edit it whenever necessary. It’s so simple.
A copy of the list always hangs on the side of our refrigerator. When we run out of an item, I highlight it on the list. Then, before we head out to grocery shop, I scan our pantry, freezer, and fridge to make sure nothing is missing (this is often a good time to do a quick fridge/ pantry clean out). After making a weekly meal plan, I scribble any extra ingredients on the list that aren’t part of our regular inventory. Even when we are planning to make multiple stops, I use the single highlighted list for every store we visit. It keeps things simple for me.
While shopping, we stick to the list and only allow 1-2 discretionary items. Prior to this list we often added many items off list because we didn’t take good stock of our pantry. This is where we wasted money. Many times we bought things we didn’t need, and worse, more of what we already had. For instance, after one trip, we discovered THREE boxes of Cheerios and we bought another two pack at Costco. That was WAY too many Cheerios, even for us. On the flip side, sometimes I’d begin cooking and would realize we were missing a critical ingredient AFTER I started cooking. Not good.
Since beginning our inventory grocery list, I’ve seen the following results:
- Grocery trips (even by myself WITH kids) take less time because my list is extremely organized and I don’t waste time wandering around the store searching for items.
- We spend less money, especially at Costco because we stick to the list. Granted groceries will probably always be one of our highest expenses with a family of six, we are saving at least $100 per month.
- Even if I don’t have a meal plan, I can whip up meals during the week without making special trips to the store because we have a well stocked pantry.
- We don’t waste food because we don’t buy duplicates of things. Duplicates result in everyone becoming bored of an item and also things go stale when there is excess.
If you’d like to try this money saving tip, you may want to check out our list- Grocery List (Excel spreadsheet)to get started. However, it’ll work best if you personalize it to your own inventory and preferred stores.