Do you ever dread going to the grocery store? I know I do. Often grocery shopping feels like just one more annoying chore on the to-do list. I mean, who wants to grocery shop after a busy day at work or in the middle of the weekend when you’d rather be spending time with friends and family? Not to mention the fact that busy moms often need to brave the grocery store with kids in tow. Most of us are just trying to get in and out of that store as quickly and painlessly as possible, right?
So what if I told you there are a few simple tricks to make your shopping experience much easier? Such tricks do indeed exist, and I’m divulging everything you need to know about how to make a better grocery list today.
Make a list
This may seem obvious, but I’m always shocked at how many people tell me they don’t actually make a grocery list before they head to the store.
The bottom line with making a better grocery list is this: You only have so much decision-making energy in a day. Do you want to waste it in the grocery store trying to decide how much cereal you need to buy or which ingredients you need for Thursday night’s chili? Nope, me either.
When you list out everything you need to buy ahead of time, you take all the guess work out of shopping. You don’t have to think. Just walk in with your list, get what you need, and go. This makes your shopping trips less stressful, saves you time in the store, and will also save you money by preventing you from buying things you don’t need.
Organize the list
The method you use to organize your grocery list is totally up to personal preference. You can write it out on a piece of paper, or you can type it up in a notes app on your phone (like Evernote or Any.Do). If you use a recipe organization app like Paprika , you can also make your grocery list right within the app.
List your items in the order you go through the store
This will take you just an extra minute or two to do and will seriously save you so much time in the store. If you list your grocery items in the order you go through the store, you can simply shop your way down the list. No more running back and forth between aisles! Here is the order you’d follow for most stores:
- Pantry items (all of your center store aisles)
- Frozen foods (Always do last regardless of location in the store so that nothing melts!)
Buy only what you need
Make the list based on your meal plan for the week, plus any snacks and pantry staples that need to be re-stocked. This is where your meal schedule is crucial because it allows you to know exactly what you need to buy. You would be shocked at how much money you can save by simply not overbuying ingredients and avoiding impulse buys.
When you make your list, go through each recipe for the week and write down any ingredients you need to purchase. Include specific amounts as applicable (e.g. number of peppers, ounces of meat, etc.) so that you don’t buy too much or too little of what you need.
To make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, run through this list:
- Ingredients for dinner recipes
- Ingredients for lunches
- Breakfast foods
- Pantry staples
- Herbs and spices
- Beverages (coffee, tea, juice, milk, etc.)
- Household goods (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.)
- Any sale items you plan to buy for later
You can still shop the sales
If you like to plan your meals around the week’s sales, look ahead at the sale ads while you make your meal plan, and add the appropriate sale items to your grocery list. For items you can freeze or that are shelf-stable, you can also purchase in bulk when they go on sale.
However, the “buy only what you need” rule still applies. Do not buy something just because it’s on sale! If it’s something your family won’t actually eat or something that is going to spoil before you can use it all, it’s not worth the money no matter how cheap it is.
For most of us, the reality is that if we want to eat then we need to grocery shop. Make your life easier by creating a better grocery list so that you can get in and out of the store faster, with a few extra dollars in your pocket and all of your sanity still in tact.
Check out these other posts from the How to Meal Plan Like a Dietitian series:
- How to Meal Plan Like a Dietitian in 6 Easy Steps
- Expert Advice on How to Find the Best Healthy Recipes
- Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Meal Schedule
- How to Stock Your Pantry Like a Dietitian
- How to Stock Your Freezer Like a Dietitian
- 6 Brilliant Meal Prep Secrets to Save You Time in the Kitchen