Making a Smarter Grocery List Can Save You Money

Making a Smarter Grocery List Can Save You Money

Plan your grocery shopping with these seven easy tips and save money every month.

By: Lorraine Allen

When I make a schedule or plan, I feel more productive and less rushed, and therefore calmer and happier all day. And, when I extend planning efforts to my grocery shopping, I can make smarter lists, so I can save more money too! Here are my top seven tips for making smarter grocery lists so you can start saving some money, too!

1. Make a long list, once a month that will include items you can buy in bulk and find coupons for, by planning ahead. Keep this list somewhere you can add to it easily. (I use my cell phone). Items might include toilet paper, flour, dog food, and so on.

2. Make the most of what’s in season. It’s always freshest and cheapest then. Right now, apples, pears, cabbage, and kale are growing here. So I’ll put these on my weekly “buy fresh” list, and use in different ways -- adding sliced fruit to salads, using cabbage as slaws or in soup, and making kale chips as school snacks. I’ll make applesauce or pear tarts or muffins and freeze some for winter and spring. This saves money now AND later.

3. Make lists of recipe ideas using the foods your family likes best, so that when those items are on sale, you can stock up (say, on chicken or pork ribs or scallops). Then you can buy what you need to make several different meals and freeze some for later. I take photos of recipes in cookbooks, so I have them on my phone and can make those dishes for the best price, when the opportunity presents itself.

4. Keep your lists organized and handy. If your phone is not ideal, have a specific notepad you keep with you always. If having lots of notes or a pad of paper is not working for you, make one master list per month, and write things under two or three separate column headers, like “buy bulk” or “farmers market.”

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5. Use different color pens or highlighters. I know that if I forget the toilet paper at the wholesale warehouse, I’m going to pay a lot more money for it at a small grocery store near my home. But a family needs toilet paper … So part of making smarter lists means making SURE you write things clearly and have the list with you, so you don’t forget what to buy when and where.


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6. Consider how you can stretch leftovers. You can make chicken soup, chicken salad sandwiches, or dumplings with leftover chicken and just a few extra ingredients, for instance. So think ahead and include the items on your lists that you’ll need to make those dishes!

7. Make your family’s favorite foods at home. Store-bought bread, pizza, cookies, salad dressing, and soup all add up fast and taste better homemade. These items are so easy to make (find tons of recipes and how-tos online), and you’ll save a lot if you add their basic ingredients to your pantry lists!

Do you have any tips for making smarter grocery lists and saving more money?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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