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Save Money on Your Grocery Bill - Step 2- the Shopping List

Updated on November 25, 2017

This may sound demanding, but...

DO NOT WALK INTO THE GROCERY STORE WITHOUT A LIST! It's for your own good, really! When there is no list, you get things that you don't need. A list serves so many purposes. First, it is your map of the store. Your list will save you so much time, because you know what you need and where to get it. Second, your list saves your waistline. You are much more likely to pick up those M&M's that are on sale if you don't have a list. My rule is - if it's not on the list, it's not in my cart (clearance items are an exception!). Your list saves MONEY. When you are carrying your list around, you can put tick marks to estimate how much you are spending. This small little action can save TONS of CASH. And finally, it is your reminder. A star by the item means you have a coupon. A question mark by the item means you have a price match, and then the actual price match information can be right there on your list, too (once again, saving you time).

It's plain and simple. The less time you spend in the grocery store, the less money you're going to spend. That's why we list.

How to make the list

To make your master shopping list, think about the layout of your store and the path that you take through the store.  I like to shop at a mass-merchandiser (Wally World) so it is important that I bypass all of the non-essential stuff so that I'm not tempted.  

Type, or write out, the items that you buy on a weekly basis.  It's important to have things like milk and eggs on the list, because once you have this system automated, those are the things that get left out.  It is smart, also, to leave a few blanks in each area, such as produce, canned foods, baking goods, etc.  That way, if you need something that you don't buy each week, you have a nice little spot to write it in.  

Our store just did a complete makeover, so it was time to makeover my shopping list.  I simply walked through the store with my camera and videoed where everything is.  I'm sure I looked really intelligent walking by each aisle with the camera, then speaking into the camera, "pasta, rice, sauce, beans."  But hey, it saves me so much time, I didn't mind looking like a dingbat too much.

This list should be saved and copied for each week.  I would not make a massive amount of copies until you have the list just the way you like it.  You may realize after three weeks that you write "macaroni" on it each week.  Just go back in and add it.

Use your menu!

Here's where your menu from Step 1 comes in! Go day-by-day through your menu and check off the items you need (or write in the items that aren't already on your master list). If you are trying out recipes, just reference the recipe to check off the ingredients you need.

Now, go back over your master list and check off the things you need that weren't specified on any given day, like milk, eggs, bread, fruit, crackers, etc.

Shop at home first!

This is a great time to check in your pantry, freezer, or food storage to see if you have any of the items on your list.  There may be a possibility that the last time you had meatballs, you had half a bag left over.  

This is also a great time to find out if substitutions can be made.  Maybe on your menu you had planned on having chicken cordon bleu.  You're shopping at home, and you find a bag of chicken already cut up into little chunks.  Great!  You can use the same ingredients to make a "shortcut" chicken cordon bleu.  Be creative, especially when it comes to using up stuff that's already in your home.

Sales Ads & Coupons

You used the sales ads to help plan your menu - now grab those sales ads and make sure you're getting the best prices.  If you shop somewhere that honors competitor's prices, make sure you write down on your list who has the best price, and what that price is.   You will need to carry your ads with you, so don't cut them up or throw them out.  The cashier will need to see the ad, including the dates on the top or bottom of the front page.

Speaking of front page - the front and back pages of the ads usually have all the best buys!

Next, take your list and go through your coupons.  Pull out any coupons you are going to use, and keep them with the list.  Take a pen with you to the store, too.  It's so easy to mark out what you've already put into the cart and just grab the rest of the things that are checked off as you go!

My shopping list

Here are the items on my shopping list.  When I need it, I put a √ by it.  When I have a coupon for it, I put a * by it.  When I have a price match, I write the price match information by it.













Frozen Fruit


Kid Dinners









Green beans





Mac & cheese

Angel hair












Paper plates












Yogurt milk

Sour cream




lunch meat

cheese slices

cheese sticks

cheese shreds




ground beef


Now try your hand at


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    • rorymullen profile image

      rorymullen 7 years ago from Maine

      Good idea and alot of stuff is what I am doing now.

    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 7 years ago

      I agree! I love making lists, and it is so refreshing to see a list that has been completed!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for the Hub! I love making shopping lists- they're good for keeping within one's budget, plus they're also fun to make!