*sings* She’s making her list… She’s checking it twice… Gonna find who’s got the lowest price…

Yes, I do tend to entertain myself with a song for most things–a life without music isn’t one worth living! Ok, that was dramatic but when you think about most of the tasks of adulthood it’s not like they’re all fun and excitement. One of those tasks is grocery shopping. Don’t get me wrong, as a foodie I absolutely LOVE being surrounded by all these lovely ingredients that I can make a 25-course meal with (ha) but as a (for now) single income family, our bank account doesn’t agree with a $250 grocery trip every week.

I normally do our grocery shopping on Sunday’s or Monday’s depending on how the day goes, but last week as I was whipping out my grocery list, I was stopped by an older lady who was really excited about my list. Since I looked approachable (I shop with abc… Her little face gets everyone), she accosted me with questions about how I come up with my lists, why I do, how I end up in TJ’s, etc. But it’s not just her who’s asked–a lot of the mommy groups I’m apart of have brought up this question as well. I’ve shared some tips in passing but here’s more detail behind the how’s and why’s of my grocery lists:

the power of the grocery list


Why I Don’t Shop Without A List

I didn’t always go grocery shopping with a list. In fact, I used to be the one that was making fun of people with lists in the store. But then I became a single mother and had to figure out how to feed myself and growing daughter on a single salary and wouldn’t be able to do so blowing $200 on food every 2 weeks. When it was just mini and I, I would spend $60 on our groceries every 2 weeks. During this time, I would just keep staples in the house of certain things I knew I’d be able to make food with. Now, cooking for 4, I spend about $100 on our groceries every 2 weeks. We’re living on my husbands salary so in order to make sure that I stretch our dollar as far as I can, a grocery list is necessary for me to stay focused in the stores, find the best deals, and only buy what we need. Without the list, I come home with things like banana peppers (which have been in the pantry for about 10 months).

How I Come Up with My Grocery Lists

The first thing I do is meal plan. I normally will do 2 weeks at a time. One of the things that was hard for me since leaving corporate is including breakfast and lunches for abc and I at home. And now with mini in school, I have to include her snacks and such. In order to plan this out, I use a printable. Fab n Free is my favorite site for all these awesome printables to organize my life. I print out the the meal planning one and fill in the blanks. Before I make my grocery list, I check for the ingredients that I already have and will try to incorporate those things into my meals. After that, I make my grocery list.

Where To Shop

I’m a person who does things out of convenience. Some people will check the circular’s and base their shopping trips on that but I just can’t do all that. I will shop at Trader Joe’s for things like produce and meat because the meat doesn’t have hormones and stuff and the produce is normally locally grown. Their prices are rather competitive as well. After I leave TJ’s I’ll go to either Target or Kroger (depending on how much I feel like driving) to fill in the blanks. I have the Target debit card so I save the 5% and then I live by the Cartwheel app with will offer about the same discount as any coupon. I will normally separate my shopping list by store to make things more efficient when I’m in each store.

Grocery lists have definitely impacted my finances for the positive–planning in general has. If you’re interested in my weekly planning ritual, check out my Periscope I did on how I plan my weeks.

Do you use a list when you grocery shop? What tips do you have?