Ultimate Guide to Building a Grocery List

How do you create a grocery list that will help you manage your grocery budget? The grocery list ensures that you buy only what you need and helps you get in and out of the store quickly. Below is all you need to know about creating the best grocery list.

1. Take Inventory

Before you go to the store, clean out your refrigerator and look in your pantry. Write down all the things you need from the grocery for the week. Your list will help you avoid multiple trips to the store throughout the week.

2. Develop a Master List

Grocery goers frequently say they keep a list, but when it is time to walk in the store, the list is no where to be found. Inevitably it is in the car, the kitchen, or the office.

Develop a master list that stays in the same place at all times so you'll know where to find it when you go to the store. Some people keep their master list on the refrigerator, in a spreadsheet, or in an application on a smart phone. Emailing the list to yourself is another way to ensure your master list is with you when you go to the grocery store.

Make sure your master list includes the items you purchase every week. You can fill out the rest of your list when you are meal planning for the week.

3. Organize List by Department

Organizing your list by department will avoid aimless wandering. In fact, My Recipes reports that studies show that for each additional minute you spend in a grocery store past half an hour, you will likely spend between 50 cents and $1.

Instead of crisscrossing the store trying to find things on your list, streamline your trip by making only one trip down each aisle. Try organizing a list by the following categories:

  • Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Milk, Yogurt and Cheese
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts
  • Fats, Oils and Sweets
  • Staples, Condiments and Miscellaneous Foods (spices, baking powder, etc.)
  • Health and Beauty Products
  • Household Items (laundry soap, light bulbs, etc.)

Does this sound like too much work? Meal Planning by Food.com has developed a free printable grocery list template to get you started.

4. Stick to Your List

If it's not on your list, don't buy it. Include important item details like quantities, brand names, and package sizes so you stick to your list. Filling your cart with items that aren't a part of your weekly meal plan will only add dollars to your grocery bill.