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How to Shop with a List – the Right Way!

Do you shop with a grocery list? Are you doing it the right way? Are you looking for a grocery list template that will help you save time in the grocery store and save money on your budget?

I know you’ve heard it before. However, it bears repeating! Shopping with a grocery list is one of the best ways to save money (and time)!


Why it’s Important

There are a million reasons why shopping with a list is important. Here are the reasons that top my list!


You’ll only buy what you need.

When you shop with a list, you’ll only buy the things you need for meals this pay cycle. You’re not going to end up paying for random items that you have no plan for. In other words, everything in your cart will translate into a meal. And that means you save money and time!


You won’t buy things you don’t need.

If you have a list, you will buy the things that are on it, and you’ll know that you truly need those things. You won’t buy things you don’t need, including duplicates of things you already have in your pantry. Can’t remember if you already have tomato sauce? It’s no problem if you’ve made a list before you left home (and checked the pantry, which revealed that you already had plenty of tomato sauce).


You’ll save tons of money.

If you only buy things you need, and nothing you don’t, then you won’t be spending money on extra food. Without a list, you’ll waste money in one of the following two scenarios:

–> Food will go to waste. You’ll end up throwing random things in your cart like a bagged salad mix and a loaf of sandwich bread without a plan for them. Fast-forward two weeks: you never used the salad, and only half of the loaf of bread, so they get thrown in the trash. (In case you’re unclear, food that ends up in the trash can is not a good use of your money.)

–> Abundance of convenience foods. You’ll end up making lots of impulse purchases because you can’t think straight once you’re surrounded by all of those convenience meals. You will take home lots of overprices snacky foods, desserts, appetizers, and hardly anything that counts as a healthy, well-rounded meal. Yes, this food will get eaten, but none of it really counts as money well-spent.


You can shop the sales and stockpile.

You can either make your menu plan and grocery list according to what is on sale (the best money-savings) or you can make your menu plan and grocery list, and then consult the sale papers (not as much savings, but still a good idea). If you see that chicken breast is on sale, you can plan to make 2 or 3 meals that use chicken this pay cycle. You can buy only produce that is on sale for your sides. Or you can plan to make chili this week because canned beans are on sale.

If you leave enough money in your budget, you can plan to stock up on items that are on sale. That helps your future budget. For example, four weeks from now, you may still have shredded cheese in the freezer from the last sale, and not have to use your budget to buy more (until it goes on sale again).


You won’t forget anything.

A list template will remind you of the items you typically keep on-hand (like flour, minced garlic, and oil) so that you can remember to check your stock before you go shopping. This will keep you from buying things you really don’t need. But it will also save you from having to go back to the store three days later for an important item you’re out of (which saves you time again)!


You won’t waste time.

Without a list (or with a disorganized list), you may roam through the store aimlessly, slowly making your way down each aisle and hoping that the items you need will just throw themselves in the cart! You may also end up back-tracking two or three times to get items you missed the first time through.

No way! Don’t do it!


My Grocery List Freebie

If you want to be super-efficient with your time and money, not only will you shop with a list, but that list will be organized into aisles in the order in which you actually shop!

So first, get my FREE Grocery List template HERE. (Link will open in a new tab.)

Let me explain: This list works for me – it has the appropriate aisles in the order that they appear in my store with the path I usually take. However, once you make this template your own, you will be able to rename the aisles, add more, and rearrange them to make it work for you.

You can remove my staple items and add the items you typically keep on hand. When you’re heading to the store, just skim over these items and check your stock before you leave your kitchen! (You usually have butter on hand, but if you have three recipes that call for butter this week, it’s possible you’ll run out.)

After you open the Grocery List template, click on ‘File’ then ‘Make a copy’ to own this template so you can make changes for yourself.

See below for instructions on how to use this grocery list to shop the right way!

How to Shop with a List – the Right Way!

So how do you shop with a list the right way? Just follow these simple steps, and you’re on your way to a money-saving, time-efficient way to buy groceries!

Step 1: Create your menu plan. Write down all the groceries you’ll need for those meals, including side dishes. Add lunches, breakfasts, and snacks.

Step 2: Check your cabinets to see if there are any other basics you’re out of, like butter, milk, eggs, flour, oil, and other items you would normally count on having in your cabinet already. (I also suggest having a paper on your fridge to jot down groceries to buy as you run low on them.)

Step 3: Organize your grocery list. Either print out this list and fill it out as you go or fill it out on the computer and then print it.


Step 4: Grab a calculator and go to the store! As you put things in your cart, keep a running total on your calculator. As you approach your budget, you will know to slow down. (You may even have to put things back on the shelf at first. It’s okay – you’ll get the hang of your budget within a few trips to the store.)

It’s an even better plan to prioritize what you put in your cart in the first place! Within a few shopping trips, you’ll figure out what you typically have the money for and what you don’t. You won’t even look at that $4 package of cookies!


Related: How to Keep a Budget (using Google Sheets)


Enjoy Your More Efficient Life!

Now that you have a plan, go ahead and try it out! Your menu plan doesn’t have to be complicated – even if it involves frozen pizza and TV dinners, you’ll still save money by being prepared and using my Grocery List template as instructed.

My favorite part of using this grocery list is the time savings within the store. I hate back-tracking! This template ensures that I will only have to make one trek around the store. And once you shop like this a few times, you will know exactly what you need in each aisle and which brand/variety, which will save you even more time! No price-shopping or hunting for just the right item.

Next, you can start to work on making your menu plan more efficient!


How would you combine this shopping method with what you currently do? Do you have any other tips for time savings within the store? Leave a comment below!


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